Heart of a Champion
The Philadelphia Eagles came up seven points short. They came out and hammered the Saints in the 1st quarter, grabbing a 14 to 0 lead. We all agree though that it’s not necessarily how you start but how you finish. The Saints, led by Drew Brees and Micheal Thomas grounded the Eagles, knocking them out in the divisional round 20 to 14. The Saint will start preparing to host the Los Angeles Rams while the Eagles will clean out their lockers and get busy evaluating and assembling a team to take back the crown next year.
First Things First
Philadelphia jumped on New Orleans right out of the gate. A crack in Brees armor showed the opening play of the game. A 41 yard shot deep to Ted Ginn Jr. was picked off by Cre’von LeBlanc at the Eagles 24-yard line. Nick Foles and company wasted little time marching down the field. The drive was capped by a Foles to Jordan Matthews 37 yard touchdown pass.
After a 3 and out for the home team, Philadelphia went on a ten play drive ending with Foles reaching over the goal line for the second score and a two-touchdown lead. As an Eagles fan, you couldn’t have asked for a better start. The offense was clicking, the defense was winning the line of scrimmage. In games between good teams, there will be changes in momentum.
Reason One, A Little Short
With 13:45 left in the 2nd quarter Foles left a pass intended for Zach Ertz short. Marshon Lattimore picked off the pass and re-ignited the New Orleans faithful but not the Saints attack. The Eagles defense forced a three and out only New Orleans refused to participate in it. On fourth and one the Saints on their own 30 yard line direct snapped to Taysom Hill who only got four yards on the fake punt. That was still three more than he needed.
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After that Saints continued with an 8 play drive. A Brees to Keith Kirkwood touchdown pass got the Saints on the board. Two things happened with this drive. The Saints got over that shell shock from the Eagles first-quarter blitz, and they started to turnaround the all-important time of possession statistic.
Reason Two, If I Got It You Don’t
As I pointed out in my keys to the game, winning the time of possession battle was important. In the first meeting between these two teams, the Saints controlled the football for 15 minutes and 8 seconds more than the Eagles. That’s an entire quarter of the game. I don’t care who you are, with your defense on the field your front seven is going to get tired. Even a front seven as deep and nasty as Philadelphia’s.
The first quarter the Eagles owned the ball 9 minuets and 48 seconds. Almost doubling New Orleans. After that? Well the story changed dramatically. The change was punctuated by an 11 minute and 29 second drive that ended in the Saints go ahead touchdown and consumed nearly the entire 3rd quarter.The final time of possession tally in the divisional round was 15 minutes and 40 seconds.
Reason Three, Better Wasn’t Enough
In the week 11 game the Eagles had three tackles for loss and one hit on the quarterback. They were better with their aggression with five hits on the quarterback, three tackles for loss and two sacks. 10 disruptions are better than 4 but still a far cry from the 18 Philadelphia had been averaging since the first meeting between these two teams. I believe if the offense had been able to stay on the field that the Eagle defense would have had enough gas in the tank at the end.
Is this the end? Well for the 2018 season it is. But going forward it’s definitely not. The Eagles have a franchise quarterback that has yet to step on the field in the playoffs. Carson Wentz must be going crazy having to watch the past two years. Nick Foles place is secure in Philadelphia sports history. But this is Wentz’s team. Until next time, #FlyEaglesFly