This was not the way that the Eagles wanted to ring in the New Year.
The offense without Jalen Hurts and Lane Johnson struggled mightily and the Saints made enough big plays to beat the Eagles 20-10 on Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field.
What does this mean? The Eagles (13-3), who now have lost two straight games, must beat the New York Giants in Week 18 (date and time still TBA) to clinch the NFC East division title and the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs.
The Saints extended their win streak to three games in the hope of keeping their slim playoff hopes alive by keeping the league's top-scoring offense in check. The Eagles did not get a first down until just before halftime. Quarterback Gardner Minshew was 18-of-32 for 274 yards. He was sacked six times in the game. The Eagles had life after a 78-yard touchdown pass from Minshew to A.J. Brown at the end of the third quarter to cut New Orleans' lead to 13-10. But cornerback Marshon Lattimore returned a Minshew interception 12 yards for a pick-six in the fourth quarter to put the game away.
Running back Miles Sanders gained 61 yards on 12 carries. Brown had four catches for 97 yards and the touchdown. DeVonta Smith led the way with nine catches for 115 yards.
For the Saints, quarterback Andy Dalton was 18-of-22 for 204 yards with an interception. The Saints kept the Eagles off-balance on the opening drive of the game by mixing in direct snaps to Taysom Hill and Alvin Kamara. The Saints milked nearly nine minutes off the clock on a 15-play, 75-yard touchdown drive and never trailed. Hill threw two passes for 24 yards, rushed for 46 yards and a touchdown, and caught a pass for 9 yards. Running back Alvin Kamara gained 74 yards on the ground and 7 receiving. Wide receiver Rashid Shaheed led the Saints with 79 receiving yards on six receptions.
Defensive end Brandon Graham eclipsed the double-digit mark in sacks for the first time in his career with two on the day to get to a career-high 11 for the year. Haason Reddick notched two sacks of his own to reach 16 for the season. The defense tallied seven sacks and cornerback Josiah Scott recorded the interception.
Here's how the game unfolded in real time:
• The Eagles won the toss and elected to defer to the second half. The Saints open the game on offense. It didn't take long to see Taysom Hill take a direct snap at quarterback. Linebacker T.J. Edwards snuffed out the play and stopped Hill for no gain. However, on 3rd-and-4, quarterback Andy Dalton hit tight end Juwan Johnson underneath for 10 yards and a first down. The Saints converted another 3rd-and-4 with Dalton connecting with wide receiver Chris Olave out of the slot on a slant for 8 yards to the Eagles' 28. On a 3rd-and-1 at the Eagles' 19, fullback Adam Prentice gained 2 yards on a run, but more importantly, defensive end Josh Sweat was down after helping make the tackle. Sweat was carted off the field with 9:19 remaining in the first quarter. The entire Eagles sideline came over to the cart and the sold-out crowd at Lincoln Financial Field chanted Sweat's name while giving the young Pro Bowl pass rusher a standing ovation.
When play resumed, Kamara took a direct snap and ran for a 4-yard gain. On 2nd down, linebacker Patrick Johnson did a great job taking away Dalton's option in the flat, tight end Adam Trautman, plus center Erik McCoy was flagged for being an illegal man downfield. On 3rd-and-3 from the 11, Hill took the direct snap and was stopped for just 1 yard, but Hill got the ball again on 4th down and gained 8 yards on the ground to the 2 to set up goal-to-go. Hill punched the ball in on the next play to give the Saints the early lead.
it was a 15-play, 75-yard drive that nearly ate up nine minutes. Remember, Hill did not play when these two teams met last season at Lincoln Financial Field, a game won handily by the Eagles, 40-29.
SAINTS 7, EAGLES 0 – 6:02 remaining
• First offensive play for the Eagles and Saints linebacker Kaden Elliss blitzes and gets home for a sack of Gardner Minshew and a loss of 6 yards. Minshew was sacked again on the second offensive play by defensive end Carl Granderson as the quarterback scrambled to his left to escape pressure. It was a quick three-and-out by the Eagles' offense.
