Observations: Saints 26, Eagles 24

Jan 4, 2014; Philadelphia, PA, USA; New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) prepares to throw the ball as Philadelphia Eagles outside linebacker Trent Cole (58) and Eagles defensive end Fletcher Cox (91) chase in the first quarter during the 2013 NFC wild card playoff football game at Lincoln Financial Field. Photo |  Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Here’s what we saw during tonight’s Eagles-Saints game.

OFFENSE

* The Eagles’ offense got going in the second half, but it wasn’t enough as their season ended in a 26-24 loss to the Saints.

* Nick Foles went 23-for-33 for 195 yards and two touchdowns. In the second, he found Riley Cooper for a 10-yard score. And in the fourth, Foles hit Zach Ertz for a 3-yard TD.

* DeSean Jackson was shut out in the first half and targeted just once. It looked like Saints cornerback Keenan Lewis was on him most of the time. But in the third quarter, Lewis went out with a head injury, and with the offense needing a spark, Jackson made a great play on a 50/50 ball for 40 yards. McCoy ended up scoring from 1 yard out on the drive. On the Eagles’ next possession, Jackson had a 29-yard punt return to help set up an Eagles field goal. And in the fourth, he drew a 40-yard pass interference penalty to set up a Foles TD pass.

* LeSean McCoy had trouble getting going with 77 yards on 21 carries.

* Riley Cooper had six catches for 68 yards, but had a costly drop in the third quarter. Cooper was wide open on a crossing route on third down, but couldn’t hang on to a perfectly-placed Foles pass. The Eagles ended up punting.

* Bad sequence in the second quarter. The Eagles moved into field-goal range, but Brent Celek was dropped for an 8-yard loss on a screen. Foles then held on to the ball for way too long and took a 12-yard sack. Alex Henery set up for a 48-yard field goal after a McCoy run, but missed wide left.

* On the Eagles’ first possession, it looked like Foles had Celek open downfield on a corner route, but he instead dumped it down to Jason Avant on a shorter route. On third down, Foles and McCoy were not on the same page, and the Eagles had to punt.

* Pass protection was good for most of the game. Foles was sacked twice. Lane Johnson and Todd Herremans got beat badly on one sack in the third quarter.

DEFENSE

* The Eagles’ defense held up well in the first half, but gave up 20 points in the second half. Drew Brees went 20-for-30 for 250 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions.

* Huge special-teams mishap down the stretch. Darren Sproles returned a kickoff 39 yards, and Cary Williams was called for a horse-collar tackle, giving the Saints possession at the Eagles’ 48. From there, New Orleans drove 34 yards to set up the game-winning 32-yard field goal.

* Surprisingly, the Saints were able to run the ball all over the Eagles, totaling 185 yards on the ground and averaging 5.1 YPC.

* On one scoring play in the third, Brees faked a toss, rolled out and found Lance Moore for a 24-yard touchdown. It looked like he had the entire Eagles’ defense fooled. Later, Roc Carmichael came in for an injured Cary Williams, and Brees went after him, completing a 14-yard pass on third down. The Eagles also left Ben Watson wide open for a 27-yard completion on the drive. Ingram scored from 10 yards out.

* In the fourth, Patrick Chung got beat by Robert Meachem on a 40-yard completion. That led to a 35-yard field goal.

* Bradley Fletcher had excellent coverage on Kenny Stills in the second and made a nice play on the ball for an interception. Later in the quarter, DeMeco Ryans undercut a Brees pass for Moore for a second interception.

* The Eagles thought they had a takeaway in the second quarter as Ryans knocked the ball out of Jimmy Graham’s hands on third down, but the play was reviewed, and the officials ruled that Graham’s knee was down. The Saints went for it on fourth down, but were called for a false start. They ended up converting a 36-yard field goal for the game’s first score.

* With under two minutes left in the second, the Saints drove 47 yards on eight plays. But Connor Barwin batted down a Brees pass, and Trent Cole had a sack to force a field goal. Brandon Graham also had a sack on the drive.

* Cole had a pass break-up early on. Connor Barwin got matched up against Darren Sproles on a wheel route, but Brees underthrew him badly.

* Earl Wolff was active, but did not see the field. Patrick Chung started alongside Nate Allen.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.
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