Mistakes, injuries pile up in loss to Packers
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.
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.