When the Eagles lined up for a crucial 4th-and-1 in the final moments of the fourth quarter, Nelson Agholor hadn’t caught a pass since the fourth quarter of the Cowboys game, and he hadn’t even been targeted since the fourth quarter of the Saints game.
One thing the Golden Tate acquisition has done is cut deeply into Agholor’s playing time and production.
But when Carson Wentz absolutely had to complete a pass?
He locked in on Agholor and delivered the football without hesitation.
And Agholor, two weeks after his last reception, was ready.
It felt good, man. Got to be real about it, it felt good, especially in that situation. Move the chains. Because everything you want to do as a receiver is toward a 'W.' Even if you catch 10 balls, if you lose it sucks, so to make a play that moves the chains and helps us get a win and keep our season alive, it means a lot.
It’s no secret that Tate’s presence has hurt Agholor. The last two weeks, Tate has been targeted 16 times and Agholor three times.
But Agholor deserves a ton of credit for being ready when his number was dialed up.
“He was ready to go,” Wentz said. “He’s always ready to go.”
The Eagles and Giants were tied at 22 late with 2:39 left in the game when they faced a 4th-and-1 on the Giants’ 42-yard line.
Doug Pederson didn’t hesitate to go for it, even though the Eagles would have given the Giants a short field if they failed on fourth down.
“At that point, I was going to win the game,” Pederson said.
It was a throwback to last year when Pederson went for it on fourth down constantly.
And it was a throwback to last year because it worked.
Pederson called one of the most reliable plays in his playbook, the same one he called on 4th-and-1 near midfield with the Eagles trailing the Patriots 33-32 in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl, Nick Foles' first-down pass to Zach Ertz.
The play seems to work.
“Nelson’s catch on fourth down was probably the most important play in the game,” Ertz said. “He didn’t get a ton of targets, but to have the confidence to go to him on fourth down in the fourth quarter is exactly the type of confidence we have in him.”
Alshon Jeffery lined up wide right and Tate wide left and they both ran crossing routes toward the middle of the field just past the sticks, drawing linebackers Ogletree and Davis down in coverage and leaving the middle of the field open.
Agholor lined up in the left slot and ran to the 34-yard line halfway between the hash marks, and Wentz got great protection and fired.
Agholor caught the ball cleanly and turned and ran a few more yards down to the 30, and four plays later Jake Elliott booted his third field goal of the game, and the Eagles had a 25-22 win.
“It’s a play that’s got answers for every coverage,” Ertz said. “It’s got an answer for man, it’s got an answer for zone. They gave us zone coverage, and often in zone, the middle of the field splits because you’ve got two guys running underneath and the linebackers really can’t help themselves.
“The play’s designed for man coverage, but it’s a great zone play, too, and Carson had all the confidence in the world to go to Nelson in that spot. Huge play in the game.”
It was the Eagles’ biggest fourth-quarter fourth-down conversion since Foles’ unforgettable two-yard pass to Ertz near midfield in the Super Bowl. And it was virtually the same play.
We love Nelly and we love what he brings to the table,” Wentz said. “I didn’t even realize that he hadn’t specifically gotten a target until late today. That’s just the way it’s been playing out. But there he was and he made arguably the biggest play of the day.
It was Agholor’s only catch of the game.
“I’m not going to lie to you, I wanted to score,” Agholor said. “Wish I had been able to get (the ball) in my left hand earlier and get a break on 31 (M. Thomas).”
It turned out OK, thanks to a receiver who had been forgotten for two weeks and a quarterback who finally looked his way with the season hanging in the balance.
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