In the days before the Eagles divisional round matchup against the Falcons, Ajayi was one very fired up running back. ‘Ready for war’ was the phrase used by many as the Brit described his mindset coming into this weekend. The Eagles won a tenacious battle at Lincoln Financial Field, but Ajayi’s war is only just beginning.
When the Eagles lined up on offense for the first time, Ajayi staring down the likes of Falcons linebacker Deion Jones, there was a sense of passion. Fans wanted to see Pederson and the Eagles pound the rock and who better than a back who averaged 5.8 yards per carry to kick off the proceedings?
Ajayi burst through the trenches for a six yard rush, garnering a roar from the crowd. Suddenly, it turned to shock. Silence fell on the Linc as Ajayi fumbled the football, turning it over just moments after a deep shot resulted in a PI flag, sending the Eagles deep into enemy territory. This was a moment Ajayi refuses to forget.
“Yeah, I feel like I did some of the job.” Ajayi told reporters when asked if his play lived up to the expectation placed on himself in the days leading up to the game. “To be honest, I feel like I played poorly though. Obviously, the fumble first carry – can’t do that in a big game. Just the drop as well – I feel like I could have executed a lot better today. I think it’s a great job and a great team win today. A lot of the teammates picked up the slack. The defense played lights out. Our other running backs made a lot of plays, so I just think coming in next week, I need to play better.”
Ajayi was overthrown on a couple of targets and a drop hurt the Eagles offense, but aside from that, the former Miami Dolphin ran rampantly against a Falcons team who struggled to contain him during the Pins’ week 6 showdown with them. Ajayi amassed 54 yards on the ground and a further 44 through the air as the Eagles continued to play on his versatility.
In the second half, things really picked up for Ajayi and the Eagles. A thunderous job by Steven Wisniewski opened up a 32-yard screen reception for the running back, who was insistent on powering his way through anyone that stood before him. That very much set the tone for the day. Ajayi was bruising between the tackles, but it was his impact in the second level and beyond that really made the difference.
“I just think that we kind of got a little bit of momentum and we just stayed on the ball.” Ajayi said. ” I think that helped, just keep with the tempo and get them tired out. If you really look through the game, you can tell that their defense got worn down early and then on certain drives where we just kept going at them, they got worn down in those drives, so I think that helped us
What’s stunning is that even after the biggest win of the season, Ajayi is still hungry. Even after punishing any Falcons defender that tried to lock horns with him, Ajayi is still self critical. The running back holds himself to an incredibly high standard and while the City of Philadelphia will undoubtedly be enjoying the team’s first win in the postseason since 2008, Ajayi is still striving for more.
. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports