Neal felt he should have made key interception


Keanu Neal was dejected.

The Falcons safety thought he should have had a key interception right before halftime against the Eagles of the NFC Divisional playoff game Saturday. 

On second-and-8 from Philadelphia’s 30-yard line, Eagles quarterback Nick Foles sailed a pass through the wind that Neal had a chance to intercept. However, the ball hit his knee and bounced back to wide receiver Torrey Smith, who turned it into a 20-yard gain with 12 second remaining.

The Eagles connected on a 15-yard pass to Alshon Jeffery with a second remaining and ended the half with a 53-yard field goal from Jake Elliott. The Falcons’ led was cut to 10-9 at halftime.

“I just didn’t feel it hit my hands and it bounced off of my knee,” Neal said. 

Overall, the defensive unit played well but the result was a 15-10 Eagles victory that eliminated the Falcons.

“We did well,” Neal said. “We just left some plays out there including the one that I missed, the opportunity that I had. That’s part of it. When your plays come, you’ve got to make them.”

Neal finished with six tackles, a tackle for a loss and a fumble recovery.

“It’s tough,” Neal said. “It never feels good to lose.”

Neal, who’s in his second season, made great strides along with the rest of the defense.

“For sure, we definitely came a long way,” Neal said. “We made huge strides. We have to just get ready for next year.”

The Falcons did a respectable job against the run in the game. 

Running back Jay Ajayi was held to 54 yards on 15 carries. He rushed for 130 yards on 26 carries against the Falcons when he was with the Dolphins during the regular season. He had a long run of 11 yards. LeGarrette Block was held to 19 yards on nine carries.

The Eagles biggest rushing play was an inside reverse to wide receiver Nelson Agholor, who picked up 21 yards. When the Eagles went back to that play, defensive tackle Dontari Poe stuffed it.

Overall, the Eagles rushed 32 times for 96 yards and one touchdown. Normally, that effort would have been enough for a victory.

Foles, who was 1-2 as a starter this season after replacing Carson Wentz, lead the Eagles on two field-goal drives in the second half to pull out the victory. Foles was 23 of 30 for 246 yards and finished with a passer rating of 100.1

“We just played our style of ball,” linebacker DeVondre Campbell said. “We didn’t do nothing special. We stuck to our principles and out techniques.”

Campbell also made strides in his second year with the team, but was taking the defeat hard.

 “It’s the nature of the business that we are in,” Campbell said. “Sometimes you do everything that you can and you still lose.”


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