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Packers win, but "Splash" Plays Still Being left on the Field

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Packers win, but "Splash" Plays Still Being left on the Field

The City of Brotherly Love was all but brotherly last night when the Packers handed the hometown team their sixth loss of the season.

It was just the fourth time Packers' quarterback Aaron Rodgers had seen the Eagles in the regular season during his 12-year career. Had he avoided a collarbone injury that sidelined him for nearly half of the 2013 season, Monday night would've been the fifth. But in Philadelphia, it was like Rodgers had never missed a step.

He put together his fourth 300-yard performance in the last six games - a stretch where Rodgers has been nearly flawless. However, the Packers have gone 1-4 in that span and just picked up their first win last night, just in time to make a possible push into the playoff conversation.

Green Bay's offense ranks 11th in terms of points per game after their win and head coach Mike McCarthy has all but briefly silenced his critics. He's managed to turn the offensive production back into a well-oiled machine after a rocky start to the season. In their first five games, the Packers averaged 331.8 yards per game in a time where they went 3-2 through those games. Ever since, the next six games offer a sampling size that shows the Packers averaging 392.5 total yards. Nevertheless, they went 2-4.

Offensive woes have been cured, the only problems that still reside is the lack of a rushing attack and the slow starts that have left the Packers falling behind the opposition early in games. While they may have put together 14 points in the first 15:07 against the Eagles, it may be smart to avoid putting all of your eggs in one basket just yet.

On the opposite side of the ball, the Packers' defense is coming off of a game in which they what was once a 14th-ranked offense to just 13 points at home. Given how poorly they've performed in the prior four weeks, that's a cause for celebration in Green Bay.

Cornerback Damarious Randall made his return while fellow skill position defender Demetri Goodson made his exit last week, likely for the year. Holding Carson Wentz and co. to 13 points is nice and all, but the Packers' defense still couldn't finish plays and it nearly cost them in multiple facets.

Down 31-26 against the Colts three weeks prior, the bellowing cheers ringing through Lambeau Field heated up on a third and 10 with just over three minutes left in the game. A stop would give the Packers the ball back, a conversion would ultimately end the game and hand them their second loss in a row. Safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix rushed off the edge on a well-timed safety blitz - but to no avail. While Colts' quarterback Andrew Luck stepped up in the pocket, Clinton-Dix got both arms around his target, but couldn't wrap up and finish. Instead, he flung off the side of Luck and ended up on the turf. Luck, meanwhile, completed a 20-yard pass to his tight end Jack Doyle.

Similar plays were left on the field in Philadelphia.

After bottling up the previous run call, the Eagles faced a second and 12 and given the circumstances, an obvious passing situation. Wentz ran play-action and Letroy Guion split the gap to rush in the face of the rookie quarterback with ease. Nick Perry and Datone Jones both rushed the edges beautifully, but rather than stunting back inside, both attempted to hold outside leverage, giving Wentz a free lane to step up into the pocket and run. That's exactly what he did, resulting in an eight-yard gain.

Luckily for the Packers' defense, they were able to get off the field a play later and force a punt. The failed blitz was less-than-magnified considering the abrupt end to the drive.

Later in the second quarter, the Packers were in danger of surrendering points before halftime for what felt like umpteenth time in 2016. Aided by a traditional McCarthy timeout that was called in hopes that the defense could come up with a third down halt and get the ball back with a scoring opportunity before the half, the Eagles faced a third and 6. A down and distance that was once third and 11, thanks to a neutral zone infraction penalty on Perry.

What followed was an uninspired chase from Matthews, who was battling a shoulder injury suffered early in the game, and a missed tackle from Randall, who was shaking off the evident rust during his five-game absence. Both dismal efforts resulted in Wentz scrambling for 17 yards and a first down, prolonging a drive that resulted in a field goal.

Another example came on the Eagles' first drive of the fourth quarter. On a third and 10, Wentz managed to elude both Jones and Julius Peppers, somehow spinning away from both of them and scrambling for seven yards. Naturally, that would bring up an oncoming fourth down - until the officials called a facemask penalty on Peppers, netting the Eagles first down.