• Josh Sweat Update: Sweat has been transported to a local hospital with a neck injury for precautionary reasons. He has movement in all extremities.
• The Saints continue to convert 3rd-down opportunities. First, wide receiver Rashid Shaheed caught a 9-yard pass on a quick out route in front of safety Marcus Epps. Then, Hill took a direct snap for a 3-yard gain on 3rd-and-1 from the Eagles' 47. The quarter ended with a sack of Dalton by Javon Hargrave for a 5-yard loss. Saints will start with the ball at the Eagles' 49-yard line.
• The Eagles end the drive in perfect fashion. Brandon Graham sacked Dalton for his 10th sack of the season. It's the first time that he reached double-digits in his career. He is the fourth Eagle to reach double-digit sacks this season – Haason Reddick, Javon Hargrave, and Josh Sweat. It's the first time in NFL history that four individual players from the same team had double-digit sacks in a season. That sack also set the team's single-season franchise record with 63, surpassing the mark of 62 set by the 1989 Buddy Ryan squad.
• Another three-and-out for the offense. Miles Sanders gained 9 yards and two carries. But on 3rd-and-1, Minshew scrambled and was sacked for no gain by defensive end Cameron Jordan.
• Saints injury update: tackle Ryan Ramczyk is questionable to return with a hip injury.
• The challenge with Hill is that he'll deal as a quarterback as well. On the first snap of the drive, Hill took the snap out of shotgun and drilled a bullet to Johnson for 17 yards to the Eagles' 41-yard line. The Eagles' pass rush drew a holding penalty on offensive lineman Landon Young to set the Saints back to their 49. The Saints eventually settled for a 54-yard field goal by Wil Lutz.
SAINTS 10, EAGLES 0 – 8:30 remaining
• The Saints' pass rush has been suffocating. Granderson notched his second sack of the game to set up 3rd-and-16, after which Minshew checked the ball to Kenneth Gainwell short of the first down. Three drives. Three three-and-outs.
• On 3rd-and-4, Shaheed beat James Bradberry for 58 yards on a slant-and-go route down the right sideline with an over-the-shoulder throw from Dalton to the Eagles' 6-yard line. On 3rd-and-goal from the 1, Hill took the direct snap out of the shotgun and tried to run it to the right side and was engulfed by a sea of midnight green led by Edwards and Hargrave. Saints settle for a 20-yard Lutz field goal.
SAINTS 13, EAGLES 0 – 3:05 remaining
• A fourth three-and-out for the offense. An A.J. Brown slant gained 7 yards but Minshew's deep pass down the right side for DeVonta Smith on 3rd-and-3 fell incomplete.
• After a Haason Reddick sack for a 5-yard loss, cornerback Josiah Scott provides a spark with an interception of a Dalton pass intended for Olave along the right sideline. Scott returned the ball 13 yards to the Eagles' 25-yard line with 34 seconds left in the half.
• Jordan sacked Minshew for the second time and the team's fifth overall in the first half on the first play. Eagles take a timeout with 26 seconds left. The Eagles get their first first down with 11 seconds left in the half. Minshew connected with Brown on an 8-yard pass then on 3rd-and-7 he hit Dallas Goedert for a 12-yard gain. The half ended with a quick pass to the outside to DeVonta Smith, which he ran to the Saints' 35-yard line for a gain of 25 yards. Eagles will get the ball first to start the second half.
• The Eagles start at their own 9 following a holding penalty by linebacker Kyron Johnson on the kickoff to start the second half. The Eagles feed running back Miles Sanders, who gets 9 yards then 14 yards on consecutive plays. Minshew hits Goedert for an 18-yard gain to midfield. Two plays later, Minshew hit DeVonta Smith on a wide receiver screen for a 15-yard gain to the Saints' 34-yard line. Boston Scott gains 8 yards on a run off the left tackle to set up 2nd-and-2. After a Scott loss of 2 yards, it looked like Kenneth Gainwell busted a 28-yard touchdown run keyed by a pancake block by left guard Landon Dickerson, but the Eagles were called for holding – the penalty was attributed to Dickerson, but it appeared to be on tackle Jordan Mailata. The Eagles got on the board with a 56-yard Jake Elliott field goal.
