The Eagles’ collapse against the Saints was much bigger than one dropped pass.
Alshon Jeffery was a playoff hero for the Philadelphia Eagles a year ago. He caught two touchdown passes in the NFC Championship and one in the Super Bowl to help the Eagles win their first ever Lombardi Trophy.
This time around, Jeffery’s postseason ended with the 6’3 wide receiver facedown in disbelief.
With the Eagles 27 yards away from what could’ve been a game-winning touchdown, Nick Foles threw a dart to Jeffery that went straight through the receiver’s hands. The beneficiary of Jeffery’s drop was New Orleans Saints cornerback Marshon Lattimore, who intercepted the pass to seal a 20-14 win.
Marshon Lattimore picks off Foles for the second time today!#PHIvsNO | #HomeInTheDome pic.twitter.com/FmD3d1nzdp
— New Orleans Saints (@Saints) January 14, 2019
It was a heartbreaking finish for the Eagles and for Jeffery. Prior to that pass, the receiver didn’t have a drop all game. More than that, Jeffery didn’t have a drop in his entire postseason career.
Alshon Jeffery’s drop to secure the win for the Saints was his first career playoff drop on 35 targets per @PFF #Eagles #Saints
— NFL Research (@NFLResearch) January 14, 2019
After the game, Jeffery was unsurprisingly dejected. He told reporters that he let his teammates down and that the loss was on him.
Alshon Jeffery: “To the city of Philadelphia, that’s on me. I’ll take that.” pic.twitter.com/ngIwHdH3R0
— SPORTSRADIO 94WIP (@SportsRadioWIP) January 14, 2019
“It sucks right now. Everyone in the locker room, we’re all down,” Jeffery said. “Like I said, I let my teammates down, I let the city of Philadelphia down. That’s on me. We’ll be back next year for sure. One play don’t define me. … It happens. It’s part of football. I just hated the way it happened in the playoffs, and it was the final moment.”
Pinning the loss on Jeffery wouldn’t be fair, though. The offense for the Eagles disappeared after jumping out to a 14-0 lead and never scored another point. That was a problem long before Jeffery’s drop in the final minutes.
And the defense — which started strong — couldn’t get off the field in the second half, even giving up an 18-play, 92-yard touchdown drive that took 11 minutes, 29 seconds.
But none of that is going to make Jeffery feel better. When the receiver walked off the field, he was met on the sideline and comforted by coach Doug Pederson.
After the game, Pederson said he told Jeffery that he’s too good of a player to allow the drop to define him.
“Don’t let one play define you. It’s not who he is, he’s too good of a player.”
Eagles head coach Doug Pederson reveals what he said to Alshon Jeffery after his drop on the team’s final drive. pic.twitter.com/6r0vq5Ccus
— CBS Sports HQ (@CBSSportsHQ) January 14, 2019
“It’s really hard, because he’s so down,” Pederson said. “But for me, it’s about staying positive. Listen, he’s made many, many big catches for us this season and he will continue to do that. I just told him he has to keep his head up and ‘don’t let one play define you.’ It’s not who he is. He’s too good of a player. He’ll embrace it and he’ll be better for it, but I told him to keep his head up and keep plowing.”
Foles also consoled Jeffery on the sideline.
The ball slipped through Alshon Jeffrey’s hands, became an INT and QB Nick Foles immediately found him. What did Foles say? “He told me he loved playing w/ me and we wouldn’t have won a Super Bowl w/out me,” Jeffrey said. “Still, I let the city of Philadelphia down.”
— Aditi Kinkhabwala (@AKinkhabwala) January 14, 2019
Jeffery finished the game with a team-leading 63 receiving yards on five receptions. But unfortunately for the receiver, his day will be remembered for the only drop he’s ever had in the playoffs.
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