Eagles 15, Falcons 10
It was a breezy day in Philadelphia. The players on the field looked like they were being blown around at a few points. But the top-seeded Philadephia Eagles were able to fight through.
Despite entering as underdogs, the Eagles topped the sixth-seeded Atlanta Falcons 15-10. Philly had a number of mistakes in the first half that could’ve set them back as the game went on, but a slight offensive resurgence after halftime allowed them to pull ahead and never look back.
Jay Ajayi fumbled the ball away on his first carry. Kicker Jake Elliott doinked an extra point off the left upright following their first (and only) touchdown of the game. A miscommunication on special teams resulted in a muffed punt that the Falcons recovered inside the red zone, which led to their lone TD.
Elliott redeemed himself with a 53-yard rocket at the end of the first half to put the score at 10-9 in the favor of the Falcons. He also scored all of the Eagles points from there on out.
The Eagles cleaned up their act in the second half, minimizing mistakes and blanking the Falcons offense. Their defense stepped up big time in that regard, especially with their late-game stand when Atlanta had a shot for the go-ahead TD at the Eagles 2-yard line.
Nick Foles looked uncomfortable during the first two quarters; the powerful winds shot down many of his throws, and there were numerous plays where the Falcons should’ve intercepted the ball. However, he put things together down the stretch, finishing at 246 yards on 23 for 30 passing.
Ajayi recovered after his fumble, rushing 15 times for 54 yards and catching 3 passes for 44 yards. LeGarrette Blount (9 carries, 19 yards) scored from a yard out. Alshon Jeffery led the team with 61 yards on 4 receptions.
Matt Ryan also had bad luck with some of his passes, mainly when he went deep. He did show some impressive moves getting away from sacks, including on his TD throw to Devonta Freeman. Ryan couldn’t get the Falcons the necessary TD to win though. He ended up with 210 yards on 22 for 36 passing.
The Falcons split their carries between Freeman and Tevin Coleman at 10 each. The latter (79 yards) was a lot more productive than the former (7 yards), though Freeman caught 5 passes for 26 yards and the TD. Julio Jones was a monster, pulling in 9 passes for 101 yards. He couldn’t reel in Ryan’s final pass, however.
This win sends the Eagles to their sixth NFC Championship Game of the 21st Century. They’ll host the winner of the Minnesota Vikings and New Orleans Saints game that will kick off at 4:40 p.m. tomorrow.
Patriots 35, Titans 14
Memo to all: the New England Patriots gain power from any attention the media gives them. Please consider this in the future.
Safe to say that if there is tension within the Patriots locker room, it didn’t have any visible effect on them last night, as they crushed the Tennessee Titans 35-14. Aside from an early touchdown drive and a garbage time score late, the Titans struggled to keep up with the quick pace the Patriots threw at them.
Both defenses got consistent pressure on the opposing quarterback all night, but the difference was how quick Tom Brady got the ball out to options underneath. He avoided numerous sacks, and the Titans finished with none as a result.
Meanwhile, Marcus Mariota was victimized most of the game by Patriots pass rushers, who racked up 8 sacks total. Right tackle Jack Conklin getting injured early on was a huge factor. Deatrich Wise and Geneo Grissom had 2 sacks each.
It spoiled what was a solid evening for Mariota otherwise. He threw for 254 yards and 2 TDs on 22 for 37 passing. Both scores went to rookie Corey Davis, who had 5 catches for 63 yards. Eric Decker played a significant role as well, finishing with 6 receptions for 85 yards.
The Patriots defense smothered Derrick Henry, who had to man the rushing attack by himself with the absence of DeMarco Murray. He had just 28 yards on 12 carries. Mariota actually had more yards (37) on 4 scrambles.
James White was the X-factor in last season’s Super Bowl win over the Falcons for the Patriots, and he did the same in this one, scoring twice: once on the ground (4 carries, 11 yards) and the other on a flip pass from Brady (4 catches, 29 yards).
The other backs were heavily featured too. Dion Lewis had 15 carries for 62 yards and 9 catches for 79 yards, while Brandon Bolden had 4 carries for 27 yards and a TD. They really do have an endless supply of running backs.
Brady threw 53 times, an insane number for someone of his age, completing 35 passes and throwing for 337 yards and 3 TDs. One was a 4-yard score to Chris Hogan (his only catch of the night) and the other went to Rob Gronkowski (6 catches, 81 yards). Danny Amendola led the way with 11 receptions for 112 yards.
Now the Patriots wait to see who they’ll host next Sunday in Foxborough for the AFC Championship Game: the Pittsburgh Steelers or the Jacksonville Jaguars. Whoever it is, you know that Bill Belichick will have them ready.