• The field goal is Elliott's longest of the season and he is now 3-of-4 from 50+.
SAINTS 13, EAGLES 3 – 10:58 remaining
• The defense gets a three-and-out to get the ball back to the offense. Safety K'Von Wallace breaks up the pass intended for Johnson on third down to aid the defense.
• Sanders gets the offense rolling. Four carries by Sanders gains 9 yards, 4 yards, 6 yards, and 2 yards. On 3rd-and-2, Dickerson commits a false start penalty. That's followed by a false start penalty on Jason Kelce. On 3rd-and-12, Minshew is drilled by Granderson as he throws the ball and Smith makes an amazing grab despite coverage by cornerback Marshon Lattimore at the sticks for the first down. Facing a 3rd-and-8, Isaac Seumalo committed the offensive line's third false start penalty of the drive. Minshew's third-down pass to Smith was high and incomplete. Saints take over at their own 40.
• Kamara gains 15 yards down the left sideline on a first-down run. But that was negated by a Fletcher Cox sack two plays later for a loss of 12 yards. On 3rd-and-20, Dalton throws a quick pass to Eno Benjamin for a 9-yard gain, but the Saints are forced to punt the ball away. Eagles take over at their own 4 with 2:14 left in the quarter.
• Throwing from out of the end zone, Minshew hits Smith for 12 yards on an out route then 6 yards to Smith on a slant route to open the drive. THEN THE BIG PLAY BY A.J. BROWN FOR THE TOUCHDOWN. Brown beat Paulson Adebo on an out and up, caught the ball at midfield along the right sideline, and then Daniel Sorenson missed the chance to corner Brown and the wide receiver was off for the 78-yard touchdown!
SAINTS 13, EAGLES 10 – 0:45 remaining
• The third quarter ends with a 16-yard pass on a crossing route to Trautman and a 7-yard run by Kamara to the Saints' 48-yard line.
• The defense shored up by rallying around to stop Hill on a direct snap then Graham notched his second sack of the day to force the punt.
• First play of the drive, Minshew hits Goedert for 15 yards. On the next play, Minshew hit Boston Scott in the flat to the left side for what appeared to be a gain of 22 yards. but Kelce was called for being an illegal man downfield. On 3rd-and-15, Minshew tried to fit in a back-shoulder throw to Brown along the left sideline, but it was incomplete.
• Saints take over with 12:03 remaining at their own 32. Ramczyk was downgraded to out for the Saints with the hip injury. Reddick notches his second sack of the day for a loss of 8 yards to set up 3rd-and-18. McCoy, the center, false starts on third down to make it 3rd-and-23. The Saints call a draw on third down and the Eagles will get the ball back.
• Eagles take over at their own 41 with 10:01 remaining. After a 1-yard gain by Sanders, Minshew connected with Smith on a 5-yard pass. On third down, Sanders set up a fourth-and-1 at midfield. The Eagles tried to sneak it with Minshew, but he was denied. Saints take over with 8:32 remaining.
• A failed flea-flicker! The Eagles try it with Hill at quarterback, but the receiving options were dried up and Milton Williams and Ndamukong Suh come up with the sack! Two plays later on 3rd-and-17, Dalton is pressured by Cox and has to throw it away. Eagles get the ball back at their own 9-yard line with 6:07 left.
• Marshon Lattimore pick-six. The cornerback beats A.J. Brown on the short pass and returns the interception 12 yards for the touchdown.
SAINTS 20, EAGLES 10 – 5:27 remaining
• On 3rd-and-10, needing to move the ball, Minshew hit Smith over the middle for 28 yards, but on the next play Minshew was sacked for the sixth time of the afternoon, this time by Jordan. On 3rd-and-17, Minshew's pass for Goedert was nearly picked off by Paulson Adebo. On fourth down, Jack Driscoll commits the false start. Minshew's pass for Smith on fourth down is way short of the sticks. Saints take over with 3:35 left.
• The Saints ran out the clock to end the game.