Quarterback Nick Foles helped top-seeded Philadelphia, which was a three-point underdog, beat the Falcons 15-10. Foles, who became the starter when standout Carson Wentz injured his knee last month, was 23 of 30 for 246 yards.
PHILADELPHIA – Fly Eagles Fly.
With the wind and against it.
With Nick Foles engineering some long drives, Jake Elliott converting three field goals and the defense getting stingy in the tightest spot, Philadelphia moved into the NFC Championship game with a 15-10 victory over the Atlanta Falcons on Saturday.
Foles directed brilliant marches of 74 and 80 yards in the second half — one into the whipping wind, the other with it — and Elliott atoned for missing an extra point by converting from 53 yards at the end of the second quarter, and from 37 and 21 yards in the second half.
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Then the Eagles (14-3) held when Atlanta (11-7) got to the 9-yard line with a first down, and to the 2 for a fourth-down play.
When Matt Ryan’s final pass sailed over Julio Jones’ head and through his hands in the end zone, top-seeded Philadelphia could celebrate its first playoff victory since the 2008 season.
Next Sunday, the Eagles will host either Minnesota or New Orleans for the conference title.
“I mean, we just kept believing in each other,” said Foles, who became the starting quarterback when Carson Wentz, a leading league MVP contender, injured his knee in December. “That was it. Our team never wavered, defense did an amazing job, special teams — that’s just been the story this year, is that we just all stuck together.”
Foles was 23 of 30 for 246 yards.
The Falcons, of course, memorably blew a 28-3 second-half lead to the New England Patriots in last year’s Super Bowl. They will not get the opportunity to atone for it.
Despite being three-point underdogs as the No. 1 seed, the Eagles showed moxie.
“Just keep on disrespecting and we’re going to keep proving people wrong,” receiver Alshon Jeffery said.
A 74-yard, 12-play drive on which Foles threw for 70 yards led to Elliott’s 37-yard kick into the wind that made the score 12-10.
The Eagles then put together their best drive, an 80-yarder covering 14 plays, yet again faltered close to the end zone.
Elliott added a 21-yarder with 6:02 remaining after coach Doug Pederson briefly considered going for it on fourth-and-one at the Atlanta 3.
Then, as their fans held their breath, the Eagles held deep in their territory.
Jones, covered by Jalen Mills, fell to the ground before getting up and leaping in vain for Ryan’s pass. “At the end of the day, I can make those plays,” Jones said.