The Eagles got the first punch in.
And for once, Nick Foles didn’t finish it.
The Saints advanced to next week’s NFC Championship Game against the Rams with a 20-14 win over the Eagles Sunday, overcoming an early 14-0 deficit, and needing an interception late to seal it.
It was a shaky start for the Saints, but a bold fake punt call in the second quarter, an odyssey of a touchdown drive in the third quarter, and the sustained brilliance of wide receiver Michael Thomas carried the day.
Thomas finished with 12 catches for 171 yards and a touchdown, and was the guy Drew Brees was always looking for in key situations. He scored the go-ahead touchdown in the third quarter to cap an 18-play, 92-yard, 11 minute and 29-second drive.
At that point, the Eagles defense looked gassed, and even with defensive tackle Fletcher Cox coming back from a foot injuring and creating consistent pressure, they were short-handed against an offense with so many weapons.
But with all the good work the Saints did, Foles still had a chance at a game-winning drive, and you generally like his chances in that situation. But his pass just before the two-minute warning was picked off by Saints cornerback Marshon Lattimore (his second of the day), allowing the Saints to ice it. The ball went through the hands of wide receiver Alshon Jeffery, underscoring how close the Eagles were to making the kind of comeback Foles has become known for.
It keeps the Saints perfect in their own building in the postseason under coach Sean Payton, with a chance to extend the streak next week.
They beat the Rams 45-35 at the Superdome in Week Nine, and the expectation will be that two dynamic offenses will provide quite an encore, with a berth in the Super Bowl on the line.