It's small miscues like the aforementioned ones that could ultimately come back to bite a team in the rear-end. Fortunately for the Packers, who are clinging by a thread in the division race, that wasn't the case last night. It's a reoccurring theme that has been seen all season, but hope remains that the Packers can get it right in time for what may be their most important five-game stretch in recent memory.

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Zachary Jacobson is a staff writer/reporter for Cheesehead TV. He's the voice of The Leap on iTunes and can be heard on The Scoop KLGR 1490 AM every Saturday morning. He's also a contributor on the Pack-A-Day Podcast. He can be found on Twitter via @ZachAJacobson or contacted through email at [email protected].

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (9) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Chad Lundberg's picture

I don't give a care in the world as long as they play sound football first. If they keep their opponents passing total to less 225 a game, and running yards less than 100 game, I can live with never or rarely getting a sack or a turnover.

Razer's picture

A complete and consistent game from start to finish (and Aaron Rodgers) was my hope going into Philly. I can live with your formula.

croatpackfan's picture

Zach, I think this is just a small rock in someone's shoe. Those things happens. That very good D, especially DL from Eagles was jucked twice by Aaron Rodgers scrambling and Brandon Graham got penalized on 3rd down for roughing the passer when he hits Aaron, who released the ball at last moment to avoid sack. That penalty might not been called, too.
When you kept the offense to 13 points and that offense were scoring average 27 points at home (so Packers kept them at less than 50% of their average scores), you can not be to critical. I will agree that Packers D had lot of help from long offensive possessions, but nevertheless. Do not forget, same Eagles destroyed Steelers 34-3!
We should injoy this W, and we all have to be aware that our D has better ranking that they deserve, but good thing is that there can be significant improvement on both side of the ball - on O there may be huge improvement in TE and RB play, on D at every aspect but safety!

Lphill's picture

There has to be a veteran DB out there somewhere that the Packers can pick up for the remainder of the season at least having someone with more experience can't hurt.

Handsback's picture

I consider the Eagle's game as Karma payback. (Never sure I believe in karma, but people understand what I'm talking about even when I don't) The Packers have played so many games where they were short on DBs, RBs, and LBs that it was time where they played a team that had their playmakers out and the Packers were able to take advantage of that.
I'm skeptical of the Packer's ability to win a lot more games. The teams they play will be very disciplined and have enough playmakers available to cause trouble for the still hurting Packer's defense.

Razer's picture

Measured optimism - I am with you. Let's see what this offense can do against two real good defenses like Texas and Seattle. And let's see what this defense can do against teams that can get deep and run the ball.

Since '61's picture

Zach - I was also frustrated by the two Perry neutral zone infractions, which helped to keep two Eagle drives alive. However, I think what frustrates many of us here is that these types of plays have occurred for years. You mentioned Dix failing to finish the sack on Luck. There's also the failure to cover Larry Fitzgerald in OT in the 2015 playoffs, plus at least 3 dropped picks. Dix failure to knock down the 2 point conversion against Seattle in the 2014 NFCG, not to mention the other failures at the end of the game. Hyde dropping the likely game winning pick against SF in the 2013 playoffs. We can go on and on. Almost all of the near misses that have cost this team dearly have been on the defense. We have been one play away in so many games, going all the way back to 4th and 26 against Philly. Those plays are glossed over when we win, especially when we win solidly as we did against the Eagles on Monday night. But they leave the lingering doubts about biting us in a big game and for the last 4-5 seasons it has. Maybe this is the year when some of those plays break our way. Plenty of football left. Thanks, Since '61

croatpackfan's picture

Since, one of those two Perry's neutral zone infractions was basically Mike Daniels neutral zone infraction... Referee's Just misses right number ... You shouold look at game again!

Tundraboy's picture

Ouch that 4 and 26 play. Thought of that in last
3 minutes of 2nd half Monday. We sure are due.

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