The Philadelphia Eagles' hopes of repeating as Super Bowl champions ended after a heartbreaking 20-14 road loss to the top-seeded New Orleans Saints on Sunday.
Philly looked poised to take the lead with less than two minutes left, driving down to the Saints 27-yard line. On second down, Nick Foles found an open Alshon Jeffery on a slant, but the ball went through his hands and was picked off by New Orleans corner Marshon Lattimore.
The Saints would run the clock out and advance to the NFC Championship Game, while Jeffery and the Eagles lost in a close and thrilling contest. Thus, their chances of becoming the first team to repeat as Super Bowl champions in 14 years came to an abrupt end.
After the game, Jeffery owned up to his mistake like a true professional, but also had an epic response that should excite Eagles fans: This one mistake isn't going to define the rest of his career.
"I let my teammates down," Jeffery said after the game, via Kevin Patra of NFL.com. "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. I mean, all of the greats, they have missed game-winning shots. ... So it happens. It's part of football. I just hated the way it happened in the playoffs and it was the final moment."
Jeffery finished the game with five catches for 63 yards, leading the Eagles in receiving on the day. The whole loss can't be pinpointed on Jeffery, as the Philly defense failed to make the key stops after jumping out to a 14-0 lead.
And if Jeffery had caught the pass, it would have likely only brought up a third down play, so there's no guarantee the Eagles get into the end zone. At the end of the day, the Eagles lost as a team, so the finger cannot be pointed solely at Jeffery.
The Eagles stood at 6-7 but rallied to win three straight games, punching a ticket to the postseason. After upsetting the Chicago Bears in the Wild Card Round last week, they nearly upset the top-seeded Saints. There is nothing to be ashamed of.
What This Means
Jeffery and the Eagles came closer to defending their Super Bowl championship than many other teams have over the past decade. It was a season full of ups and downs, and they were just a play or two away from another appearance in the NFC Championship Game. This team can only keep their heads up and look forward to a promising 2019 season.