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Eagles vs. Saints: Instant Analysis from loss

Eliot Shorr-Parks
January 13, 2019 - 7:45 pm

In the first quarter on Sunday, it appeared the Eagles were once again preparing to shock the world. 

Then, for the first time in weeks, the 2018 team showed up. 

A combination of penalties, injuries and a terrible showing on offense doomed the Eagles on Sunday in their 20-14 loss to the New Orleans Saints, a game in which they held a 14-0 lead in after one quarter. 

The loss ends the Eagles season and begins what is going to be a crucial offseason for this team. 

Here are some takeaways from the loss:

Foles: Foles couldn’t have scripted a better start to the game. On the first drive of the game,  Foles dropped a dime of a deep pass to receiver Jordan Matthews for 37-yard touchdown.  Then, on the next drive after the defense forced a three-and-out, Foles hit receiver Alshon Jeffery on 3rd-and-seven for a critical first down, moving the Eagles to the Saints’ four-yard line. Two plays later, Foles ran it in for the touchdown to give the Eagles a 14-0 lead. Overall, Foles started the game 8-of-9 for 113 yards, one passing touchdown and one rushing touchdown. 

Foles cooled off, however. 

His interception with just under 14 minutes to play in the second quarter could have been a big play, as he had tight end Zach Ertz open down the sideline, but Foles under threw him and it was picked off by cornerback Marshon Lattimore. The Saints scored on the next drive to pull within 14-7 with just under eight minutes to play in the second quarter. 

The offense didn’t get anything going the rest of the game as Foles played one of the worst halves he has played this season. His accuracy was off. He checked the ball down. He didn’t take chance of the plays that were there to be made. Still, despite all of that, Foles had a chance to win the game at the end with just over two minutes to play -- only to see his perfectly placed pass go right through the hands of receiver Alshon Jeffery and into the hands of Lattimore. The interception ended the comeback and the Eagles' season. 

Alshon Jeffery: Jeffery had a dominating run leading up to Sunday's game, but there is no way around it -- he came up small when it mattered most. The dropped pass ended what was shaping up to be another magical drive by the Eagles, ended the game and ended the season. The Eagles pay Jeffery to make that catch. They count on him to make that catch. He didn't get the job done. 

Missed chance: The Eagles were completely dominating the game, up 14-0, when defensive end Brandon Graham knocked the ball out of Brees’ hand with just under one minute to play in the first quarter. Graham — and a number of other Eagles — failed to pick up fumble. Although the Saints fumbled, they could have had the ball in Saints territory up 14-0. Instead, the Saints punted and the offense turned the ball over on the next possession. 

Saints' controlled the clock: The Saints took over control of this game from the Eagles in the third quarter, when they went on an 11-play, 92-yard drive that killed 11 minutes and 29 seconds off the clock. The drive was not a pretty one, as the Saints were flagged three times and faced three third-downs. The Eagles had multiple chances to get off the field, especially on a third-and-16 play in which they gave up a 20-yard catch to receiver Michael Thomas. The drive gave the Saints their first lead of the game, 17-14, and sucked all of the life out of the Eagles. 

Fake punt: After a Foles interception the Eagles seemed to have forced the Saints off the field after stuffing running back Mark Ingram on third-and-one. After head coach Doug Pederson decided to turn down a holding penalty, however, the Saints ran a fake punt on 4th-and-one, which they converted. The play proved to be a huge one, as the Saints went down the field after the conversion to score their first touchdown of the game and pull within 14-7 with just over seven minutes to play in the game. 

Injuries: The Eagles lost a number of impact players early on in this game. First, offensive guard Brandon Brooks was carted off the field on the second drive of the game with a leg injury. Stefen Wisniewski went in. Then, cornerback Rasul Douglas was carted off with an ankle injury.  By the time defensive tackle Fletcher Cox went down, the Eagles were playing extremely short handed for most of the second quarter. 

LeBlanc: The Eagles needed a quick start on Sunday. Cornerback Cre’von LeBlanc made sure they got it. LeBlanc made a great play one a terrible throw by Brees, leaping for a Brees pass that was too short down the field and making the catch for an interception. The play gave the Eagles the momentum they needed early, as the offense scored on the opening drive to take a 7-0 lead.

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