Saints win 20-10 in Philly, deny Eagles top spot in NFC

Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver A.J. Brown (11) pulls in a touchdown reception in the second half of an NFL football game against the New Orleans Saints in Philadelphia, Sunday, Jan. 1, 2023. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver A.J. Brown (11) pulls in a touchdown reception in the second half of an NFL football game against the New Orleans Saints in Philadelphia, Sunday, Jan. 1, 2023. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Marshon Lattimore returned an interception 11 yards for a late New Orleans touchdown, and the Philadelphia Eagles’ bid for the top seed in the NFC took a serious dent with a 20-10 loss to the Saints on Sunday.

Philly quarterback Jalen Hurts missed a second straight game with a sprained right shoulder, and the loss puts the Eagles (13-3) in precarious position: Still needing just one win to clinch the NFC East and the conference’s top seed, do they hurry back Hurts for the finale against the Giants?

The easy decision this week, of course, was to rest Hurts and have the franchise QB close to full strength for the playoffs. But everything Hurts helped build seems on the brink of unraveling with one game left in the season.

The Cowboys suddenly have a shot at the division crown.

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The Saints (7-9) won their third straight game as they remain in contention for a playoff spot down to the final weeks under first-year coach Dennis Allen. Taysom Hill had a 1-yard TD run in New Orleans’ surprising first half.

Andy Dalton, who threw for 204 yards, completed his first 13 passes, including a 58-yard reception by Rashid Shaheed. That play set up one of two field goals by Wil Lutz in the first half that gave the Saints a 13-0 lead.

Gardner Minshew had a pass intercepted by Lattimore late in the fourth that wrapped up a dreadful game for Hurts’ backup. Minshew was 18 of 32 passing for 274 yards, one touchdown and one interception in his second straight start and showed no signs he could ably lead the Eagles on a postseason run should Hurts get hurt again.

Minshew connected with A.J. Brown for a 78-yard touchdown late in the third that made it 13-10 and temporarily woke up the crowd — which had voraciously booed the Eagles most of the game — and an inept offense. But Minshew is no Hurts and he failed to convert on a fourth-down dive late in the fourth that cost his team as much as his late pick.

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Without their show-stopping QB, the Eagles were shut out in the first half for the first time this season.

The Eagles hadn’t allowed more than four sacks in a game this season but — playing without injured right tackle Lane Johnson — allowed five in the first half. The Eagles didn’t convert a first down until there were 12 seconds left in the half.

Even the play-calling was questionable. Instead of trying to help their backup QB by leaning a bit more on 1,000-yard rusher Miles Sanders, the Eagles gave him only two carries in the half.

Hurts seemingly solidified his MVP credentials by holding a clipboard. He most likely won’t win the award now, but the Eagles are significantly worse without the QB who tied a franchise record with 35 total touchdowns.

Eagles fans booed the team off the field and suddenly a team that expected to play two home games in the postseason is just trying get there with its confidence intact.

Jake Elliott kicked a 56-yard field goal for the Eagles.

Sack happy

The Eagles became the first team to have four players with 10-plus sacks in a single season (Haason Reddick, Josh Sweat, Javon Hargrave and Brandon Graham) since individual sacks were first recorded in 1982. The Eagles sacked Dalton seven times.

Injuries

Saints: OT Ryan Ramczyk suffered a hip injury.

Eagles: Sweat suffered a neck injury but had movement in all extremities after he was injured trying to make a tackle. The Eagles said Sweat was taken to a hospital as a precaution. Sweat, who has 11 sacks this season, pounded the ground with his hands before he was removed from the field on a stretcher in the first quarter.

Up next

The Saints finish at home against Carolina next Sunday.

The Eagles host the New York Giants next Sunday with the No. 1 seed at stake.

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