Eagles cornerback Jalen Mills was in coverage against Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones on the fourth-and-goal play from the 2-yard line in the NFC divisional playoff game.
The pass was incomplete and the Eagles went on to upset the Falcons 15-10 on Jan. 13. The Eagles advanced to the NFC title game and pummeled Minnesota 38-7 to advance to Super Bowl LII. They will play the Patriots on Sunday for the NFL championship.
Mills went back over the critical play on Wednesday.
“That was a play we practiced all week,” Mills told The Atlanta-Journal Constitution. “As soon as we got the motion, both of the safeties, Malcolm (Jenkins) and Rodney (McLeod) starting calling the play out. We communicated it to everybody. We treated it the same way that we do in practice.”
Jones fell to the ground and Mills said he was careful not to make contact. Any contact, he contended, was incidental or inadvertent.
Either way, he stayed in coverage with Jones, who popped back up and continued on his route.
“Matt (Ryan) is a guy who can make every throw on the field,” Mills said of the Falcons quarterback. “He still had the ball in his hands and he wasn’t on the ground yet. So, you have to know to stay focused regardless of what’s happening behind you.”
Mills saw Ryan launch the high pass to a leaping Jones.
“Play through the receiver’s hands,” Mills said when asked what he was thinking when he saw the ball go up in the air. “That’s what you are always taught. Try to make it tough for him to catch and that’s what I did.”