Matt Ryan‘s fourth-down pass went through a leaping Julio Jones‘ hands on a broken play, preserving a 15-10 victory for the Philadelphia Eagles in the Divisional Round of the playoffs. Here’s what we learned in Saturday’s NFC nail-biter:
1. This was a victory straight out of a 1980s Bill Parcells game script, with power pushing speed around the field as the Eagles won the battle in the trenches on both sides of the ball. Although the offensive line dominated from the outset, their first-half handiwork was undone by the self-sabotage of four fumbles and a series of Nick Foles misfires. Fortunate to enter halftime down by just one point, the Eagles took control of the contest late in the third quarter with a pair of methodical field-goal drives that totaled 154 yards on 26 plays and 13:39 in time of possession.
2. Ten months of planning, practice and game execution came down to one play at the 2-yard line, in large part because Julio Jones beat Pro Bowl safety Malcolm Jenkins for a 20-yard gain to pick up a crucial fourth-and-6 first down after the catch rule’s notorious “survive the ground” clause overturned Mohamed Sanu‘s third-down conversion. It’s fitting that Philadelphia’s defense bowed up for four plays with the season on the line after Tevin Coleman‘s 10-yard run gave Atlanta a first-and-goal opportunity at the 9-yard line. Starting in the second quarter, Fletcher Cox and the Eagles defensive front seven took control of the line of scrimmage, forcing six punts on seven Falcons possessions as Foles’ offense found its footing and managed a trio of field-goal drives to grind out the win.