PHILADELPHIA — With quarterback Nick Foles engineering several long drives, the rookie Jake Elliott kicking three field goals and the defense getting stingy in the tightest of spots, the Philadelphia Eagles moved into the N.F.C. championship game by beating the Atlanta Falcons, 15-10, on Saturday.
LeGarrette Blount scored the Eagles’ only touchdown of the game, rushing 1 yard on fourth down for a 6-3 lead early in the second quarter. Elliott missed the extra point.
Foles directed brilliant marches of 74 and 80 yards in the second half — one into a whipping wind, the other with it at his back. And Elliott atoned for his miss by converting from 53 yards at the end of the second quarter, then from 37 and 21 yards in the second half.
The Falcons, of course, memorably blew a 28-3 second-half lead to the Patriots in last year’s Super Bowl. They will not have the opportunity to atone for that now, though Ryan got them close at the end.
Near the final minute, the Eagles (14-3) held their lead when Atlanta (11-7) got to the 9-yard line for a first down, and to the 2 on fourth down.
Matt Ryan’s final pass sailed over Julio Jones’s head in the end zone, assuring the Eagles’ first playoff victory since the 2008 season.
Next Sunday, the Eagles will host either Minnesota or New Orleans to decide which N.F.C. team will play in the Super Bowl on Feb. 4. The Eagles have reached the Super Bowl twice, losing both times — to the Oakland Raiders after the 1980 season and to the New England Patriots 13 years ago.
Despite being the No. 1 seed, the Eagles were underdogs because of quarterback Carson Wentz’s absence.
“We just kept believing in each other,” said Foles, who became the starter when Wentz tore a knee ligament 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 for 30 for 246 yards over all, while Ryan was 22 of 36 for 210. Neither threw an interception.
On the Eagles’ 74-yard drive, Foles was 5 for 6 for 70 yards, the only incompletion being a drop by Jay Ajayi. The drive ended with Elliott’s 37-yard kick into the wind that made the score 12-10 in the third quarter.
The Eagles then put together an 80-yard drive covering 14 plays, but again faltered close to the end zone. Elliott added a 21-yard kick with 6 minutes 2 seconds remaining after Coach Doug Pederson briefly considered going for it on fourth-and-1 at the Atlanta 3.
Then, as the Philadelphia fans held their breath, the Eagles held on deep in their territory.
“Man, just stay calm,” said defensive tackle Fletcher Cox, who was a force all day. “We always talk about that. We’ve been in those situations during the regular season, so we kind of know how to handle those situations, not try to make a play but let the play come to us.”
And the road to the Super Bowl remains through Philadelphia.
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