PHILADELPHIA (AP) — There was a missed field goal, a dropped pass and a poor kickoff.
The worst-to-first Philadelphia Eagles can point to several different plays as the difference in their 26-24 loss to the New Orleans Saints in an NFC wild-card playoff game Saturday night.
While the Saints (12-5) head to Seattle after the franchise's first playoff victory on the road, the Eagles (10-7) head home after an abrupt end to a surprising season. No one outside the organization expected rookie coach Chip Kelly to turn a 4-12 team into a playoff participant so quickly.
That's no consolation right now.
"What's there to be proud of? Getting here isn't good enough," NFL rushing champion LeSean McCoy said.
Nick Foles outplayed Drew Brees, but the Saints beat the Eagles on the ground. Mark Ingram, filling in for leading rusher Pierre Thomas, ran for 97 yards and the Saints had their second-highest total of the season with 185 yards rushing.
"I made the calls for the passing game to keep the big plays off us and some of the runs leaked out," defensive coordinator Bill Davis said. "I could've called more run calls. That's on me."
On the other side, New Orleans' defense held McCoy to only 77 yards on 21 carries.
"They did a really good job running the ball against us, which is uncharacteristic for us, and we didn't execute," Kelly said.
After a slow start for both offenses, Brees helped the Saints take a 20-7 lead in the third quarter. But Foles rallied the Eagles to a 24-23 lead following a 3-yard touchdown pass to Zach Ertz with 4:54 left.
Then, Darren Sproles returned Alex Henery's line-drive kickoff to the 37 and a penalty on Cary Williams for a horse-collar tackle gave the Saints the ball at the Eagles 48. Brees only threw one pass as the Saints ran the ball to set up Shayne Graham's 32-yard field goal to win it at the end.
"The kickoff obviously hurt us and it gave them a short field. We didn't hit the ball good enough on kickoffs all day," Kelly said.
Henery also missed a 48-yard field goal in the second quarter that was costly. Before that miss, however, Foles took a sack that pushed Henery's field goal try back 11 yards.
"It was a bad decision by me," Foles said. "I definitely should've thrown it away."
Riley Cooper dropped a wide-open pass on third-and-4 that would've gone for a long gain in the third quarter, and the Eagles' high-flying offense seemed out of sync most of the night.
"We didn't play well enough to win. That's all of us," Kelly said.
Still, they had a chance to win after Foles threw his second TD pass, but the defense couldn't hold at the end.
Brees finished 20 of 30 for 250 yards, one TD and two interceptions. Jimmy Graham was held to only three catches for 44 yards. But Ingram, Sproles and Khiry Robinson did the job running the ball.
"They ran a lot more, and they're a passing team, which is what we were worried about," Eagles linebacker Brandon Graham said. "We knew they were going to run it here and there, but we definitely didn't think they were going to run it as much as they did."
Foles threw for 195 yards and the offense was held to just 256 total yards, the second-worst output of the year for the NFL's second-ranked offense.
"This doesn't feel good. We wanted to keep playing," Foles said. "It's tough to lose. It hurts. But we're going to keep building."
NOTES: Foles was 23 of 33 for 195 yards. ... Eagles TE Brent Celek injured his neck, but could have returned had the Eagles gotten the ball back late in the fourth quarter. ... New Orleans CB Keenan Lewis suffered a head injury in the third quarter and didn't return.
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