That actually happened.
The Philadelphia Eagles really went into Lambeau Field and took down the Green Bay Packers on Thursday night, 34 to 27.
Time for some thoughts on an exciting win!
1 - The season is saved
The Eagles are 2-2 after beating the Packers. That’s so much better than being 1-3.
Revisiting what I wrote earlier this week:
The Eagles have made the playoffs in NINE out of their last ten 2-2 starts. They’ve won at least one playoff game in five of those ten.
The Eagles have won just one playoff game in their last ten 1-3 starts.
For even more perspective, check out this tweet prior to Thursday’s game:
Eagles facing the possibility of a 1-3 start. Keep in mind, in the Super Bowl Era, only 11% of teams have rebounded to make the playoffs after a 1-3 start. The only 1-3 team to win the Super Bowl? 2001 Patriots.— Kevin Negandhi (@KNegandhiESPN) September 26, 2019
The Eagles are 2-2 heading into a Week 5 game against a winless Jets team. The Eagles have a good opportunity to reach 3-2 next Sunday.
2 - This win was incredibly impressive
One of the best wins of the Doug Pederson and Carson Wentz era, for sure.
Beating Aaron Rodgers at Lambeau just isn’t easy. The Packers were 65-16-1 at home since Rodgers became the starting quarterback in 2008. That’s the second best home winning percentage in the NFL, only behind the New England Patriots.
But wait! There’s even more context.
Aaron Rodgers was 58-0-1 when leading by 10+ points at any point at home, per @EliasSports.— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) September 27, 2019
He is now 58-1-1.
Just an incredibly impressive win by the Eagles.
The Eagles are the first team EVER to beat Rodgers at home when he’s had a 10-point lead.
It looked like things were going to get ugly early on but this very resilient Eagles team didn’t quit. They kept fighting and and it paid off.
3 - Doug Pederson is the master of Thursday night
Pederson is now 5-0 in Thursday games since the Eagles hired him in 2016. Wentz started at quarterback for four of those.
2016, Week 16 — Eagles beat the 10-4 New York Giants at home, 24 to 19
2017, Week 6 — Eagles beat the 4-1 Carolina Panthers on the road, 28 to 23
2018, Week 1 — Eagles beat the 0-0 Atlanta Falcons at home, 18 to 12
2018, Week 6 — Eagles beat the 1-4 New York Giants on the road, 34 to 13
2019, Week 4 — Eagles beat the 3-0 Green Bay Packers on the road, 34 to 27
Earlier this week, Pederson was asked about his previous success on Thursday night. His answer:
“I think it’s just being able to focus on this week’s opponent and whatever happened the week before, we just kind of push that aside and focus on the next week. We don’t dwell on the past, and we move forward. Guys really handled their business well this week. Sometimes, too, your game plans are a little simpler maybe. You kind of get back to core stuff and maybe that’s a wake-up call for us as coaches to keep that in mind as we go. It’s a credit to the players though for how they handle this week both physically and mentally.”
So, is there a lesson for the coaching staff and the players here that can be applied outside of Thursday games? More simplification? Try to convince the NFL to allow the Eagles to play on Thursday night every week?
4 - Carson Wentz managed the game well
Interesting game for Wentz. Easily one of the biggest wins of his career, if not THE biggest one. It wasn’t exactly his most impressive statistical performance, which no one’s going to be caring about in a win.
Wentz’s final numbers: 16/27 (59.3%), 160 yards (5.9), 3 TD, 0 INT, 113.2 passer rating. Longest completion of the night: 20 yards.
Wentz got off to a slow start — so unlike the Eagles’ offense, I know — as he struggled with sailing passes above his intended targets. The fourth-year quarterback settled in, though, and generally did a nice of running the offense without turning the ball over. He didn’t carry the team on his back but he didn’t have to with the way the run game was working.
