Eagles

‘Like a cannon,’ Jake Elliott sets Eagles franchise record with walk-off FG

‘Like a cannon,’ Jake Elliott sets Eagles franchise record with walk-off FG

Carson Wentz was praying. 

Malcolm Jenkins was keeping an eye on Odell Beckham Jr., worried about the prospect of the superstar getting his hands on the football one last time with offensive linemen trying to tackle him. 

And Donnie Jones, the veteran punter and field goal holder, was on the sideline lobbying head coach Doug Pederson and special teams coordinator Dave Fipp to let them try. 

"I went over and said 'Let's go," Jones recalled. "We can win this thing. I said let's kick this bleep-bleeper and win this game."

A couple minutes later, rookie kicker Jake Elliott exited the field at the Linc in style, hoisted up on the shoulders of Mychal Kendricks and Kamu Grugier-Hill. 

That's the kind of treatment you get when you drill a 61-yard, game-winning field goal.  

"Jake came up and I saw it in his eyes," Jones said. "I knew. I knew he was ready to go out and execute and he did."  

Elliott, whom the Eagles signed before last week's game against the Chiefs after Caleb Sturgis went down with an injury, drilled his 61-yard attempt to give the Eagles a 27-24 win over the Giants on Sunday afternoon (see breakdown). It was a crazy end to a crazy game. 

"It's kind of a blur to me," Elliott said. "I don't really know. All I know is that the ball was in the air for a really long time and [it was] real close to that right upright." 

The Eagles led by 14 until the fourth, then gave up the lead, then found a way to tie it. The 61-yard walk-off was fitting. 

"We knew Jake had pretty good range," Wentz said. "I wasn't sure 61 is doable. You never really think that. But we had a lot of faith in him. I had a lot of faith in him and he got it done." 

The 61-yarder was the longest field goal in franchise history, surpassing Tony Franklin's 59-yard field goal in 1979. It was the longest field goal in the NFL since Matt Prater's 64-yarder in 2013. And there have been just six longer field goals in NFL history (see observations)

All this for a guy who missed a 30-yard chip shot last week. 

"You have to be mentally strong as punters and kickers because bad things happen," Jones said. "It's how you bounce back from that and respond. That's what really makes you the player you are." 

To set up the game-winning kick, the offense first had to get into position. After a poor punt from the Giants, the Eagles got the ball at their 38-yard line with 13 seconds left. The first pass went incomplete and drained six seconds. The next pass was a 19-yard gain to Alshon Jeffery on the sideline. 

It left the Eagles with one second. 

"We only had seven seconds," head coach Doug Pederson said. "So we have calculated in a sideline throw can take anywhere from five to six, and we were right on that mark today.

"It was pretty awesome. It sounded like a cannon off his foot. Great snap, great hold. The protection was there. Awesome.”

The only reason Elliott is even on the Eagles is because Sturgis was placed on injured reserve with a hip injury suffered in the opener. The Eagles worked out a trio of kickers but instead elected to sign Elliott off the Bengals' practice squad. 

The Bengals used a fifth-round pick on Elliott this year. But the Memphis product lost the Cincinnati job to veteran Randy Bullock and was put on the team's practice squad.

While Elliott looked a little shaky in his preseason with the Bengals and even missed his first field goal attempt Sunday, his leg strength has never really been questioned. At Memphis, he made more 50-yarders (10) from 2013-16 than anyone else in the college ranks. 

The longest kick he's ever made came in college, a 56-yarder. In warmups, Elliott said he usually tries "50, 56, maybe 57 and call it a day from there."

Still ... 61 yards? 

It was something special. 

Jones called Sunday the best team win he had ever been a part of. Jenkins said the game was one of the most memorable of his career. Even Jason Peters said this game and the Miracles at the Meadowlands "almost rate the same." There was certainly plenty of drama. 

