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Eagles-Packers Postgame: Whack-a-Pack
The Philadelphia Eagles caught a break when Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers suffered a broken collarbone on the Packers' first series on Monday night. Then his backup, Seneca Wallace, suffered a groin injury on the first series against the Eagles on Sunday. That left only Scott Tolzien at quarterback and considering the fact that he was on the practice squad until last week, it's no wonder the Eagles walked out of Lambeau Field with a 27-13 record.
The Packers' sad quarterback situation wasn't the only bit of good luck for the Eagles on this day. Green Bay kicker, Mason Crosby also missed two field goals and the bounces seemed to be going the Eagles' way.
The Eagles defense was having trouble stopping Green Bay running back, Eddie Lacy on their first possession, but they eventually stiffened up and held the Packers to the first of Crosby's missed field goal attempts. This one bounced off the right upright. Lacy had been hot coming into the game, but the Eagles defense held him to 73 yards on 24 carries.
On the other side of the ball, Nick Foles got lucky when his deep pass to DeSean Jackson (4 receptions for 80 yards, 1 TD) was deflected by two different Packers defenders and picked out of the air by Jackson, who waltzed into the endzone. But that was only the beginning of the lucky bounces for the Eagles.
After the Eagles took that 7-0 lead, Tolzien (24-for-39, 280 yards, 1 TD, 2 INTs, 70.5 passer rating) entered the game. After a three-and-out, he was moving the Packers pretty well for someone with no experience. After driving the Packers 91 yards on 17 plays, to the Eagles 5 yard line, Tolzien threw a terrible pass that Brandon Boykin returned 76 yards. That was as close to making this a game as the Packers would get.
Alex Henery and Crosby exchanged makeable field goals, before each actually made one before halftime.
Has Nick Foles done enough to be named the Eagles' starting QB the rest of the season?
After tying the NFL record of 7 TD passes in a game last week, Foles was a pedestrian 6-for-12 for 115 yards and that one Jackson TD throw at halftime. Tolzien was a respectable 14-for-22 for 182 yards, at the half, but that interception was the difference in the game so far.
Then the Eagles took over the game in the third quarter by scoring on each of first three possessions of the second half. A 45-yard touchdown pass to Riley Cooper was followed by a Henery 41-yard field goal that was set up by a DeMeco Ryans interception off a deflection. That made the score 20-3 , but Tolzien answered with his first touchdown throw to little-known backup tight end Brandon Bostick, to cut the score to 20-13. Foles responded quickly with yet another TD throw to Cooper that covered 32 yards. Cooper had 3 catches for 102 yards and 2 touchdowns and seems to have a connection with Foles. And even more amazing than Cooper being a legitimate NFL receiver is that his score was set up by a 16-yard Foles scramble for a first down on 3rd and 6.
Crosby tacked on a 35-yard field goal to close the gap and Foles fumbled when sacked to give the Packers the ball at the Eagles 13 yard line. The play was Foles first turnover of the season and actually gave the Packers some life. Unfortunately for the home team, Tolzien's pass on 4th down was ruled incomplete in the endzone when Jordy Nelson (6-65 yards) couldn't get his hand under the ball as he went to the ground. You could see it bounce off the ground and it was confirmed on replay.
The Eagles took over on downs and proceeded to run the final 9:32 off the clock with a long drive that was led by nine LeSean McCoy carries. McCoy, who finished the game with 155 yards rushing on 25 carries, only had 137 yards rushing in his last three games combined, so this was a nice bounce-back game for the NFL's leading rusher against a good run defense.
Foles didn't have another record-setting performance this game, but he did enough to get his team the win. He only completed 12 of his 18 passes, but they went for 228 yards and three TDs. That was good for another 194.3 passer rating and if he keeps this up he'll lead the NFL in passer rating once he plays enough to qualify in those standing.
Nick Foles' 7 TD Passes
The Eagles two-game winning streak has them back at .500 with a 5-5 record, which puts them a half game behind the Dallas Cowboys for first place in the NFC East. The 5-4 Cowboys have to travel to New Orleans to take on the Saints, so there is a good chance the Eagles will be tied atop the NFC East before Sunday is over. That's pretty amazing considering how low expectations were for Chip Kelly's first season coaching in the NFL.
Now Kelly had some bad moment again this week, especially in not challenging a play where Green Bay receiver Jarrett Boykin (8 catches for 112 yards) obviously came down out of bounds on a 36 yard pass. But at least this week, he let Green Bay's Mike McCarthy call a pass from inside the five yard line with an inexperienced quarterback who proceeded to commit a crucial turnover. Baby steps for little Chipper.
For now, Eagles fans are sure to be excited about the team staying in contention for the division title. Unfortunately, I'm sure the fans will go way overboard in expecting a deep playoff run due to a couple of mid-season wins. The truth is that the Eagles still haven't won a home game in their last 10 tries and their next three games (with a bye in there) are at home. The Eagles 5-1 record on the road is a little less impressive when you consider the 0-4 record at home. Let's see if they can actually win a game at home before we even consider them legitimate contenders for the division.
But for now, Eagles fans can be happy that their team was able to win a game they absolutely had to win. And if you think it was a gimme, I have two words for you, Joe Webb. Thank God that didn't happen again.