My biggest Wentz criticism is that he missed an opportunity to close the game out. On 2rd-and-6 at the Packers’ 49-yard line with 5:17 remaining in the fourth quarter, Wentz threw a hospital ball to Jordan Howard that ended up incomplete. He then had an open Alshon Jeffery for a first down and just threw an off target pass that forced the Eagles to punt. It wouldn’t been ideal if Wentz could’ve helped the Eagles get at least a field goal on that drive to make it a two-possession game.
Ultimately, the miscue didn’t matter. Wentz played well enough for the Eagles to win.
Through four games, Wentz is completing 60.7% of his attempts for 963 yards (6.6 average), 9 TD, 2 INT, and a 95.3 passer rating. Those numbers should only improve with DeSean Jackson, Alshon Jeffery, and Dallas Goedert getting healthier.
There’s ample reason to feel good about No. 11 moving forward.
5 - The Eagles’ offensive line kicked ass
The Packers entered Thursday night with 13 sacks in three games. The Eagles didn’t give up a single sack to Green Bay and they only allowed two quarterback hits.
The Eagles’ offensive line was also very effective when it came to opening holes for the team’s running backs, who combined for two touchdowns and 163 yards on 27 carries (6.0 average).
The Eagles are designed to win through the trenches and the offensive line came through against a tough challenge. Kudos to Jeff Stoutland and the big guys up front.
Let’s also give credit to Dallas Goedert, who earned high praise from former NFL scout Daniel Jeremiah:
Goedert is like an extra OT in the run game.— Daniel Jeremiah (@MoveTheSticks) September 27, 2019
The Eagles love to run the ball in 12 personnel and it’s not hard to see why.
6 - You don’t want to let the Eagles’ backfield get hot
Both Miles Sanders and Jordan Howard found their groove against the Packers. It was nice to see the running game take some pressure off the passing game for once.
Howard actually took more carries with 15 for 87 yards (5.8 average) and two touchdowns. Sanders logged 11 carries for 72 yards (6.5 average). Sanders didn’t log a reception while Howard had three for 28 yards and one score.
Howard’s physical, no-nonsense running style is serving him well. He’s often gaining yards instead of taking losses. His tough running was especially on display in the red zone, where he fought through contact. It’s clear the Eagles like Howard over Sanders once they get close to the goal line.
Sanders is the bigger big play threat, as evidenced by his 30-yard run. On that play, it would’ve been nice to see Sanders make the last line of defense miss. The rookie running back has left meat on the bone at times. Still, it was a strong showing by Sanders and there’s reason to be excited about his potential. His 67-yard kickoff return was a spark the Eagles needed after falling down 10-0.
These two backs can really complement each other well.
Miles Sanders on himself and Jordan Howard: “He brings the power, I bring the speed.”— Jimmy Kempski (@JimmyKempski) September 27, 2019
7 - This defense sure isn’t great but it can be good enough
Aaron Rodgers combined for 468 total yards of offense (422 passing and 46 rushing) against the Eagles’ defense. Not ideal. The Packers moved the ball way with too little resistance. A myriad of defensive penalties — including Derek Barnett’s dumb late hit on Jamaal Williams — only compounded the struggles.
But for all their maddening faults, Jim Schwartz’s defense ultimately made some pretty big plays in this game.
Barnett strip-sacking Aaron Rodgers and Brandon Graham recovering was a HUGE play that allowed the Eagles to go up 21-13.
Forcing the Packers to turn the ball over after reaching 1st-and-goal from the 1-yard line was quite the feat.
And then, of course, the Eagles were to put the game away with Nigel Bradham’s interception.
I think it’s safe to say we know the Eagles’ 2019 defense isn’t going to be a lockdown unit. Far from it. Their struggles can be mitigated by big plays, though. That’s going to have to be their formula for success on that side of the ball.
