NEW ORLEANS — In the end, Alshon Jeffery was down on the ground, face first, his hands on his helmet.
The Eagles’ last chance to extend their season another week into the NFC Championship Game had just gone through his hands and into the arms of New Orleans Saints cornerback Marshon Lattimore.
But really, the Eagles’ 20-14 loss to the Saints in the Divisional Round of the NFL playoffs was a valiant effort that fell just short, done in by a top-seeded foe that found its rhythm after a great start by the Eagles, who took a 14-0 lead in the first quarter.
None of that made Jeffery feel any better.
“It’s a play I didn’t make,” Jeffery said. “It went through my hands. Nick (Foles) gave me a catchable ball. I gotta make that play. It’s on me. I’ll take that loss. It’s on me. I let all my teammates down, the city of Philadelphia. That’s on me. I’ll take that.”
And then, Foles, head coach Doug Pederson and other players consoled Jeffery on the sideline.
What did they tell him?
“Just that I’m a hell of a player,” Jeffery said. “I mean, we wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for me, stuff like that. We wouldn’t have won the Super Bowl if it wasn’t for me last year. But that was last year. But hey, things like that happen.
“It happens to the best of us. You gotta move on. It hurts right now. But I guarantee we’ll be back next year for sure.”
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That wasn’t the only reason the Eagles lost. It was just their last.
Later, right tackle Lane Johnson revealed that Jeffery, who had five receptions for 63 yards, was playing with broken ribs suffered last Sunday against the Chicago Bears.
“It is what it is,” Jeffery said. “It happens to the best. Guys miss game-winning shots, drop touchdowns all the time. It happens to the best of us. We live and we learn.
“I mean, it’ll fuel me the whole offseason when I’m training. I know each guy in this locker room, we want the same thing. We hate this feeling right now.”
The Saints will host the Rams in the NFC Championship Game on Sunday at 3:05 p.m.
Follow Martin Frank on Twitter @Mfranknfl