Eagles make dramatic stand, best Falcons

Nick Foles will start in his first playoff game since 2013

Nick Foles will start in his first playoff game since 2013

Despite being three-point underdogs as the No. 1 seed, the Eagles showed moxie.

At times it wasn't pretty and the Eagles still have some things they need to clean up if they still want to make the Super Bowl.

Rather than play down to expectations, they appeared determined to prove the doubters and the oddsmakers wrong-and they did.

"Nick is Nick", Pederson said of Foles. "You do your study, you do your preparing, and they come out and run the identical play, and the guys did a good job of stopping it, man". But coach Doug Pederson catered better to Foles' caretaker ways, trusting everything around him to push through into the fourth quarter.

For the second time in the first half, Atlanta turned the turnover into points. A botched hand-off early in the second quarter led to another fumble. Matt Ryan overthrew Julio Jones in the end zone, and the Eagles survived.

It was initially ruled a touchdown, but the call was overturned upon review. LeGarrette Blount led the Eagles with 766 yards rushing and scored two TDs. Completing that final pass to Jones, completing what would have been a game-winning drive and dramatic comeback against a formidable Eagles defense, would have elevated him in the eyes of those who question whether he's truly among the game's elite.

Foles overthrows Zach Ertz over the middle and the ball bounces off the knee of Falcons safety Keanu Neal before landing safely in the arms of Smith, who lunges forward to midfield. 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.

Foles went 10-12 on play action passes for 86 yards and a passer rating of 96.5. But a five-point lead meant the Falcons just needed to get in the end zone to take the lead.

They'll meet the victor between the Minnesota Vikings and New Orleans Saints. At 4th and goal, and attempt by quarterback Matt Ryan to his receiver was just out of reach, returning the ball back to the Eagles. He wasn't open. Ryan whipped his head back around to Jones and tossed the ball up where only the acrobatic receiver could go up and get it. "We're certainly disappointed that we didn't go further and get the job done, but next year's a different year". "You know, all the stuff that was being said". It just didn't work out and that's disappointing.

All the concern over Foles ended up being for nothing, partly because he played well and partly because of the play calling. The Falcons also gifted the Eagles 63 yards worth of pass interference calls of their own. "The reason I play this game is to win a championship".

Thanks to Foles doing just enough to get by on offense after completing 23 of 30 passes for 246 yards with no turnovers, Philadelphia was able to prove all of the doubters wrong by hanging on for the tough win against Atlanta to advance to the NFC Championship to face the victor of Sunday's game between the New Orleans Saints and Minnesota Vikings. Despite how Foles played, it will not be surprising if the Eagles end up being underdogs again next week.

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