Week 12: Packers Discover Winning Ways Against Eagles
Gary: The Packers’ backs are up against the wall. They’re in third place in the NFC North, and after the Lions defeated the Vikings on Thanksgiving, Green Bay is 2.5 games out of first place. After last Sunday night’s loss to the Redskins, the Washington Post said the Packers are “pretty dreadful right now and their season is slipping away.”
Gone is the talk of Aaron Rodgers struggling, and in its place is a harsh criticism of Dom Capers’ defense. The Packers have allowed 38 points a game over their four game losing streak. And now, they’re facing a talented rookie quarterback, Carson Wentz.
Wentz is tutored by former Packers backup quarterback and now Eagles head coach Doug Pederson. Wentz has had a pretty good start to his career. He’s got a passer rating over 100 in his first five games. Since then, he’s come back down to earth with a passer rating of 72.4 in his last six games.
Don’t be so quick to put all the blame on Wentz, though. His receivers are pedestrian, and Zach Ertz is a marginal tight end.
The Packers offense, on the other hand, is facing a tough test against an Eagles defense that has allowed a league-low 9.5 points at home this season. The offensive line is down two starters – T.J. Lang and JC Tretter are both out, and in their place are Jason Spriggs and Corey Linsley.
Finally, the Packers are a five point underdog heading into this game. It’s just the 21st time in the past five years that McCarthy’s Packers have been an underdog. Since 2011, the Packers have only won four of those times.
After a shaky start, the Packers defense holds up against the Eagles
Jon: It’s easy to look back at this game and say, “Yeah, this is where it all started to turn around.” But it wasn’t even close to a sure thing at the time. The Packers played better, but not that much better.
On offense, the Packers came out humming. They took the opening kickoff and went 75 yards in just over six minutes for a score. Davante Adams scored his first of two touchdowns when he smoked his man on a slant pattern and got into the end zone.
The problem? Green Bay’s defense turned around and gave it all back. Carson Wentz looked like an All-Pro on his first drive, and Philadelphia went 81 yards in 11 plays and calmly scored a TD.
It gets interesting is the next drive. Rodgers and the Packers really start clicking, and the drive culminates with an absolutely ridiculous 20 yard touchdown from Rodgers to Adams.
The defense gets a stop, and then when the Packers can’t do anything on their next drive, Jacob Schum drops a punt on the Eagles’ 1 yard line. With 3:28 left, the Eagles are cooked, right? Not so much. Wentz takes them into field goal range and the Eagles convert the kick to make it 14-10 at the half.
Philadelphia is set to receive the ball to start the second half, and things suddenly look scary for the Packers again. Then, here comes Ha Ha Clinton-Dix to the rescue. After a long drive by the Eagles, he intercepts Carson Wentz at the Packers’ 16-yard line. The Packers get a field goal to extend their lead to 17-10, and they hold the Eagles to a field goal of their own.
On the next Packers drive, something interesting happens. In Week 12 of the NFL season, someone other than Aaron Rodgers scores a rushing touchdown for the Packers. Aaron Ripkowski runs the ball in from two yards out and puts the Packers up 24-13.
For a bit in the fourth quarter, things get shaky. After a muffed punt by Randall Cobb, the Packers find themselves backed up on their own 8 yard line with just over 10 minutes to go. If Philadelphia can get a stop and get the ball back, they’re in great position.
Aaron Rodgers says no way. He takes the Packers on a 17-play, 78 yard drive that milks 8:21 off the clock and ends with a field goal. Philadelphia is cooked, and the Packers win 27-13. This is the Packers’ longest drive of the season, tying for one the previous week in Washington.
Were the Packers back? Or did they happen to catch a rookie quarterback at the start of his slide?
Gary: No, they’re not back yet. It’s much of the same for the Packers against the Eagles compared to last week’s blowout against the Redskins. Last week, Kirk Cousins played the best game of his career, and this week, Carson Wentz struggled after an early touchdown drive to start the game. Philadelphia’s offensive weapons are poor, and they didn’t do enough to help Wentz.
Additionally, Aaron Rodgers’ calf injury in the third quarter puts a halt to any talk of a furious late season run. The Packers abandoned all plays from under center, taking their running game out of the picture for the most part. In 2014, the impact of Rodgers’ calf injury was lessened by the talent that surrounded him. At this point in the season, I’m not sure this year’s team can increase their level of play like they did in 2014.
This conversation first appeared in Episode 19 of our weekly podcast. Blue 58, powered by WTMJ Mobile, goes beyond the headlines to help you become a smarter fan of the Green Bay Packers. Hosted by former WTMJ newscaster Jon Meerdink and his friend Gary Zilavy, Blue 58 brings you a unique, upbeat perspective on your favorite NFL team, as long as that team is the Packers.