Mis­takes, in­juries pile up in loss to Pack­ers

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - SPORTS - By Bob Grotz bgrotz@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @BobGrotz on Twit­ter

PHILADELPHIA >> The Ea­gles sure didn’t look in­vin­ci­ble at home Mon­day night. Far from it.

The way the Ea­gles played, it was hard to be­lieve they won at all this sea­son at Lincoln Fi­nan­cial Field, much less car­ried a 4-0 mark into the prime­time af­fair.

This was the game the de­fen­sive line was sup­posed to carry the Ea­gles to vic­tory. Fletcher Cox and Bran­don Gra­ham, com­bined with that in­cred­i­ble crowd en­ergy and noise, were sup­posed to cor­ner Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Pack­ers, who were mak­ing a last stand.

Cox had one tackle so late, it didn’t mat­ter. And he had one penalty that was so nasty it ex­tended the de­ci­sive Pack­ers scor­ing drive.

Gra­ham had five tack­les and — stop me if you’ve heard this — a penalty that ex­tended a scor­ing drive.

It was an in­sult to Ea­gles fans who stuck around un­til the end of a com­pre­hen­sive 27-13 loss.

“A lot of self-in­flicted wounds,” coach Doug Ped­er­son said. “All phases of the game. Of­fen­sively I thought we started the game great match­ing their seven points and then the self-in­flicted stuff, penal­ties hurt us. Too many lit­tle things.”

The Ea­gles lost lead­ing re­ceiver Jor­dan Matthews to an an­kle in­jury. They played with­out guard Bran­don Brooks, who was hos­pi­tal­ized with an ill­ness.

“He was very nau­se­ated, throw­ing up all day, so we sent him to the hos­pi­tal for more test­ing,” Ped­er­son said.

These weren’t the Pack­ers who were sup­posed to make the Ea­gles well.

No, these were the Pack­ers who Rodgers boldly said were ca­pa­ble of run­ning the ta­ble, tak­ing the first step Mon­day.

Rodgers al­most ef­fort­lessly threw two touch­down passes and gen­er­ally con­trolled the tempo much of the evening as the Pack­ers made it 29 straight wins with a lead en­ter­ing the fourth quar­ter.

The fi­nal scor­ing drive said it all. Rodgers marched the Pack­ers, who had their share of in­juries en­ter­ing the fray, 78 yards in 17 plays con­sum­ing 8 min­utes, 21 sec­onds.

The march ended with a field goal.

The Ea­gles had no an­swer. Car­son Wentz threw for 241 yards. He also was sacked four times, hit sev­eral more.

With the loss the Ea­gles are keep­ing com­pany with a trio of 5-6 teams, join­ing the Pack­ers and the New Or­leans Saints. Tech­ni­cally they’re 10th in the wild card race for six spots. A vic­tory over the Pack­ers would’ve moved the Birds into eighth, a head-to­head tiebreaker ahead of the Vik­ings (6-5).

It didn’t have to be like that.

All of the Ea­gles faults ap­peared on the de­ci­sive drive of the game, one that be­gan in the third quar­ter with the Pack­ers nurs­ing a 17-13 lead.

It be­gan with a bone­head mis­take, not by Nel­son Agholor, who didn’t dress for the game, but by Fletcher Cox, the high­est paid Ea­gle.

With the Pack­ers in thir­dand-3 at their 31, Cox tack­led Rodgers around the neck for a drive-ex­tend­ing, rough­ingthe-passer penalty.

Next, Jordy Nel­son somehow caught the re­bound on a quick pass that de­flected in the air af­ter a col­li­sion with Jalen Mills for an­other first down.

Later, Ped­er­son chal­lenged a two-yard catch. He won the chal­lenge for an in­com­ple­tion but was out of chal­lenges with 1:38 left in the third quar­ter. It was a “for-who, for-what” mo­ment.

It was all over but the touch­down when cor­ner­back Nolan Car­roll, who was burned all evening, grabbed Da­vante Adams in the end zone.

You al­most couldn’t blame him. Adams al­ready had two TD grabs.

Two plays later, 246-pound full­back Aaron Rip­kowski bar­reled into the end zone (the team’s first rush­ing score by a run­ning back all sea­son) and the Pack­ers had a 24-13 lead with 13:53 re­main­ing.

The Ea­gles weren’t through. But they couldn’t over­come them­selves.

Dar­ren Spro­les ex­ploded for a 41-yard catch-and-run, only to have the play nul­li­fied by a hold on Do­rial GreenBeck­ham.

In­stead of a first down at the Pack­ers’ 29, the Ea­gles had first-and-20 at their 15.

Even­tu­ally the drive fiz­zled de­spite a 15-yard face­mask penalty on Pack­ers end Julius Pep­pers.

The Ea­gles de­fense had a chance to swing the mo­men­tum. But Gra­ham contributed a neu­tral zone in­frac­tion giv­ing the Pack­ers a first down on third-and­five at the Green Bay 13, en­abling the vis­i­tors to kill more clock.

The Ea­gles opened the game with a lot of new faces in the lineup.

Rookie Isaac Seu­malo started at right guard for Brooks. Agholor’s scratch gave rookie Bryce Treggs his first start. And Spro­les, bro­ken rib and all, started at run­ning back as Ryan Mathews was de­ac­ti­vated.

It was too much for the Ea­gles to over­come.

The Ea­gles didn’t get even a whiff of Rodgers on the first se­ries of the game, the vet­eran throw­ing for 47 yards, com­plet­ing 5 of 6 at­tempts and run­ning twice for 25 yards to ig­nite a 10-play, 75yard scor­ing drive.

That was the first touch­down the Ea­gles al­lowed in a first quar­ter at home this sea­son. And there was more.

The Ea­gles an­swered with Car­son Wentz com­plet­ing 7 of 7 at­tempts, in­clud­ing four to DGB, to knot the score.

Wentz com­pleted the march with a Rodgers-es­que one-yard run fea­tur­ing a ton of scram­bling, pump-fak­ing and a dive at the end.

But Rodgers was in a groove, the Ea­gles un­able to put on much pres­sure as he fired his sec­ond scor­ing pass of the game to Adams, giv­ing the Pack­ers a 14-7 leave.

The pace was too much for both teams.

When the Ea­gles got the ball, Wentz be­gan tak­ing hits from Pep­pers and Mike Daniels, the lat­ter for a 14-yard sack on what was sup­posed to be a re­verse to Treggs.

Wentz was run­ning on fumes when he got the Birds just close enough for Caleb Stur­gis to send a 48-yard field goal through the up­rights with 25 sec­onds left in the half.

MATT ROURKE — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

With lit­tle pres­sure in his face from Bran­don Gra­ham, right, and his Ea­gles co­hort, Pack­ers quar­ter­back Aaron Rodgers carved up the Ea­gles in a 27-13 win Mon­day.

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