Defensive back Randall Goforth of the Philadelphia Eagles runs the ball against cornerback Robert Alford of the Atlanta Falcons during the fourth quarter in the NFC Divisional Playoff game. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, Pa. - A late fourth quarter drive by the Atlanta Falcons ended two yards short of the end zone, as a fourth down pass to Julio Jones fell to the turf with 58 seconds remaining in their NFC playoff matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles. The missed connection sent the Falcons to a 15-10 defeat, ending their season and their bid to return to the Super Bowl after last year's heartbreaking loss to the New England Patriots.
A short Jake Elliott field goal gave the Eagles a 15-10 lead with about six minutes remaining. That decisive 21-yard kick capped an 80-yard, 14 play drive that took nearly eight minutes off the clock.
That score came after the Eagles took a 12-10 lead on a 37-yard third quarter field goal by Elliott. The kick capped a third quarter dominated by both defenses. The Eagles defense remained strong in the fourth quarter, forcing a punt after the Falcons started a drive on their own 40-yard line following a kickoff out of bounds.
The Falcons high-powered offense was held in check throughout the game, scoring only after Eagles mistakes that gave them excellent field position. Atlanta was undefeated this season when scoring 20 points or more, but could not produce that many points in Saturday's playoff game,
The Falcons held a 10-9 halftime lead thanks to a special teams blunder by the Eagles that gave the Falcons offense a short field and led to a second quarter score. Devonta Freeman caught a 6-yard touchdown pass from Matt Ryan to give the Falcons the edge at that point. The short drive started when the Falcons recovered a punt at the 18 yard line after it was touched by the Eagles.
The Eagles kicked a 53-yard field goal as time expired in the second quarter to cut the Falcons lead to a single point at 10-9.
The Eagles had used a dominant rushing attack on a long drive to take the lead earlier in the 2nd quarter. The Eagles went ahead 6-3 after a 1-yard touchdown run by LeGarrette Blount capped a 14 play, 86-yard drive. The Eagles missed the extra point following that score.
Blount's touchdown run came on a fourth down play, after Eagles quarterback Nick Foles recovered a fumble on a botched third down run.
Defenses dominated the opening quarter of Saturday's game.The Falcons took advantage of a turnover to take an early 3-0 lead.
Matt Bryant made a 33-yard field goal on the Falcons' first possession. The drive started after Keanu Neal recovered a fumble from Eagles running back Jay Ajayi.
The Eagles advance to host the NFC Championship game next week against either the Minnesota Vikings or the New Orleans Saints.