The Eagles almost lost control of a game that they seemingly had a firm grasp of Sunday night against the Green Bay Packers at Lincoln Financial Field.
Once again, the Eagles leaned heavily on their offensive line to do the grimy work, pounding the Packers for 363 yards rushing—including an Eagles’ quarterback franchise single-game record 157 yards rushing from Jalen Hurts—in a 40-33 victory.
The Eagles retain hold of the best record in the NFL with a 10-1 mark, while probably ending the postseason possibilities for Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers, who fell to 4-8.
The 363 yards rushing was the second most in franchise history, coming only behind the 1948 NFL champion Eagles, who rushed for a single-game franchise record 376 yards in a 42-21 win over Washington on Nov. 21, 1948.
Hurts’ 157 came on 17 carries, a good percentage of which were on third down. He rambled through the Packers for over 100 yards in the first quarter, becoming the only quarterback in the NFL to rush for 100 yards or more in a quarter in 30 years.
The last time the Eagles were 10-1 was in 2017, when they went on to win Super Bowl LII.
There was a lot of good, some bad, sprinkled with a few touches of ugly in the Eagles’ 40-33 victory over the Green Bay Packers on Sunday night.
Right tackle Lane Johnson, right guard Isaac Seumalo, center Jason Kelce, left guard Landon Dickerson and left tackle Jordan Mailata, and tight ends Jack Stoll and Grant Calcaterra. They combined to torch, maul and gouge the Green Bay defense for 363 yards rushing and 500 yards in total offense. When they had to salt the game away, they ran the ball 18 times of their 22 fourth-quarter plays and never gave the Packers a chance to get back on the field.
Kicker Jake Elliott nailing the 54-yard field goal with 2:16 remaining to play to seal the victory.
Linebacker Haason Reddick and defensive end Brandon Graham sacking Rodgers for a five-yard loss at the 50 on a third-and-seven on the Packers’ first possession of the second half.
Receiver Quez Watkins ending the half on a 30-yard TD reception on an underthrown pass with :13 left. Watkins had man-to-man coverage against former Eagle Rasul Douglas. Watkins turned on the ball at the right time, while Douglas overran Watkins.
Receiver A.J. Brown’s 19-yard reception on a third-and-six at the Eagles’ 33 with less than two minutes left in the half. The catch preserved the drive, which eventually ended to Hurts’ TD pass to Watkins. Brown later hauled in a six-yard TD pass in the third quarter that put the Eagles up, 34-20.
Sacks by tackle Fletcher Cox and defensive end Josh Sweat on the Packers’ last drive of the half gave the Eagles possession with time remaining to do something. It also pushed the Packers far enough back to give the Eagles decent field position.
Receiver DeVonta Smith’s sliding 17-yard catch on a first-and-10 at the Eagles’ 22 with 11:12 left in the half. It looked like it was going to get the Eagles’ offense going after a hot start. Smith later made a 13-yard reception on a third-and-14 at the Eagles’ 48. The play put the Eagles in position to keep the drive alive, which resulted in the Watkins’ 30-yard TD reception. Smith’s 14-yard reception in between two Packers converted a third down on a third-and-12 at the Packers’ 19 with 8:26 left in the third quarter.
Safety Reed Blankenship, playing in place of the injured C.J. Gardner-Johnson, stepping up with the first interception of his NFL career on a first-and-10 at the Eagles’ 28 with 11:12 left in the half. He had only played two snaps prior to the pick. Blankenship made a great break on a pass intended for tight end Tyler Davis.
Miles Sanders’ single-season career high seventh touchdown on a 15-yard run in the second quarter, giving the Eagles a 13-0 lead. He finished with two touchdowns and 143 yards rushing on 21 carries, averaging 6.8 yards a carry. There were times when Sanders was five yards beyond the line of scrimmage before anyone touched him.
Lane Johnson’s kickout block on the Packers’ right defensive end Jarran Reed on Sanders’ 15-yard, first-quarter TD. Johnson pulled left and rammed into Reed. Sanders saw the open space and ran right through. Left tackle Jordan Mailata also deserves big credit, making Packers’ outside linebacker Preston Smith look like a turnstile on the play.
Nickel corner Josiah Scott’s first career interception that ricocheted off of fellow corner Darius Slay’s head on the Packers’ first possession. The play was possible with pressure from defensive tackle Javon Hargrave.
