Alex Kielar | September 27th, 2019
What a game! What a way to open up week four! In what was a back-and-forth shootout last night, the Eagles were the team to come out on top, 34-27, in a thriller. The Eagles ended up finishing the game down to just two cornerbacks, but with just seconds left, backup cornerback Craig James came up with a big play to tip the ball in the air. Nigel Bradham caught the tipped ball for the game-sealing interception.
This could arguably be viewed as a “statement” win for the Eagles, who came in 1-2, to beat a Packers team coming into the game allowing only 11.5 points-per-game, at a hostile environment in Lambeau. Now let’s take a look at the big takeaways from this HUGE road win to bring the Eagles record to an even 2-2.
1. Balanced Offense
Over the last few weeks, I have been saying the Eagles needed to get the run game going, and they certainly did in this game. After starting off slow, being forced to punt on their first two drives and trailing 10-0 after a quarter, the Eagles dominated on offense. Jordan Howard and Miles Sanders combined 159 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns from Howard, on 26 carries. Howard also added a 20-yard catch-and-run touchdown for three total, showing the spark that he can bring to the offense.
Sanders also added a huge 67-yard kickoff return following the Packers’ field goal that put them up 10-0. This helped to spark the Eagles offense, as Carson Wentz found newly-returned Alshon Jeffery in the end zone for six. Jeffery finished with three catches for 38 yards and that touchdown, while tight end Zach Ertz led the passing attack with seven receptions for 65 yards. Tight end Dallas Goedert caught the other touchdown pass from Wentz, which put the Eagles up 14-13 at the time, as he finished with two catches for 16 yards and the touchdown. Overall the Eagles finished with more rushing yards (176) than passing (160) which was huge.
2. Red Zone Defense
While the Packers gained nearly 500 yards of total offense, the Eagles stood up when it mattered most; in the red zone. On seven attempts down within the Eagles twenty yard line, the Packers only came out with points three times. Derek Barnett also came up with a strip-sack of Rodgers which Brandon Graham recovered. One of the biggest stands was when Green Bay marched down 79 yards to the Eagles’ one-yard line with four chances to tie.
With the Packers run game nowhere to be found, they attempted passes on all four plays at the one. Two of them were alley-oops to tight end Jimmy Graham, and none were completed. The Packers would have another shot at the tie when the Eagles had to punt with over five minutes left, and they would march right back down the field again. They reached the seven-yard line with 66 seconds to go and finally ran the ball with Aaron Jones (only once), following a long stoppage after Eagles corner Avonte Maddox was carted off after a collision with his own teammate.
Then Rodgers attempted to throw a slant pass to Marquez Valdes-Scantling, which led to the game-sealing interception. Rodgers went there because James had just entered the game at cornerback and was just signed off the practice squad before the game. The Eagles secondary got burned several times, and also allowed two third down conversions on the final drive, but the fact they were able to stand up is something to feel good about.
3. Offensive Line Dominant
The offensive line of the Eagles was outstanding in the game, giving Wentz plenty of time to find open targets. They helped the offense score touchdowns on all four of their red-zone trips. They didn’t allow Wentz to be sacked even one time and just a handful of quarterback pressures. Wentz was sacked six times over the previous two weeks against Atlanta and Detroit; this was a huge step up.
4. This Team is Resilient
The Eagles faced a 10-point deficit for the fourth straight week to start the season, but they never gave up. They didn’t just roll over and quit, as they didn’t after being 1-2 to start the season. This team never gives up, and they have had that mindset for a few seasons now, back to their Super Bowl winning season in 2017. They are never down, scoring two touchdowns to take a 14-13 lead in the second quarter, then answering every time the Packers would score. Even while they came up short in the losses to Detroit and Atlanta, they never gave up and fought for all 60 minutes. It was certainly a team effort and a testament to their strength.
5. Carson Wentz is an Early MVP Candidate
I know it’s a little early to start talking about MVP candidates already, but the way Wentz has looked, even in the Eagles’ losses, has been great. So far this season Wentz has thrown for nine touchdowns, just two interceptions while averaging a 60.7 completion percentage, and has thrown for a total 963 yards. His QBR sits at 95.3 on the season, which is outlied by a 61.3 QBR in week two against Atlanta, where he threw two interceptions.
He was not helped by his offensive line in that game, however, as he didn’t get much time to find open receivers, and was down Jeffery and DeSean Jackson for most of the action. Subtract that game, and he sits at a 109.6 QBR after a 113.2 performance last night. If Wentz gives us more games like last night, his line gives him time, and his receivers catch his passes, he will definitely be in the running.
The Eagles will have a few extra days to rest and prepare to face the New York Jets next week, as they head back to the Linc for a 1:00 game. Moving forward, the Eagles have a ton of questions with their secondary, as even without the injuries they did not look like a strong part of the team.
One big thing on almost every single Eagles fan’s mind is whether the Eagles will trade for star cornerback Jalen Ramsey after he requested a trade from the Jaguars. It has been painfully obvious the Eagles desperately need a secondary upgrade, and general manager Howie Roseman should be grabbing the phone and try to get Ramsey to Philly. He would be the piece the Eagles need. Other than that, bring on the Jets.
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Main Image Credit:Embed from Getty Images