EAGLES OVERCOME MISTAKES, TURNOVERS AND POOR SPECIAL TEAMS PLAY TO OUTSCORE PACKERS 40-33
Regardless of the sport, one of the keys to winning is getting off to a good start. The Eagles did that Sunday night, jumping out to a 13-0 lead over the Green Bay Packers with 9:02 left in the first quarter.
The Eagles needed every point to overcome turnovers, mistakes, special team lapses on kick coverage and poor tackling against the Packers run game.
The Eagles rushing attack saved the day as the Birds cranked out a near-record total of 363 yards – 7.4 yards per carry – on the ground en route to a wild 40-33 win over Aaron Rodgers and the Packers.
The victory upped the Eagles record to a league-leading 10-1 and virtually assured them of a playoff spot.
Jalen Hurts led the Eagles again torching the Packers for 157 yards on 17 carries on the ground and going 16 of 28 for 153 yards and two touchdowns passes in the air.
The Eagle offense committed two turnovers – fumble and downs that included a fumble – that resulted in two Packers touchdowns.
Hurts talked about those plays.
“I think we try to control the things that we can,” said Hurts, who was sacked twice. “That is my constant message to the guys. It’s on both sides of the ball. We go out there and control the things we can, and good things typically happen. If you don’t, you’re not dictating the outcome of things.
“I think for us on both sides of the ball, special teams, offensively and defensively we just have to continue to learn from the things that we are supposed to learn from, our mistakes.
“I have moments in this game where I’m like I could’ve possibly extended this to a three possession game instead of a two possession game, or we had two turnovers defensively but we [also] had two turnovers offensively with the turnover on downs – kind of a miscommunication there because they kind of simulated the snap.
“And then we had the fumble. Those are all things that we can control, so in the end it’s about every individual dominating their box and doing what they are supposed to do. We take a great deal of pride in doing it that way, so it’s an everlasting climb.
“There’s always going to be something, there’s always going to be something – that’s the mentality that we have and the mentality that I have. We just want to continue to grow from the good and the bad.”
THE GAME STARTED OFF WELL ENOUGH
The Eagles, as a team, has an impressive start...Kenneth Gainwell ended a 75-yard, 10-play drive on the Birds first possession. In that drive, Hurts gashed Green Bay with 52 yards on two carries.
On the Packers first drive, Eagles cornerback Darius Slay got a hand on Rodgers’ second pass of the game that generated an interception by Josiah Scott. The Eagles ensuing drive started at the Packers 29-yard line.
The Eagles went up 13-0 with 9:02 left in the first quarter after Miles Sanders scored on a 16-yard run. Jake Elliott missed the extra point.
SPECIAL TEAMS KICK COVERAGE WOES SURFACED AGAIN
Then special teams gave up the first of three big returns by Green Bay. Kelsean Nixon ran the kickoff back from the three 38 yards, setting up Rodgers at their own 41-yard line.
The Packers (4-8) drove 59 yards on four plays, finished off with a 20-yard AJ Dillon touchdown run making the score 13-7.
On the next drive, the Birds made it to their own 37-yard line but stalled one yard short on third down.
Nick Sirianni wanted to show aggressiveness…sometimes it goes your way, sometimes not so much.
After two quarterback sneaks, it was Green Bay’s ball.
Packers head coach Matt LaFleur was faced with a similar decision when the Eagles forced a fourth and five at the Eagles 32.
Aaron Rogers hit Christian Watson with a pass that set up first and ten at the Eagles 11-yard line.
Rogers then drilled a strike to Randall Cobb for a touchdown giving the visitors a 14-13 lead with 3:09 left in the first quarter,
What started off so well for the home team, was now turning into a shootout.
The Eagles rolled the Packers defense again with Miles Sanders scoring from the two-yard line to finish a seven-play, 75 yard drive. Eagles led 20-14.
Things looked up when backup safety – in for injured C.J. Gardner-Johnson - Reed Blankenship intercepted a pass intended for tight end Tyler Davis.
The Eagles next drive started at their own 22-yard line with 11:12 left in the second quarter.
At this point, Hurts already rushed seven times for 103 yards.
He continued to push the Packers defense. One running play went 17 yards by Hurts, then an unsportsmanlike penalty by Green Bay added 15 yards to the drive.
