Philadelphia Eagles advance to NFC Championship, despite being underdogs

Winning ground war is Eagles' best path to victory over Falcons

Philadelphia's 14-play, 80-yard drive stalled at the 3 and instead of going for it on fourth-and-1, they opted for the field goal. Facing pressure that ramped up as the game wore on, Ryan struggled to get in rhythm much of the night.

Oddsmakers laid a big ol' trap for bettors as soon as the Falcons knocked off the media darling Rams last week.

Thanks to Foles doing just enough to get by on offense after completing 23 of 30 passes for 246 yards with no turnovers, Philadelphia was able to prove all of the doubters wrong by hanging on for the tough win against Atlanta to advance to the NFC Championship to face the victor of Sunday's game between the New Orleans Saints and Minnesota Vikings. Many will point to Nick Foles as the key to the game, but I would argue it's the Eagles running attack that could play a bigger role. No running back for the Falcons has eclipsed 100 yards rushing all season after Tevin Coleman rushed for 79 of Atlanta's 86 yards Saturday. He didn't have any touchdowns.

It was never easy against the Falcons, but again, the Eagles defense rose to the occasion in the second half and Foles was able to make enough good, low-risk throws on two lengthy second-half drives that produced Elliott field goals. There's a lot of back and forth.

It began with an odd first half where both teams were catching breaks and making mistakes. Matt Bryant kicked a 33-yard field goal to give the Falcons an early lead.

Even wideout Nelson Agholor contributed on the ground, his 21-yard inside run leading to a weird near touchdown as Foles fumbled handing off to Corey Clement, recovered himself and fell short of the goalline with a lunge after recovering. That was right after Foles had to fall on a fumble the play before, a pretty fortunate turn of events. It was initially called a touchdown, but a review showed he was a half yard shy.

Blount took a pitch and scored on the next play. Elliott missed the extra point, hitting the left upright. Julio Jones caught nine passes for 101 yards but couldn't come down with the ball on the game-deciding, fourth-down play. Safety Keanu Neal recovered on the Atlanta 26-yard line.

A 37-yard field goal by Elliott gave the Eagles a 12-10 lead with 11 seconds left in the third quarter. Foles did get lucky as the Eagles got a field goal to make it a 10-9 Falcons lead before half-time thanks to a fortunate deflection. The former Alabama standout scrambled to his feet against the coverage of cornerback Jalen Mills and made a leap as Ryan flipped a pass in his direction.

If you don't know by now, the Philadelphia Eagles are the underdogs heading into their NFL Divisional Round matchup against the Atlanta Falcons. Next year is a different year and a different team.

The Atlanta Falcons are not your average six seed. On third and long, Ryan found Mohamed Sanu on a comeback route, but a review overturned the play.

Ryan completed 22 passes on 36 attempts.

Ryan will enter the game with a 1-2 career record on the road in the playoffs. So close to a Super Bowl victory a year ago, the devastating loss appears to have had a carryover effect for Atlanta, as they've underachieved all season.

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