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Second Quarter Recap: Eagles Lead, 7-6

Posted Jan 4, 2014

Following a sniffed-out tight end screen and a sack, the Eagles started the second quarter with a third-and-30 at the Saints’ 35-yard line. An inside handoff to running back LeSean McCoy gained five yards, and head coach Chip Kelly sent in kicker Alex Henery for a 48-yard field goal attempt. Henery’s kick had plenty of leg, but hooked wide left and missed. The Saints offense took over at its own 38-yard line.

Three straight runs, including a quarterback sneak by Drew Brees on third-and-1, netted 13 yards and a first down. The Saints continued to move the ball in methodical chunks, converting a third-and-3 on a pitch to running back Darren Sproles that gained 8 yards to the Eagles’ 23-yard line. An incompletion and then a short completion to running back Mark Ingram brought up a third-and-7. Brees completed a pass over the middle to tight end Jimmy Graham for a 7-yard gain. Linebacker DeMeco Ryans knocked the ball out of Graham’s hand as he stretched for the first down, and defensive lineman Fletcher Cox recovered. Upon review, however, it was determined that Graham’s knee was down prior to the ball being knocked out, and the Saints retained possession with a fourth-and-1 at the 14-yard line. The Saints lined up to go for it, and Brees converted on the sneak, but the play was whistled dead for a false start on tight end Benjamin Watson. Head coach Sean Payton opted for a field goal, which kicker Shayne Graham nailed from 36 yards out to give the Saints a 3-0 lead.

The Eagles started their next possession at their own 22-yard line following a 23-yard return by wide receiver Brad Smith. The first down play was a handoff to McCoy, who bounced outside before being run out of bounds for just a 1-yard gain. Quarterback Nick Foles completed a 6-yard pass to wide receiver Jason Avant on second down to bring up third-and-3. Foles had time and sat back in the pocket, eventually firing a ball down the seam intended for tight end Brent Celek, who was tightly covered. The ball was knocked away by safety Roman Harper and brought up fourth down. The Eagles punted, with Donnie Jones’ punting to the Saints’ 18-yard line. Sproles returned the punt 14 yards to the 32-yard line.

Brees led the offense back on the field, looking to build upon the 3-0 lead. He started the drive with a 10-yard completion to wide receiver Marques Colston. A 4-yard run by Ingram followed, then a Brees’ scramble for 5 yards to bring up third-and-1. Running back Khiry Robinson got the handoff and ran off tackle 5 yards for another first down. Ingram got the handoff on first-and-10 and plowed ahead for 3 yards. On second-and-7, though, Brees was intercepted by Ryans on a pass over the middle intended for wide receiver Lance Moore. Ryans returned the interception 23 yards to the Saints’ 44-yard line.

On first down, Foles fired a strike over the middle to wide receiver Riley Cooper for 22 yards, down to the Saints’ 22-yard line. Then came a short pass to tight end Zach Ertz for 4 yards and a run by McCoy for 7 yards and a first down to the 11-yard line. A short completion to Avant for 1-yard was followed by an incompletion to Ertz in the back of the end zone. On third-and-9, Foles had all day in the pocket before finally finding Cooper, who leaped and snagged the ball for a 10-yard touchdown. Henery kicked the extra point to put the Eagles ahead, 7-3.

Sproles returned the ensuing kickoff 21 yards to the Saints’ 25-yard line. Brees found Graham near the sidelines for a 17-yard gain to the 42-yard line. Sproles took the handoff and sped up the middle for 13 yards and into Eagles’ territory. On first-and-10 from the Eagles’ 45-yard line, Brees was sacked by linebacker Brandon Graham for a 1-yard loss. On second-and-11, Brees looked for Sproles on a screen, but the latter was held by Cox and a penalty was called to give the Saints a first down. A 13-yard completion to wide receiver Kenny Stills followed, and then on first down Brees lofted a pass down to the seam intended for Graham at the goal line, but safety Nate Allen jumped and knocked the ball away. After a pass was deflected by linebacker Connor Barwin and fell incomplete on second down, on third-and-10, Brees could not find any open receivers and was sacked for no gain by linebacker Trent Cole at the 28-yard line. The Saints waited until there was 0:03 remaining on the clock before calling timeout and sending out Shayne Graham for a field goal. Graham connected from 45 yards out as time expired to make the score 7-6 going into halftime.

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