PHILADELPHIA -- The Eagles came up short in the playoffs again Saturday night.
Their bid to win a postseason game for the first time since the 2008 season ended with a 26-24 loss to New Orleans in a wild-card, or first-round, game at Lincoln Financial Field.
Saints place-kicker Shayne Graham booted a 32-yard field goal on the final play of regulation to give the Saints (12-5) the first road playoff victory in franchise history. They will play Seattle in the divisional round next Saturday.
"Give Seattle credit," Eagles linebacker Trent Cole said. "I thought both teams played a great game, but they found a way to beat us in our own house. That's what makes this so frustrating and disappointing."
The Eagles (10-7) and rookie coach Chip Kelly will have to be satisfied with having won the NFC East title for the first time since the 2010 season and injected excitement into a team a year after it stumbled to a 4-12 record.
They hoped to keep the season going for at least one more week and appeared capable of pulling it off when quarterback Nick Foles threw a 3-yard touchdown pass to rookie tight end Zach Ertz to give the team a 24-23 lead with 4 minutes, 54 seconds left in regulation.
But the Saints took advantage of a costly breakdown by the Eagles' special teams to set up Graham's fourth field goal of the game. Philadelphia cornerback Cary Williams was penalized 15 yards for a horse-collar tackle against Saints kickoff returner Darren Sproles, a penalty that set New Orleans up at the Eagles' 48-yard line. Saints quarterback Drew Brees had no trouble moving them into position for Graham's kick.
"I was just trying to make a play," Williams said. "(Sproles) had broken containment, and I made the decision to do whatever I had to do to bring him down and give our defense and opportunity to stop them."
The Eagles have now suffered a one-and-done exit from the playoffs for the third straight appearance since reaching the NFC championship game in 2008. They have not won a home playoff game since 2006.
Yet considering how low expectations were at the beginning of the season, they enjoyed a successful year.
"It's disappointing right now, but I'm very proud of this team," Kelly said. "From a working environment standpoint, they made this season very special. We just didn't play well enough to win tonight."
The Eagles' offense was unproductive for most of the first three quarters, giving a sellout crowd very little reason to get excited.
That changed late in the third period, when Foles and wide receiver DeSean Jackson brought the fans to their feet with a terrific play that set the stage for running back LeSean McCoy's 1-yard touchdown run that cut the Saints' lead to 20-14 with 32 seconds left in the period.
Foles rolled out right away from the pass rush. Just before he reached the sideline, he fired a long pass downfield. Jackson, who had been shut out to that point, outfought White for a 40-yard gain.
Four plays later, the Eagles faced a fourth-and-one play. McCoy followed a powerful block from guard Todd Herremans into the end zone to put the Eagles back in contention.
The Eagles moved back into scoring position again on their next series after a 29-yard punt return by Jackson. But after reaching the Saints' 7-yard line, Kelly decided against going for it again on fourth-and-one and called upon place-kicker Alex Henery. After an illegal procedure penalty, Henery booted a 31-yard field goal to cut the Eagles' deficit to 20-17 with 11:14 left in regulation.
Foles completed 23 of 33 passes for 195 yards with two TD passes and no interceptions.
"I'm very proud of this team for the way we continued to fight and for what we did this season," Foles said. "This doesn't feel very good right now. We want to keep playing. But I love my team, and I love this city for the way they supported us."
The Eagles might have been able to keep playing if not for a crucial mistake by Foles in the first half.
He had guided the Eagles to the Saints' 15, but New Orleans dropped tight end Brent Celek for an 8-yard loss and then sacked Foles for an 11-yard setback to the 34. Henery tried to muscle a 48-yard field goal attempt through the frigid air, but it hooked wide left.
"I thought we'd be OK from there," Henery said. "A 48-yard field goal was about my limit before the game. There is a comfortable point, and then there is a desperation point. That was a comfortable point."
New Orleans upped its edge to 23-17 with 8:04 to go in the fourth quarter on Graham's third field goal of the game, a 35-yarder. Brees set up the kick with a 40-yard completion to wide receiver Robert Meachum.
The Eagles' 10-point flurry had enabled them to steal back some of the momentum the Saints had gained earlier in the second half. Trailing 7-6 at halftime, the Saints offense wasted little time in finding its rhythm, scoring on its first two possessions of the third quarter to take control of the game at 20-7.
The Eagles used a terrific first-half performance by their defense to gain a 7-6 halftime advantage.
Brees, who threw for more than 5,000 yards during the regular season, struggled at the outset by throwing two interceptions. Eagles cornerback Bradley Fletcher grabbed the first one, becoming the first Eagle to have an interception in a playoff game since Quintin Mikell on Jan. 11, 2009 at the New York Giants. Linebacker DeMeco Ryans grabbed one in the second quarter to set up the Eagles' first touchdown, a 10-yard pass from Foles to Cooper with 1:48 left in the first half.
"Losing this game is going to hurt for a long time," Foles said. "But I know we're going to be successful in the future if we just keep working at this. I know that doesn't guarantee anything, but I'm just so proud of what we were able to do this year."