The idea to carry Elliott off the field on Sunday was actually Najee Goode's. But after the game, he was nowhere to be found. That's when Kendricks stepped in and joined Grugier-Hill to hoist the 167-pound kicker and carry him into the tunnel. 

"I'll take it," Kendricks said. "It was fun. It was cool, man." 

After the kick went through, the capacity crowd of 69,596 erupted and there was chaos on the field. Elliott was at the center of it as the hero of the day (see rookie report)

"It was awesome," Elliott said. "I was just kind of running around, trying not to get hurt." 

What you need to know for Eagles-Vikings tailgate

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What you need to know for Eagles-Vikings tailgate

Several parking lots outside the Linc will open as early as 11:30 a.m. Sunday for fans who require extra time preparing for kickoff for the NFC Championship Game.

The Wells Fargo Center lots as well as the M and N lots — located just east of the stadium — and the P lot, next to Citizens Bank Park, are scheduled to open at 11:30 a.m., the Eagles announced.

The Linc's K lot, just north of the stadium, will open at 1 p.m.

The Citizens Bank Park lots are scheduled to open at 3 p.m.

Gates to the Head House Plaza open at 3:30 p.m. and the inner gates to the stadium open at 4:30 p.m. Located on the north end of the stadium, The Head House Plaza offers outdoor bars, food stands, live music and numerous other pregame activities for fans arriving early. It also includes an entrance to the Eagles Pro Shop.

The Eagles and Vikings kick off the NFC Championship Game at 6:40 p.m.

Eagles-Vikings NFC Championship Game predictions

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Eagles-Vikings NFC Championship Game predictions

Another week, another game with the Eagles being the underdog.

After a dominant defensive performance in a 15-10 win over the Falcons in the divisional round, the Eagles will welcome the No. 2 seed Vikings to the Linc for the NFC Championship Game (6:40 p.m. on FOX).

Despite the Eagles being the No. 1 seed and having home-field advantage, Minnesota is the favorite to advance and play the Super Bowl on their home field in Minneapolis.

Our analysts all had the Birds winning last week. This week, we’ll see who has the Eagles advancing to Super Bowl LII.

Reuben Frank (15-2)
Two great defenses blah blah blah. Underdogs blah blah blah. Carson Wentz got hurt blah blah blah. Forget all the storylines you've heard this week, and say these 16 words out loud with me: "Case Keenum is not going to come into the Linc and win the NFC Championship Game." OK, LOUDER: "CASE KEENUM IS NOT GOING TO COME INTO THE LINC AND WIN THE NFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME." Maybe I'd feel differently if the Vikings were home or if a future Hall of Famer like Drew Brees were coming to town, but you're talking about a relatively inexperienced quarterback who plays his home games in a dome coming into South Philadelphia and dealing with crowd noise, changing weather, a hostile environment and a ferocious defense that's allowed five touchdowns and 9.2 points per game in its last six home games. I don't think Case Keenum can handle what he's about to face Sunday afternoon. I think we're all headed to Minneapolis. 

Eagles 18, Vikings 9

Dave Zangaro (14-3)
I never thought this day would come, if I'm being honest. If you told me in the summer the Eagles were going to be in the NFC Championship Game, I wouldn't have believed you. 

If you would have told me they were going to be in the NFC Championship Game without Carson Wentz, Jason Peters, Jordan Hicks, Darren Sproles, Chris Maragos and Caleb Sturgis, I would have told you that you were crazy. 

Now, I'm the crazy one. Because despite all of that and despite the Eagles' technically being the underdogs in this game, I think they're going to win it. 

Had the Saints won last Sunday, I probably wouldn't think that. The thought of Drew Brees coming to town would have been enough for me to pick against the Birds. But then the Minnesota Miracle happened and as great as it was for the Vikings, it could end up being great for the Eagles too. 

Sure, the Vikings are a really good team and maybe they have the best statistical defense in the league and maybe Case Keenum will never come back to Earth. But the Eagles have a pretty good defense too, a good defense that's even better at home. Nick Foles doesn't need to be Carson Wentz, but he will need to make some big-time throws on Sunday; I think he does. I think the defense clamps down at home. I think this improbable run somehow keeps going. 

I think the Eagles are going to the Super Bowl. 

Eagles 18, Vikings 13

Derrick Gunn (14-3)
These two teams mirror each other so much. Both are guided by quarterbacks who were backups on their depth charts when this long journey began. Both have defenses that can clamp down on opposing offenses. Both with identical records. And both have never won a Super Bowl (Vikings 0-4, Eagles 0-2). 

For Nick Foles, it's imperative that he stays within himself. Stick to the short, high-percentage passing game and hopefully get some much needed help from the run game. 

Against the Falcons, the Eagles had 49 yards rushing in the opening quarter but only 47 the rest of the game against Atlanta's ninth-ranked run defense. 

Minnesota's defense is ranked No. 1 overall, No. 2 against the run, No. 2 against the pass and No. 1 in points allowed. 

The Eagles' defensive front has to get to Vikings QB Case Keenum before he can find Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs. Both are excellent route runners with exceptional hands. What a matchup up this is. Pat Shurmur's offense against Jim Schwartz's defense. 

I've gone back and forth all week on who will win this game in what could be your basic backyard brawl. So what I came up with is this: In the final seconds of the game, the Eagles will be down one point when Jake Elliott gets the call and nails a 50-yarder as time expires. Eagles win and dance their way to the Super Bowl.

Eagles 23, Vikings 21

Ray Didinger (15-2)
Offenses are scoring at a record pace and yardage totals keep mounting. The typical NFL Sunday is all about the point totals climbing and fantasy owners cashing in. But now we're in the post-season and this is when the defense flexes its muscles. This is when scores go down and hitting picks up.

When the Eagles and Vikings meet for the NFC championship, it will be all about defense. The Vikings allowed the fewest points (15.8 per game) and fewest yards (276 per game) during the regular season. The Eagles allowed the fewest yards rushing (79 per game) and allowed just 26 points in the last three games, including the 15-10 win over Atlanta in the divisional playoff.

The Vikings had the best defense in the league on third down allowing 25.2 per cent conversions. The Eagles defense was equally stingy at home (26.6 percent). The key to winning this game on the offensive side will be avoiding negative plays. A sack, a penalty, anything that creates a third-and-long situation will kill a drive. A five-yard run will be a big play in this game.

I think the Eagles pressure will eventually get to Vikings QB Case Keenum and that will be the difference.

Eagles 16, Vikings 13

Andrew Kulp (14-3)
The Vikings are a vastly better team than the Falcons in 2017-18, so I'm not sure I quite understand the confidence in the Eagles locally. Nonetheless, I tend to agree with the notion that it's hard to pick Keenum at Lincoln Financial Field in the NFC Championship.

Home-field has and will continue to be a big advantage for the Eagles. The crowd will rattle Keenum the way it did Matt Ryan last week, while simultaneously allowing Foles and the Birds offense to communicate protection calls against the Vikings' exotic pressure packages.

Compare the two rosters side by side, and they're relatively close in terms of talent. It's pretty much a coin flip. The fans are what move the needle here. Plus, the way this entire season has gone, how can anybody around here possibly pick against the Eagles?

Eagles 26, Vikings 17

Corey Seidman (12-4)
Equal QBs. Eagles have the run game advantage. Vikings have the better WR group. Eagles have the better TEs and offensive line. Vikings have the better secondary. 

This one feels like an extremely close game. But with homefield advantage and a better kicker, I’m 52 percent confident the Eagles pull it out and advance to the Super Bowl. 

(Wouldn’t it be the most Philly thing ever, though, if the Jaguars upset the Patriots, Eagles fans go crazy, and then the Birds lose?) 

Eagles 13, Vikings 10