Mychal Kendricks will be the lone Cal representative in this upcoming weekend’s Conference Championship games when his Philadelphia Eagles host the Minnesota Vikings for the right to go to the Super Bowl. Kendricks and the Eagles booked their ticket to the NFC Championship game by defeating Alex Mack and the Atlanta Falcons 15-10 on a late-game goal line stand.
Kendricks made four tackles and also defended one pass, which was very nearly intercepted.
This is a great curl-flat drop in Cover 3 by @MychalKendricks vs. this “Spot”/“Snag” route concept. Watch him hold off the curl zone, instead of buzzing to the flat immediately. The result was a nice pass breakup. pic.twitter.com/enQdJBlVCt— Robert Olson (@RobertOlson92) January 13, 2018
The Eagles Wire on USA Today chronicled how Kendricks’ discipline on the final play prevented Matt Ryan from having an outlet to throw to once Julio Jones — his first read — slipped on the play.
Up by five points with 1:05 left in the divisional-round game against the Atlanta Falcons on Saturday, the Philadelphia Eagles were in desperate need of a defensive stop.
Naturally, the attention went to wide receiver Julio Jones. After all, he’s the Falcons’ best player on offense.
Some of the Eagles players reflected on the play after the game, and a hidden hero emerged.
The Falcons indeed looked to get the ball to Jones, but he slipped while running a short comeback route. It caused quarterback Matt Ryan to pull the ball down and look to the other side of the field.
As we all know, the pass fell incomplete. With so much attention being paid to Jones, there would have been an option for Ryan had linebacker Mychal Kendricks not made a heads-up play.
Notice how Falcons running back Tevin Coleman throws a cut block on right defensive end Vinny Curry. Coleman stayed on the ground for a moment almost as if he were waiting for Kendricks to abandon him before getting up and becoming a target again.
In the clip below, watch how Kendricks stayed with his assignment and closed on Coleman as Ryan looked in his direction. The slow motion showed how Coleman could’ve gotten open at the bottom of the screen.
The Eagles were in man defense, and Coleman was Kendricks’ assignment. This was a classic example of Kendrick’s trusting the defense and not trying to be a hero. He simply did his job.
With the sprint-out play taking place, Kendricks wisely stays at home while Coleman was on the ground. Many defenders would have left their man and gone searching for where the action was taking place, which in this case was on the other side of the field.
As Ryan rolled out, he looked backside to Coleman after he had to come off of Jones. So many times in those kinds of situations, teams are able to score because of a blown assignment.
Shot 10 - A lot went in to the #Eagles final play on defense, a critical fourth down stop that ended the #Falcons season. Great job by Jalen Mills, both safeties, Nigel Bradham and Mychal Kendricks on this play! #FlyEaglesFly pic.twitter.com/IWQc1zPZaL— Fran Duffy (@fduffy3) January 15, 2018
Brian Schwenke, Khalfani Muhammad, and the Tennessee Titans took a 35-14 loss to the New England Patriots in the AFC Divisional Round, while Tyson Alualu and the Pittsburgh Steelers lost once again at home to the Jacksonville Jaguars 45-42. Alualu registered one tackle.
In the craziest game of the weekend, Cameron Jordan and the New Orleans Saints suffered a heartbreaking 29-24 walk-off loss to the Minnesota Vikings. Jordan also registered just one tackle in the contest.
Though his season ended in difficult fashion, Jordan was right back out in the community this week making a difference.
Thanks @camjordan94 for visiting @discoveryhsf & teaching our kids about setting goals You are a Saint & a Champion! #13sacks #WhoDatNation #swampowlpride @Saints @GregBensel @jeffersoncoc @CityofKenner @JeffParishGov pic.twitter.com/aVwyYCgLTL— Patty Glaser (@pattyglaser) January 17, 2018
Which teams do you all think will come out on top this weekend? Sound off in the comments!