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Eagles Hold On Against the Falcons to Reach the NFC Title Game

14 January 2018

Falcons go coldQuarterback Matt Ryan #2 of the Atlanta Falcons and teammates react against the Philadelphia Eagles.

They did. The Eagles pressured quarterback Matt Ryan on a sprint out and cornerback Jalen Mills covered Atlanta Falcons receiver Julio Jones in the end zone and kept him from making a catch to clinch the Eagles' 15-10 win Saturday, sending the Eagles into the NFC Championship Game a week from today at Lincoln Financial Field.

The Birds can now enjoy their Sunday, and watch the New Orleans Saints and Minnesota Vikings duel it out for the right to come to Philadelphia to play the Eagles in the NFC Championship Game. They will not get the opportunity to atone for it, though Ryan got them close at the end. They mixed it up with backs in the passing game, and with a wide receiver, Nelson Agholor, in the running game. "That's a play we practice all the time; in those situations you want to go to your best players, " Ryan said. "It just goes with the territory". The more plays the Eagles were able to run in succession, the more confident Foles got. Nothing about it made sense at the time or afterward.

"The missed-chances and the almosts, " is how head coach Dan Quinn described them all. Other RBs made a lot of plays.

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Including that last one.

In his three regular-season starts, Foles looked nothing like the Eagles quarterback who, in 2013, started 10 games and completed 64 percent of his throws with 27 touchdowns and just two interceptions, and a passer rating of 119.2. He added 44 yards on three catches including a monumental 32-yard pickup, the longest reception for Philadelphia, on a third down during the Eagles' opening drive of the fourth quarter that led to the game's final points.

The Falcons have pumped in artificial noise in practice this week but will lean heavily on Ryan and center Alex Mack to use their experience with silent counts and hand signals.

"There's enough substance behind his career that merits having confidence", Eagles offensive coordinator Frank Reich said.

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That was the Keanu Neal-Torrey Smith-Alshon Jeffery sequence in the final 22 seconds of the half.

Players were barking like dogs, jumping up and down, the Eagles 66-year-old owner was break dancing and Lane Johnson and Chris Long were wearing dog masks. Foles played well in his first five quarters and struggled in the next five. And part of that had to do with an Eagles team forced to start Nick Foles.

A 37-yard field goal by Elliott gave the Eagles a 12-10 lead with 11 seconds left in the third quarter. Ryan did his best Brett Favre impression to spin away from pressure before lobbing a short pass to a crossing Devonta Freeman for a six-yard score. Julio Jones was Julio Jones for Atlanta, catching nine passes for 101 yards.

"Nobody has given us a chance", Pederson said, looking back to the December ACL tear that ended Wentz' season. "You work all year to put yourself in the situation that we've done to get the home-field advantage, you get that first-round bye, and the whole week before people say we're the underdogs".

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Eagles Hold On Against the Falcons to Reach the NFC Title Game