10 plays that shaped Eagles' season: No. 10

PHILADELPHIA -- No play gives a football season its shape quite as profoundly as the play that ends it.

So there could be only one choice for No. 10, the last in our series of plays that shaped the Eagles' 2013 season:

Jan. 4 vs. New Orleans: Shayne Graham kicks a 32-yard field goal.

The Eagles lost their playoff game to the Saints before Graham ever lined up to attempt that kick, of course. But that was a more gradual slipping away, which started right after Nick Foles' 3-yard touchdown pass to Zach Ertz gave the Eagles a 24-23 lead with just under five minutes left.

You could argue that the decisive play was another kick, Alex Henery's kickoff that landed in the arms of Darren Sproles just inside the end zone. Sproles got loose on the outside. Eagles cornerback Cary Williams had an angle, but was able to drag Sproles down only by grabbing him by his shoulder pads.

The 39-yard return and 15-yard penalty gave New Orleans the ball on the Philadelphia 48.

Yes, it was a big play. But Williams explained that he just wanted to give the Eagles defense a chance to make a stop, and he did. The Saints needed about 20 yards for a reasonable field goal attempt. They moved the ball 34 yards, and they did it while milking every agonizing second possible off the clock.

“They killed us slowly,” Eagles running back LeSean McCoy said.

The Saints ran the ball eight times in nine plays, converting three first downs before bringing Graham out on second-and-10 at the Eagles' 14-yard line. Because of all that had come before, the season-ending play was a chip shot even on a frigid night.

Chip Kelly and his players were cheered as they ran off the field. A first-round playoff loss, for this coach and this team, was progress. The season was over, but there was a sense something bigger was just beginning.