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Coach From The Couch: Divisional Round Review

Something tells me that the blood pressure in New Orleans is still pretty high after the Saints pulled away with a 20-14 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles. A match-up we knew that was most likely going to be down to the wire, this was by far the most exciting game of the playoffs. After going down 14-0 early, the Saints were able to take control and the defense stepped up in a big way. Credit has to go to the Eagles who struggled early on in the season and fought hard to get into the playoffs giving the Saints their all. In this article, we review the most crucial key moments of Sunday’s game.

Way Too Early

The Saints started the game with the ball first, just as we hoped they would. I mentioned in my pre-game that if we won the toss or got the ball first, we need to get the run game going early and control the clock to hopefully score and set the tone. However, they did the exact opposite of that. Sean Payton scripted a deep pass play that Drew Brees threw towards Ted Ginn Jr and was unfortunately intercepted by Cre’Von LeBlanc. Not the way you want to start the game off at all.

Why Did You Stop?!

The Eagles were able to take a 7-0 lead on a Jordan Matthews touchdown pass from Nick Foles. It was practically a cake walk because PJ Williams literally stopped running with the receiver. You should NEVER stop running on a play no matter what. But also, why was he looking back at the ball? Do not worry about that and focus on your man. If he continues on, who knows what may have happened.

Momentum Shifted

With the Eagles in the driver’s seat, the Saints defense needed to make a stop to change things around. Luckily, they achieved just what the doctor ordered. Marshon Lattimore makes a great read in coverage to follow Zach Ertz and goes up to get an interception. This is the point in the game where the momentum went directly over to the Saints sideline. But if you look closely, Ertz was kind of leaning forward before the snap and no flag was thrown. It all worked out in the Saints’ favor in the end.

Is this 2006?

On the first drive after halftime, the Saints took complete control by going on one of the longest drives in postseason history. Starting from their own 8 yard line, the offense was able to slowly move down the field even overcoming several penalties and converting on 2nd and 20 & 3rd and 16 downs both to Michael Thomas to get a touchdown to take the lead. This drive was very reminiscent of the 2006 regular season game against the Eagles in which the Saints drove down the field in 16 plays eating up the remaining 8:26 in the game and winning on a John Carney field goal.

Just Run The Ball Man!

The Saints pretty much had the game in their hands. They were in Eagles territory driving to at least attempt a field goal to extend their lead to two possession. Sadly, on 2nd down at the Philly 32, Payton chooses to call a pass play that got no gain at all, maybe a yard. Why not keep running in that situation? Alvin Kamara had a few good runs on the drive and maybe would have gotten more had a run play been called. Instead, he loses 3 yards on the next play making it a 52 yard attempt for Wil Lutz which he ends up missing. These guys really know how to keep you on edge.

What Happened To His Hands?!

The Eagles wasted no time trying to get the game winning score. Foles hit Ertz to get into Saints territory. The next play Vonn Bell makes a great timing play to force an incomplete pass but Marcus Davenport gets called for roughing the passer (seriously, this rule needs to change). The Eagles run the ball on their next play for no gain and then this is where things changed quickly. Instead of letting the clock run down to the 2-minute warning, Philly decides to get the play off right before it and it ultimately results in Alshon Jeffrey having the pass slip right through his hands and into those of Lattimore once again to essentially seal the game. Should have let it get there, Coach Pederson.

This game is the type of football you love to watch no matter the teams. The Who Dat Nation played their part and was loud throughout the whole game. Now the Saints will face off against the Los Angeles Rams in the NFC Championship Game. Just like the Eagles, I expect the Rams to do whatever it takes to win this game because the stakes are even higher. We will be ready and the Dome will be rocking so get your popcorn ready and prepare for a shootout. Who Dat!