If you thought Julio Jones could have secured the game-winning touchdown on fourth-and-goal with his Atlanta Falcons’ season on the line against the Philadelphia Eagles, you’re not alone: the wideout agrees with you.
“It was just a sprintout, a rollout to me,” Jones said. “Trying to take advantage of one-on-one [coverage] down there.
“I don’t know, but at the end of the day, I can make those plays. I ended up on the ground when I came out of my route. And that’s a tough call [for the official] to make during that situation in the game. That was it.”
Quarterback Matt Ryan also refused to throw officials under the bus for a collision Jones had sustained with cornerback Jalen Mills before the doomed pass attempt.
“That’s a play we practice all the time, and certainly in those situations you go to your best player,” Ryan said. “Obviously, roll to the right and have an opportunity to Julio. It just didn’t work out and that’s disappointing. That’s the life you live as a competitor—when you get in those situations, you want the ball in your hand. I think it was a right call. I think we had the right players in mind at the right time—and we just fell a little bit short.”
Unfortunately for the Falcons, the Eagles defense was well aware of the fact that Atlanta had run the play a lot in 2017. Philadelphia safeties Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney McLeod diagnosed the call at the line of scrimmage and told the rest of the Eagles defense what to expect.
“It was right hash. That’s kind of a lot of teams’ tendency, is to sprint out, and as soon as I saw the tight end come over I was like, ‘There it is.’ This is everything you dream of as a player,” McLeod said. “You do your study, you do your preparing, and they come out and run the identical play, and the guys did a good job of stopping it, man.”
That preparation ended up being the difference between an early vacation and a trip to the NFC Championship Game.
“They communicated all the way from [Ronald] Darby’s side to my side,” Mills said. “You can’t do nothing but be thankful for having those veteran safeties that are able to ID formations.”