Grade the Eagles: Run game earns ‘D,’ Nick Foles can’t finish in playoff loss to Saints
The grades are in on the Eagles' performance in Sunday's 20-14 loss to the Saints in the divisional playoffs
NEW ORLEANS -- The Eagles' season is over following the Saints' 20-14 win in the NFC divisional playoff round.
Paul Domowitch graded the Eagles' offense, defense and special teams. See how he thinks the team performed, then offer up your own grades.
The loss of Pro Bowl right guard Brandon Brooks in the first quarter short-circuited the ground game. Wendell Smallwood rushed for 22 yards on the Eagles’ first two touchdown drives, but had 11 on five carries the rest of the game. The Eagles’ only double-digit-yard run play was a 12-yard end-around to wide receiver Nelson Agholor.
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Nick Foles finally ran out of magic. He led the Eagles to a pair of touchdowns on their first two possessions, completing seven of eight passes for 107 yards, including a beautiful 37-yard TD pass to Jordan Matthews. But on the Eagles’ other eight possessions, he was 11-for-23 for 94 yards. Alshon Jeffery, who has been such a valuable weapon for Foles, had a pass go off his hands late in the game for an interception that killed a possible game-winning scoring drive.
The Eagles did a good job on Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara for the first three quarters, holding them to a combined 60 yards on 16 carries. But they gave up a 36-yard run to Ingram that set up a Wil Lutz field goal that made it a six-point game, and a 13-yarder to Kamara on a third-and-13 play that allowed the Saints to squeeze another 2 ½ minutes off the clock when the Eagles needed the ball back.
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Cre’Von LeBlanc intercepted Drew Brees’ first pass of the game, and the Eagles sacked the Saints quarterback twice. But injuries on both the front (Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham, Chris Long) and back (cornerback Rasul Douglas) ends hamstrung the defense much of the game. After completing just two of six passes in the first quarter, Brees was 26-for-32 for 271 yards and two touchdowns the rest of the way. The Eagles couldn’t stop wide receiver Michael Thomas, who had 12 catches for 171 yards and a touchdown.
The Eagles got fooled by a fake punt on a fourth-and-1 early in the second quarter that kept alive the Saints’ first scoring drive and shifted momentum to the Saints after the Eagles had silenced the Superdome with their two early touchdown drives. Late in the game, they got enough pressure on Saints kicker Wil Lutz to influence a 52-yard field goal miss.
» QUICK TAKES: Key play, drive that changed the game for Eagles
The Eagles took a team that beat it by 41 points two months ago down to the wire. The offense couldn’t do much after those first two touchdown drives. They averaged just 3.6 yards per play and had seven first downs on their last eight possessions. Considering the injuries they had to deal with, the defense did a good job holding Brees and the Saints to 20 points at home.
» MIKE SIELSKI: Despite the loss, give them credit: This team gave everything.
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