The Philadelphia Eagles held their nerve to defeat the Atlanta Falcons 15-10 and advance to within one win of the Super Bowl on Saturday.
A first half touchdown from running back LeGarrette Blount and three field goals from rookie kicker Jake Elliott was enough to see the Eagles home on a frigid night at Lincoln Financial Field.
The top-seeded Eagles will face either the Minnesota Vikings or the New Orleans Saints in Philadelphia next weekend for a place in the February 4 Super Bowl.
The Falcons, desperate for a shot at redemption after losing last year's Super Bowl to the New England Patriots after leading 28-3, blew a late chance to take the lead as the Eagles held on.
The Falcons had a first and goal situation with less than two minutes to go, but quarterback Matt Ryan was unable to engineer the touchdown that would have given the Falcons a 16-10 lead.
Eagles quarterback Nick Foles -- who has struggled to convince since replacing injured star Carson Wentz -- finished the game with 246 passing yards, making 23 of 30 attempts.
Foles overcame a slow start to set up a touchdown for Blount from one yard on a brave fourth down play in the second quarter to give the Eagles a 6-3 lead.
Elliott missed the extra point when his kick cannoned back off the upright to groans from the home crowd.
The Falcons received a break when they recovered their own punt on the next possession to take over at the Phildelphia 18-yard line.
From there Ryan connected with Devonta Freeman with a deft six-yard touchdown pass.
Bryant's extra point put the Falcons into a 10-6 lead.
The Eagles, however, remained in touch thanks to a freakish play late in the second quarter, when Foles' pass ricocheted off Falcons safety Keanu Neal's knee and into the arms of Alshon Jeffery to put the hosts in field goal range.
With one second left on the clock, Elliott duly thumped over a 53-yarder to make it 10-9 at the break.
With the Eagles defense on top in the second half, Atlanta struggled to generate forward momentum.
Elliott kicked the Eagles into a 12-10 lead with 11 seconds left in the third quarter after successfully making a 37-yard field goal.
The Eagles then went 15-10 ahead with another Elliott field goal in the fourth, crucially taking nearly eight minutes off the clock with a 14-play, 80-yard drive.
Atlanta had one last crack and appeared to be threatening when Ryan found Julio Jones on fourth down and six to keep their last drive alive.
But on fourth and goal, Jones slipped and was unable to haul in Ryan's desperate pass, leaving the Eagles to run down the clock for the win.
© 2018 AFP