Hurts in the opening quarter. He rushed for 52 yards on the first series, with a huge play coming on third-and-10 at the Eagles’ 25, when he took off up the middle for 24 yards. Later on the drive, on a third-and-six at the Packers’ 34, Hurts took off right up the middle again, for 28 yards to the Packers’ six. The Eagles rushed for 155 yards in the first quarter, 103 came from Hurts on seven carries. Hurts became the only quarterback to rush for over 100 yards in a quarter in 30 years. His last carry of the quarter, however, came at a price when he was drilled by Packers’ linebacker Kingsley Enagbare in the ribs. Hurts’ mouthpiece went flying, and he walked gingerly back to the Eagles’ sideline as the final seconds of the quarter wound down. Hurts had runs of 24, 28 and 42 yards in the first quarter. Hurts ended the half with 126 yards on 10 carries. He finished the game with 157 yards on 17 carries.
Left guard Landon Dickerson’s false start on second-and-goal at the Packers’ one, pushing the Eagles back to the six with 7:43 left in the third.
Blankenship called for a personal foul on a first-and-10 at the Packers’ 25 with 7:15 left in the third quarter. He knocked helmets making a tackle on Green Bay’s Christian Watson after an 11-yard catch. It was a rare mistake on what was an otherwise very strong game by the undrafted rookie free agent out of Middle Tennessee.
Elliott’s missed extra point after Sanders’ 15-yard touchdown in the second quarter. It was Elliott’s second missed extra point this season.
The Eagles’ special teams on Keisean Nixon’s 53-yard kickoff return with just over two minutes to play. A breakdown of the return shows a huge running lane, left open by K’Von Wallace on the outside, while Nakobe Dean, Zech McPhearson and Kyron Johnson got stuck out of position inside. A special teams mishap seems like it will haunt this team and possibly lead to the ruin of a special season, unless it gets addressed with what’s left of the regular season.
Safety Marcus Epps losing Aaron Jones in the back of the end zone on Rodgers’ 23-yard touchdown pass with 7:41 left in the half. Fortunately, Mason Crosby missed the extra point. Epps later got beat by Watson on a 63-yard TD reception with 9:00 left to play, pulling the Packers to within 37-30.
Receiver A.J. Brown fumbling for the second-straight week with 8:38 left in the half. Just when it looked like the Eagles would go up two scores, Brown was stripped by the Packers’ Rudy Ford at the Green Bay 22 on a third-and-eight. What may have been worse was the sloppy way the Eagles tried tracking down Packers’ linebacker Quay Walker, who seemed to be looking for a place to flop during his 63-yard fumble return. The real exclamation point came when Lane Johnson ran into the twisting, turning Jordan Mailata at the Eagles’ 28 trying to tackle Walker. It was hilarious. Mailata and Johnson, however, may not be laughing when they watch the replay with the rest of the team during film sessions.
Scott getting burned on an inside route by Randall Cobb on the Packers’ 11-yard TD from Rodgers with 3:09 left in the first quarter.
Nick Sirianni’s choice to go for it so early in a game in which the Eagles started so well. With 4:50 left in the first quarter, why go for it on fourth-and-inches at the Eagles’ 37? Why take that chance then and kill the momentum? The Eagles got no push. It was a poor exchange between Jason Kelce and Hurts. Green Bay answered with the go-ahead score. It gave the Packers new life—and in the process, took the crowd temporarily out of the game. The Eagles went from a 13-0 lead with 9:02 left in the first quarter, to trailing 14-13 with 3:09 left in the quarter. The Eagles lost Gardner-Johnson on the Packers’ ensuing drive.
The way defensive tackles Milton Williams and Ndamukong Suh got sealed off, creating a gaping hole on A.J. Dillon’s 20-yard touchdown run with 6:40 left in the first quarter, pulling the Packers to within 13-7. Williams got pushed around pretty good last week by the Indianapolis Colts.
Joseph Santoliquito is an award-winning sportswriter based in the Philadelphia area who has written feature stories for SI.com, ESPN.com, NFL.com, MLB.com, Deadspin and The Philadelphia Daily News. In 2006, he was nominated for an Emmy Award for a special project piece for ESPN.com called “Love at First Beep.” He is most noted for his award-winning ESPN.com feature on high school wrestler A.J. Detwiler in February 2006, which appeared on SportsCenter. In 2015, he was elected president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.