Nick Foles benefits from run-first mentality in win

Andrew Cummings
January 16, 2018

Despite playing against a Philadelphia Eagles team that's starting a backup quarterback, Matt Ryan and co. couldn't get the job done. They even hung up copies of analyst predictions to show how many people were siding with the Falcons. The Vikings intercepted Brees twice in the first half and held the Saints without a third-down conversion in the first two quarters. While Jared Goff was the current starter for the Rams after leading the team to the No. 3 seed, Case Keenum (Minnesota Vikings) and Nick Foles (Philadelphia Eagles) would be participating in the playoffs as well. He posted games of 89 receiving yards or more eight times in 16 regular-season contests. It ended with Philadelphia going up 15-10.

Jones was one of four players with Alabama football roots involved in the Falcons-Eagles game, although none of the others - Falcons defensive lineman Courtney Upshaw (Eufaula, Alabama) and long snapper Josh Harris (Auburn) and Eagles guard Chance Warmack (Alabama) - started or recorded any stats.

The Eagles advanced to the NFC Championship Game for the first time since January 2009. They took advantage of every miscue and gave Foles chances over and over, to either score or control the clock. Facing pressure that ramped up as the game wore on, Ryan struggled to get in rhythm much of the night. He was under center the last time the Eagles reached the playoffs, which was the 2013 Wild Card round. Reigning NFL MVP Matt Ryan of Atlanta throws for 203 yards on 21-of-34 passing and one touchdown.

As expected, Pederson added wrinkles into his game plan, a third-down counter to Nelson Agholor that gained 21 yards on the team's lone touchdown drive, consecutive and identical screens on a pivotal fourth-quarter scoring drive and an opening-play bomb that didn't work but sent a message to Atlanta that the Eagles didn't intend to play hide-the-quarterback.

Jay Ajayi rallied after fumbling his first carry of the game.

The Birds entered halftime trailing 10-9 before Foles picked up steam to help them emerge with a narrow victory. The Falcons also gifted the Eagles 63 yards worth of pass interference calls of their own in the first two series of the game. If the Eagles duo slows Thielen and Diggs down, it will go a long way toward a Super Bowl berth.

But if Foles can manage to continue to play as he did in the second half, all bets are off.

Final score-Eagles 15 Falcons 10.

But kicker Jake Elliott atoned at the end of the half. A Foles pass went off the knee of a leaping Keanu Neal and the ball caromed back to Eagles receiver Torrey Smith. Foles drove the Eagles into a field-goal range, where Elliott's 37-yard field goal gave the Eagles a 12-10 lead.

Brees sandwiched two touchdown passes to Michael Thomas around a Keenum interception to get his team back in the game. In the second half, however, the script flipped.

But Foles, 28, is also the same guy who once threw seven TDs in a single game, the same guy who in 2013 during in his first tour with the Eagles, became the second-ever QB to post a ideal 158.3 passer rating in a single game.

There will be no epic Super Bowl choke this year for the Atlanta Falcons.

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