Now at the Packers 22-yard line, a pass to AJ Brown ended with a disastrous result. Safety Rudy Ford stripped Brown of the ball. Linebacker Quay Walker returned the scooped ball 63 yards to the Eagles 13-yard line.
A holding call didn’t faze Rodgers.
The Packers scored on an off-schedule 23-yard throw by Rodger to Jones that evened the score 20-20 after Mason Crosby missed the extra point.
The next drive by Green Bay was stopped on sacks by Josh Sweat and Fletcher Cox.
With just over two minutes left in the half,
Hurts then led the Eagles nine-play 71-yard drive that ended with a 30-yard touchdown pass to Quez Watkins to take a 27-20 lead into the locker room.
WIDE RECEIVER FUMBLES
This is the third week in a row where a wide receiver has fumbled the ball and cost the Eagles dearly.
Two weeks ago, Watkins lost a fumble after a 50-yard reception. The Birds lost their first game of the season. Against Indianapolis, Brown lost a fumble with 9:43 left in the fourth quarter of a game the Birds trailed 13-10 before the fumble.
The Eagles defense held the Colts to a field goal.
Brown’s fumble this week ended up costing the Eagles a touchdown.
A.J Brown missed some practices this week because of illness (as it was listed on the injury report). There are reports out there that stated Brown was pretty sick.
With 7:23 left in the third quarter, Hurts hit Brown with a six-yard touchdown pass that gave the Birds a 34-20 lead. There was no Batman cape or a choreographed skit in the end zone this time.
Brown seemed to be still shaken by his turnover in the first half. After the game, Brown was asked if he was frustrated to fumble the ball again.
“It is, it is,” said Brown who finished with four catches for 46 yards and a touchdown. “I told myself I was going to work on it this week, the ball security end. But I was sick. I do not want to make excuses, but I missed some practices. I’ve got to be better with the ball. I’m not going to change how aggressive I am with the ball in my hand, because that’s who I am. I’ve just got to do a better job with the details.”
Brown was asked about when he scored in the third to put the Eagles and there was not much of a celebration, no hamming it up. Brown was asked if he felt a sense of relief, even redemption after his big turnover earlier in the game.
“You could say that,” Brown said after thinking about it for a few seconds. “You could say that. But I was just grateful.”
RODGERS LEAVES THE GAME
The future Hall of Fame quarterback could not take advantage of the 52-yard lick return to start the quarter.
He was sacked at midfield for a five-yard loss on third down by Haason Reddick and Brandon Graham.
It was obvious Rodgers was struggling.
He managed to lead the Pack on a ten-play, 64-yard drive that resulted in a Mason Crosby 29-yard field goal to make the score 34-23, but that was it for Rodgers.
After the game, he talked about what was going on. The press room official announced he out of the game getting evaluated for an oblique injury.
“It was a rib injury,” said Rodgers, who finished 11 of 16 for 140 yards, two touchdown passes, two interceptions and three painful sacks. “It was in the first half and got re-aggravated in the third quarter. Just having a hard time breathing and rotating my upper body. I was worried about a punctured lung as well and wanted to get that checked out as well. Getting a scan tomorrow.”
EAGLES OFFENSE HITS THE 40-POINT MARK
After the Packers field goal, the Eagles connected on Elliott field goals of 31 and 54 yards. Jordan Love came in for Rodgers and was impressive. He hit to Christian Watson with a 63-yard TD pass to make the game look closer than it was.
The 2020 first round draft pick was 6 of 9 for 113 yards and the touchdown. He had no turnovers and was not sacked.
Sanders finished with a career high 143 yards on 21 carries and two touchdowns.
DeVonta caught four passes for 50 yards. Watkins caught three of the five passes thrown his way for 35 yards and a TD.
As a team, the Packers rushed 21 times for 106 yards with Dillon leading with 64 yards on nine carries.
The Eagles special teams kick coverage was awful and was a big reason Green Bay ended up scoring 33 points.
Running back Boston Scott, curled up in full uniform on the floor of his locker talked about the unit’s poor showing.
“We’ve got to get to work on that,” said Scott, who rushed three times for 24 yards and returned four kickoffs for 91 yards. “I made some mistakes out there for sure. It’s just something that we’ve got to clean up. We’ve got to clean it up. The scheme is there, the scheme is fine. We as players have to go out there and execute …period. And that’s everybody.”
Derek Henry and the Tennessee Titans are next up. To be sure, to a man, they will be watching film of this game all week. *
Email Al Thompson at email@example.com