NFC Playoff Recap: Divisional Weekend

…And then the Saints went marching in…

New Orleans Saints- 20

Philadelphia Eagles- 14

OK- humblebrag time, I nailed the Eagles tally at 14.  I’ll be honest though, I didn’t expect the Saints to have so much trouble ending the Eagles season.  I thought this game was likely to be the biggest rout in the divisional round.  It ended up being the closest game all weekend.

For New Orleans, something was off right away.  The game’s first play from scrimmage was a Drew Brees downfield heave that was intended to catch the Eagles secondary off guard.  It did no such thing, eventually ending up in the arms of Eagles cornerback Cre’von LeBlanc.  Nick Foles and crew then marched downfield with their trade mark blend of improbable catches and longer than expected running plays.  I’ll say this again.  The Eagles offense definitely works better under Nick Foles than with Carson Wentz, I just have no earthly idea why.  Before Brees and crew could get organized, they were looking at a 14-0 hole after the first frame.  People in the City of Brotherly Love were running into beams and climbing greased streetlamps in anticipation.  Then, all of a sudden, the magic ran out, the whiz-wit went away, and the Saints defense did what it was expected to do.

They got Drew Brees the ball back so many times that statistically, it became highly improbable that he wouldn’t at least accidentally score enough points to win.

Let’s take a look at the Eagles drive chart after their first two TD’s, shall we?

Interception

Punt

Punt

End of the Half

Punt

Punt

Punt

Interception

That, my friends, is three quarters of offensive futility.  The Eagles couldn’t get the running game going, totaling only 49 yards in the game, and the Saints Marshon Lattimore preyed on an increasingly desperate Nick Foles for those two INT’s, one of which led to a New Orleans TD, while the other closed out the Eagles last hope.  Saints receiver Michael Thomas showed why he’s the best receiver in the game right now, hauling in twelve catches for 171 yards and a TD.  Most importantly, the Saints showed some veteran grit, not panicking when down by two TD’s, or when they trailed at the half.  You can only get that kind of leadership from a steady core of veteran players.  The Saints have a long list of those on the roster.  It may not go down as Drew Brees most impressive playoff performance, as he went 28/38 for 301 yards, 2 TDs and an INT, but the Saints field general showed his resolve in what could have become a career-defining collapse.  Instead, he rallied his troops and brought them all the way back, just like everyone expected.

Except me.  I expected them to blow the Eagles out of the water.

Nobody’s perfect.

Editor’s note:  Want more NFL playoff coverage?  look here.

Photo credit: Newsday

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