The Philadelphia Eagles defense wasn’t great on Thursday night. But it was good when it had to be, and caught a huge break at the end.
A huge goal-line stand in the fourth quarter and a big interception in the end zone by linebacker Nigel Bradham in the final 30 seconds sealed a much-needed 34-27 win for the Eagles over the Green Bay Packers on Thursday night. Aaron Rodgers tried to hit Marquez Valdes-Scantling on a slant route, Valdes-Scantling had the ball go off his chest and Bradham came up with the game-clinching interception in the end zone. It was reminiscent of the Seahawks throwing a goal-line interception to the Patriots’ Malcolm Butler in Super Bowl XLIX, questionable play-call included.
The Eagles needed a win after a home loss to the Detroit Lions dropped them to 1-2. They were in danger of letting the Cowboys open up a three-game lead in the NFC East. They allowed Rodgers to pass the ball up and down the field most of the night. The Eagles were out-gained 481-336 by Green Bay.
But the Eagles got the stops when they had to. They’re not going to apologize for any road win over a Packers team that was off to a 3-0 start.
Packers’ late drive comes up short
The Packers took over at their own 11 with a little more than five minutes remaining, trailing 34-27. They didn’t have star receiver Davante Adams, who suffered a toe injury in the fourth quarter and didn’t return. Adams had a huge night before the injury, with 10 catches and 180 yards. The Packers also couldn’t run the ball all night.
But they had Rodgers. The Packers quarterback slowly started marching Green Bay down the field. A huge pass-interference call on the Eagles helped the Packers on a third-down incompletion. Then the Packers got in the red zone on a catch by Valdes-Scantling, and inside the 10 on a catch by tight end Robert Tonyan with 1:06 to go.
Packers running back Aaron Jones ran to the 3-yard line on first down, then on second down disaster hit with the Bradham interception. It wasn’t the first time the Packers had troubles and questionable play-calling near the end zone.
With a little more than nine minutes left, the Packers got the ball to the Eagles’ 1-yard line. That’s when their inability to run the ball caught up with them.
The Packers tried four straight passes. The Eagles weren’t fooled by any play action because the Packers couldn’t run the ball. Jimmy Graham had a chance for two catches, including on fourth down, and couldn’t pull either in. Another play looked like a run-pass option, but was awkward from the start and Rodgers had to throw the ball away. The Eagles held, and held onto their 34-27 lead.
It was a regrettable play calling sequence from rookie head coach Matt LaFleur, no matter how poorly the Packers had run the ball to that point. He might regret not trying to to run the ball on second-and-goal in the final minute, too.
Eagles come through with win
Philadelphia’s offense had a solid night. Jordan Howard was the unexpected hero. He had more than 100 total yards, with three touchdowns. The trade with the Chicago Bears paid itself off in one night.
Carson Wentz had just 160 passing yards, but he threw three touchdowns with no interceptions. Like the Philadelphia defense, he came up with some clutch plays that made a huge difference in the outcome.
Philadelphia leaves Green Bay with its season in a lot better shape than if it had lost its third game in September. It wasn’t perfect, except when it had to be. And the Packers will have a long time before their next game to think about what went wrong.
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