The last thing the Eagles wanted to do was make it easy for Drew Brees and the Saints’ offense.
But after Nick Foles found Zach Ertz for a 3-yard touchdown that put the Eagles up 24-23 with 4:54 left, a special-teams mishap gave New Orleans the ball at the Eagles’ 48 yard line.
Darren Sproles took Alex Henery’s return down the right sideline for 39 yards. Cary Williams finally brought Sproles down, but was whistled for a horse-collar tackle.
So, what happened?
"I tried to do a little something different at the end, and I got caught inside," said Eagles special-teams ace Colt Anderson. "I should have been outside. I got greedy. I was trying to make the play and ended up getting myself out of position.
"The whole game they just kept hitting us in the middle, hitting us in the middle. They got us. Gotta give credit to them. Sproles is a good returner. At the end of the day, I didn’t do my job. It’s all on me."
Added Williams: "We lost contain, and that’s really what opened it up. So [if] we would have had guys going upfield in that situation, probably would have corralled him, had him in a vice, but he got outside and it is what it is. Guys make mistakes, and I compounded that mistake by going into a horse-collar. We practice that over and over. We understand that Sproles is shifty and a guy that can cut on a dime."
Williams acknowledged that he knew it was going to be a horse-collar, but the alternative was giving up a touchdown.
"I didn’t want to dive because if he skipped out of my dive and tackle, it would’ve been six points," he said. "And he’d have scored. In that situation, that was the first thing that came to my mind was to get him down and allow my defense an opportunity to stop ‘em. I’ve gotta look at the film, see what I could have done better maybe in that situation. But as far as I was concerned, I was just trying to get the guy down and make a play to allow the defense to get out there on the field."
Chip Kelly seemed to think Henery was partly to blame as well.
"I know it bounced out to their sideline so I couldn't exactly tell you," he said. "But we didn't get enough depth on it . We didn't hit the ball very well on kickoffs all day. The ball obviously in this weather wasn't traveling very far."
Said Henery: "There was one short one that I was not happy with. Other than that, the last kickoff I was happy with where it went. It was 2 yards deep into the wind. He just got outside of us. We have to cover better and we could always have better kicks."
The Eagles' defense still had a chance to stop New Orleans, but didn't get the job done. The Saints picked up three first downs before Shayne Graham hit a 32-yard field goal to end the game.