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Atlanta’s season comes to end on final drive

PHILADELPHIA – Two yards.

That’s how close the Falcons came to returning to the NFC title game. But it wasn’t meant to be, as Matt Ryan’s pass on fourth-and-goal from the 2-yard line sailed high through Julio Jones’ hands in the right corner of the end zone.

The Eagles took over and ran out the clock to win 15-10. Philadelphia, the top seed in the NFC, advances and will host the winner of the Saints-Vikings game Sunday in Minneapolis. The sixth-seeded Falcons finish the year with an 11-7 record.

‘Right players in mind’ on fourth-down call

On a fourth-and-2 call with just over a minute remaining in a 10-15 divisional round game against the Eagles the Falcons called a play for their two best players: Matt Ryan and Julio Jones.

Unfortunately for Atlanta, the play was unsuccessful. But head coach Dan Quinn did not regret the choice to put the game in the hands of his top playmakers.

“Damn right,” Quinn said after the game when asked if he felt confident in Ryan on that fourth down. “Yeah, absolutely. We’re giving our shots to Matt and Julio to go for it to win the game. We didn’t get the job done, but 100 out of 100 we’re going to try to put the ball in those two guys’ hands to try to go win it.”

It appeared as though Jones was running a comeback route to the right sideline, but he slipped coming out of his break, leaving Ryan to look for a second option.

“It just didn’t work out,” Ryan said of the final play during his post-game press conference, “and that’s disappointing. That’s the life that you kind of live as a competitor. When you get in those situations, you want the ball in your hands. We’re disappointed that we didn’t make the play, but I thought it was a good call. It felt like we had the right players in mind at the right time, and we just fell a little bit short.”

Tough sledding on first down for the Falcons

In the second half, the Falcons had a tough time getting ahead in down and distance. Atlanta ran 11…

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