END OF THE ROAD
Eagles can’t hold early lead, fall to Saints
Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Nick Foles (9) works in the first half of Sunday’s NFL divisional playoff football game against the New Orleans Saints, in New Orleans. The Saints topped the Eagles, 20-14, to end Philadelphia’s bid for a championship repeat.
The Eagles put on a show, which is tough for a visitor to do in this town.
But the Eagles faded after methodically scoring two touchdowns in the first quarter, and their season ended slowly and painfully in a 20-14 loss to the Saints in front of a crowd of 73,027.
The Eagles fought to their last breath. When Wil Lutz missed a 52-yard field goal attempt with 2:58 left, the Eagles had pretty good field position at their own 42-yard line.
Nick Foles threw a 16-yard pass to Zach Ertz, then drew a roughing the passer penalty on Marcus Davenport.
But on second-and-10 at the 27 of New Orleans, Foles’ pass skidded through the hands of the normally sure-handed Alshon Jeffery to Marshon Lattimore, who had another interception.
Seconds later the Saints’ defense was posing in the Philly end zone.
It looked like the Eagles might get one more possession with about a minute left but Alvin Kamara rushed for 12 yards on thirdand-10.
The top-seeded Saints entertain the second-seeded Los Ange-
les Rams next Sunday for the NFC championship.
The Kansas City Chiefs host the New England Patriots in the nightcap.
The Eagles took a 14-10 lead into the intermission. It was a tale of two quarters, a dominant first and an injury-riddled second.
The Saints got their first lead with 1:40 left in the third quarter. And the Eagles made them work for it.
Thomas caught a two-yard pass from Brees to cap an 18-play, 92-yard touchdown march that officially consumed 11-minutes, 29-seconds but seemed like a lifetime to the Eagles.
It gave the Saints a 17-14 advantage.
Brees converted tough third down after tough third down due to 25 yards worth of penalties – one of which wiped out an apparent TD - as Carl Cheffers and his crew staked out their territory.
The biggest play was when Brees stepped up in the pocket and zipped a 20-yard strike to Thomas on third-and-16 from the 32-yard line of the Eagles to set up the go-ahead tally.
Thomas beat Cre’Von LeBlanc on the throw, just not by much. LeBlanc flipped him on his spine just to see if he’d hold on.
LeBlanc intercepted Brees’ first pass of the game, a deep ball intended for Ted Ginn to give the Eagles a spark.
Foles guided the Eagles on a 76-yard scoring march, completing all six of his passes, including a 37-yarder to Jordan Matthews for a 7-0 lead.
Foles completed his first seven attempts for 83 yards, one TD and a 155.7 rating, and he reached the ball over the pile to get the Eagles their second TD and a 14-0 lead with 4:37 left in the first quarter.
Brees started 0-for-3 with the pick.
Eagles lead 7-0 7:04 left in first quarter.
OG Brandon Brooks being carted off now. A big loss for offensive line. Stefen Wisniewski replaces Brooks on right side.
Rasul Douglas, the cornerback, also was carted off yet returned. It was that kind of day.
With 10:28, the Eagles weren’t done. They held the Saints to a Wil Lutz 39-yard field goal hiking the deficit to 20-14.
At that point the Eagles were short of healthy bodies, just as in their earlier loss to the Saints this season.
With half the Philly defense injured, Brees hit Thomas for 40 yards to the 24-yard line of the Eagles. On fourth-and-goal at the 2, Brees lobbed a scoring pass to Keith Kirkwood for the Saints’ first points.
The biggest play on the 79yard drive was a fake punt on fourth-and-one at the Saint’s 30. Taysom Hill, the protector, took the snap and picked up four yards.
The Superdome crowd, true to its reputation, brought it. The Eagles’ offensive timing was off so drastically in the fourth quarter, it looked like Foles was playing in slow motion.
Philadelphia Eagles tight end Zach Ertz (86) sits on the turf after the New Orleans Saints intercepted a pass in the second half of an NFL divisional playoff football game in New Orleans, Sunday.
New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) speaks with Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Nick Foles after Sunday’s NFL divisional playoff football game in New Orleans.
New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas (13) pulls in a touchdown reception against Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Cre’von LeBlanc (34) in the second half of an NFL divisional playoff football game in New Orleans, Sunday.