Eagles lose critical game to Patriots when Nelson Agholor can't come up with game-tying catch

Sunday was more than a rematch of Philadelphia’s epic Super Bowl victory over the New England Patriots.

It was a referendum on the Eagles’ playoff hopes. It did not pass.

The Patriots’ defense bounced back from a 37-20 loss to the Baltimore Ravens to stifle the Eagles offense in a 17-10 victory. The win keeps the Patriots in control of the No. 1 seed in the AFC playoffs at 9-1 while putting a significant dent in Philadelphia’s playoff hopes.

Agholor can’t come up with big play

Nelson Agholor had a chance to tie the game late in regulation, but couldn’t come up with a tough fourth-down catch in the end zone in the game’s final moments. The pass arrived via a desperate heave from quarterback Carson Wentz on fourth-and-10 from the Patriots’ 26-yard line.

The ball dropped into the end zone in range for Agholor to make a play. But it arrived at an awkward angle as New England cornerback Dont'a Hightower made a play on it.

Philadelphia Eagles' Nelson Agholor (13) cannot catch a pass in the end zone against New England Patriots' J.C. Jackson (27) during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Michael Perez)

Neither the Patriots nor quarterback Tom Brady — 26 of 47 for 216 yards and no touchdowns — had a big day on offense. But they didn’t need it as the Eagles managed just 255 yards from scrimmage while converting on 3-of-13 third-down conversion attempts.

Bad news for Philly’s playoff hopes

Philadelphia falls to 5-5 with the loss after watching the NFC East-leading Dallas Cowboys improve to 6-4 earlier Sunday with a win over the Detroit Lions. The Cowboys already have a win over the Eagles, giving them a leg up in the standings and for a tiebreaker.

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Meanwhile, the NFC wild-card race presents an untenable path with a pair of eight-plus-win teams in both the NFC North and NFC West. The San Francisco 49ers lead the NFC West at 9-1, a game ahead of the 8-2 Seattle Seahawks.

The 8-2 Green Bay Packers have a half-game lead over the 8-3 Minnesota Vikings in the NFC North.

Philadelphia, of course, is still alive in the playoff race. But with things going right for the Eagles’ competition on Sunday, combined with the loss to the Patriots, their path just got a lot tougher.

And for Agholor, who’s been in Eagles fans’ crosshairs all season for not making catches, it’s a brutal way to end the game.

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