GREEN BAY—Last week, the problem for the Packers’ defense was allowing too many long, sustained drives.
On Sunday at Lambeau Field, the Eagles added big plays to the equation, and the result was a double whammy defensively in a 27-13 loss to Philadelphia.
Known for their explosion on offense, the Eagles racked up eight plays of 20 yards or more, including three touchdown passes of 55, 45 and 32 yards. Philadelphia then capped the game with a clock-killing, 15-play drive that drained the final 9 minutes, 32 seconds off the clock.
“We haven’t been playing to our standard the last two weeks, particularly today,” defensive lineman B.J. Raji said. “The only people who are going to help us are ourselves.”
The offense also needed the help when down to its third-string quarterback, and that offense was playing from behind all game, mostly thanks to the three long TD throws by Eagles QB Nick Foles.
The first two were actually underthrown passes the Packers should have defended. On the 55-yarder to DeSean Jackson in the first quarter, cornerback Tramon Williams and safety Morgan Burnett were both in position to make the play, and both went up for the deep ball along with Jackson.
With Williams looking to cradle the ball with both arms, it appeared Burnett’s hand deflected the ball off Williams’ facemask, and it deflected into Jackson’s hands for the TD as he landed on his feet and the two Packers went crashing to the ground.
“Fluke plays. It happens in the league,” Williams said. “Two guys competing for the ball, me and Morgan, and it happens, man. It’s unfortunate, but it happens.”
Early in the third quarter, a 45-yard TD to Riley Cooper was the result of the opposite – two Packers defenders not playing the ball, and perhaps not finding it in the sun.
Cooper had a step on cornerback Davon House and safety M.D. Jennings was late getting deep to help. Foles’ pass was so far underthrown that Cooper stopped his route, ran sideways and cut underneath both defenders to make a diving catch while tumbling across the goal line untouched.
The final long TD also went to Cooper, from 32 yards on an inside-out move along the left sideline. Burnett stumbled as Cooper feigned the in-cut and was wide open on the outside.
“He sold his double move,” Burnett said. “I bit on the first move and he sold his route. It was a good throw and catch.”
It was the sixth completion of 20-plus for Foles, who threw for 228 yards and the three TDs on just 12 completions for a 149.3 passer rating. LeSean McCoy added two runs of 20-plus, giving the Eagles 251 of their 415 yards on those eight snaps.
“They had three big plays for touchdowns, and we need to come up and be difference-makers back there – intercept the ball, do a better job getting pressure on the quarterback, and overall I think it could have been different,” said outside linebacker Clay Matthews, who made an uneventful return after a four-game absence, playing with a club on his right hand.
“But that’s how it goes and, hopefully, we’ll right the ship.”
The one glimmer of hope defensively came in the fourth quarter, when Mike Daniels sacked Foles and Williams stripped the ball before Foles was down and recovered it at the Eagles’ 13-yard line. The Packers needed a replay challenge to get the call -- the defense's first turnover in the last three games -- but the offense didn’t take advantage, turning it over on downs with 9:32 left.
The game then ended with an indignity similar to six days prior, when the Bears killed 8:58 off the clock in the fourth quarter. In that game, the Packers didn’t get the ball back until the final minute. This time, the Eagles did the Bears 34 seconds better and never gave it back.
“As a defense, the last couple of weeks for sure we haven’t been accountable to our offense and haven’t really helped them out,” linebacker A.J. Hawk said. “They’ve been helping us out forever it seems like. We got a little life with the sack-fumble toward the end, but we have to find a way to keep making those plays happen.
“We need to stand up as a defense, for sure.”
Instead, Philadelphia ran the ball on 11 of 12 snaps and picked up six first downs before kneeling three times after the two-minute warning. McCoy finished with 25 carries for 155 yards to push the Eagles over 200 yards rushing on the day.
“The last two weeks you need the ball back for your offense, and it just seemed whatever they ran worked,” Raji said. “I’ve never been a part of something like this.
“When you play below your standard, it’s hard to swallow.” Complete game coverage