8 - Cornerback and defensive tackle depth is being tested for the second year in a row
The Eagles entered this game with four healthy corners on the 53-man roster: Sidney Jones, Rasul Douglas, Avonte Maddox, and Craig James. Jones suffered a hamstring early in the game after mightily struggling on defense. Then Maddox took a hit to the head from his own teammate — Andrew Sendejo — that caused him to be stretchered off the field and sent to the hospital. So, the Eagles were down to just Douglas and James by the end of the game.
The Eagles entered this game with just three healthy defensive tackles: Fletcher Cox, Hassan Ridgeway, and Akeem Spence. Cox limped off the field on the Packers’ final drive but did come back in. The Eagles will hope he’s not seriously banged up.
It’s just crazy to me how the Eagles are facing a ton of injuries at these positions for the second year in a row. Bad luck.
9 - The Eagles could really use Jalen Ramsey
Again, the Eagles have just TWO healthy corners on their roster right now. They need help. Acquring Ramsey wouldn’t just give the Eagles a much-needed body; he’d provide a big boost to a struggling secondary.
Acquiring Ramsey won’t be cheap, especially given that the Eagles have even less leverage due to the corner injuries. The Jaguars know the Eagles really need him.
But what are the Eagles’ alternatives here? They’re not great, that’s what.
10 - Nigel Bradham has the best hands in the NFL
See? I was always confident in Bradham’s catching ability. I definitely didn’t tweet this right after he droppd that pick six.
Nigel Bradham is qualified to play wide receiver for the Eagles.— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) September 27, 2019
Seriously, though, great job by Bradham to actually catch the ball for once and seal a huge win for the Eagles.
11 - Craig James is an incredibly unlikely hero
The Eagles really didn’t want James to play defensive snaps for them in this game. The practice squad call-up only got playing time after both Jones and Maddox got hurt. With no other choice but to play him, the Eagles stuck James out there on goal-to-go territory for the Packers.
And he responded in Malcolm Butler fashion by breaking up Rodgers’ pass to create a tipped interception for Bradham. Pretty insane.
If nothing else, James will always have this one big moment.
12 - Miscellaneous
Some leftover quick thoughts I’ll throw into this secton since it’s 4:33 AM ET and I’m already at 1,748 words.
- Sendejo made some big plays tonight, including a pass breakup that prevented a touchdown. But he continues to be a liability at times. Frustrating.
- Nelson Agholor saw just one target and had zero receptons tonight. He can’t lose you the game if you don’t give him the chance!
- The Eagles continue to be pretty good at stopping the run but they’re terrible at stopping the pass. Maybe the Eagles should actually try to encourage teams to run a little more?
Here’s a supportive read via Dr. Ed Feng (@thepowerrank) that shows how allowing offenses to have at least some level of rushing success against your defense can actually be a +EV approach: https://t.co/i3oZ9WiJSP— Evan Silva (@evansilva) September 24, 2019
- Shouldn’t come as a surprise but Jeffery didn’t look 100% in this game. He deserves credit for toughing it out but the Eagles will hope he can be healthier moving forward.
- Rodney McLeod might be the Eagles’ most underrated player through four games. Quietly having a real good season. Broke up a touchdown pass to Jimmy Graham during the Packers drive that ended up in a turnover on downs from the 1-yard line.
- Daeshon Hall actually got some playing time! More, please.
- Josh Sweat had a good run stuff.
- The Eagles continue to start way too slow. They have just 10 first quarter points in four games ... and all of those came in Week 3.
13 - You would hate to see a Cowboys loss to the Saints on Sunday
You really would just hate to see the Cowboys drop to 3-1 by losing to the Saints in New Orleans on Sunday Night Football.
Fortunately for the Cowboys, there’s zero chance they lose. Teddy Bridgewater isn’t good enough to beat Dallas.
The Cowboys will definitely be 4-0 after Sunday. The Eagles will not be able to make up any ground on them in the NFC East standings.
Incredible!— BleedingGreenNation (@BleedingGreen) September 27, 2019