The Philadelphia Eagles lost to the New Orleans Saints last night, January 13th, in a contested 20 – 14 battle. In the heat of the loss, many were quick to blame wide receiver Alshon Jeffery of the Eagles for the loss because of his untimely drop-turned-interception.
With 2:01 to go in the game, the Eagles ran a play right before the two minute warning. Foles threw the ball into Jeffery’s hands, but the ball slipped through his hands and into the arms of Saints cornerback Marshon Lattimore for the game-ending interception.
With a day between us and the ending of the game, it’s quite clear that Alshon Jeffery is not to blame for the loss. Yes, the Eagles did have a chance to win the game and yes, the Eagles were near the Saints 20-yard line with about 2 minutes to go until that happened. However, that one play is not the reason why the Eagles lost. It just so happened that that one play was the final chance for the Eagles to win the game and that’s why everyone is so quick to blame Jeffery.
The reality is that the Eagles lost last night because after going up 14 – 0 in the 1st quarter and starting red hot on offense, they did absolutely nothing the rest of the game. Yes, the defense gave up plenty of yards, a whole lot of 3rd down conversions, and plenty of time of possession, but at the end of the day, the Eagles defense did their job. The Eagles defense held Drew Brees and the 30.8 points per game Saints to only 20 points in the Superdome!
Had I told you that the Eagles would hold the Saints to 20 points, you would’ve put all your money on the Eagles to win this game. Any objective person would have believed the Eagles would win had they known the Saints would only score 20 at home in that special Dome.
In essence, the Eagles needed to score more as 14 is clearly not enough to beat anybody in the NFL, especially not in the playoffs. And unfortunately, the Eagles couldn’t do anything on offense for 3 straight quarters. It just happens that Alshon Jeffery’s drop-interception came about on the Eagles final chance. If this play happened earlier in the game, no one would be blaming Jeffery and ultimately, the reality is no one should be blaming him. The blame should go all around on that offense for doing nothing for 3 straight quarters after having a 14 – 0 lead.
With that said, Eagles fans should not be sour, but rather, proud. The Philadelphia Eagles surpassed everyone’s expectations and faced so many different obstacles and were still able to be one interception away from the NFC Championship game!
From the start of the season, the Eagles had a target on their backs as defending Champions. Every team playing them, whether away or home, wanted to give them extra effort because who doesn’t want to beat the Champions? Furthermore, the Eagles had plenty of players get injured before and during the season, especially players in the Eagles secondary. In fact, the only starter left in that secondary from Week 1 was safety Malcolm Jenkins. These injuries had profound effects on the defense and thus the team. It took the Eagles time to learn how to cover up that weakness in the secondary as it was gashing, as shown in last night’s game.
Combining these two obstacles, the Eagles started off very slow and were always near .500 throughout the season until December 9th. On December 9th, the Eagles lost to the Cowboys for the 2nd time in the season and were standing with a 6-7 record. To make matters worse, they also lost their starting quarterback, Carson Wentz, to injury.
At this point, every writer, analyst, pundit, everyone including myself, gave up on the Eagles. The season was over according to all us and boy were we wrong. The magical Nick Foles came in and the Eagles went on to win 3 straight games against the Rams, Texans, and Redskins to finish the season with a 9-7 record, earning a playoff spot as the 6th seed. The Eagles then went into Chicago and took down the #1 defense in a tightly contested 16 – 15 game and then came up short to the Saints.
For the Eagles to have made it this far with all the obstacles is something special. As a Giants fan, sincerely, well done Eagles.