Eagles-Packers: What we learned
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The Philadelphia Eagles, with quarterback Nick Foles, are a team on the rise.
The Green Bay Packers, without quarterback Aaron Rodgers, are a team in danger of sinking out of the NFC playoff race.
The Eagles did not have the ball for long, but they had it long enough to connect for three big plays to defeat the Packers 27-13 on Sunday.
Foles threw two long touchdown passes to wide receiver Riley Cooper and another to wide receiver DeSean Jackson, and running back LeSean McCoy had 155 of the Eagles' 204 rushing yards. Philadelphia has won two in a row to improve to 5-5, including a stunning 5-1 on the road.
"It feels good to get the win," Foles said. "It was another great team win. We just have to keep moving but I felt good out there, felt like the guys were doing a great job. Receivers were making some good plays and helping me out. It was a good win."
Foles' big plays were enough against the Packers (5-4), who were at a rare quarterbacking disadvantage and lost back-to-back home games for the first time since 2008.
From 1992 through the first eight games of 2013, the Packers used only Brett Favre, Rodgers and Matt Flynn as starting quarterbacks. With Rodgers out with a broken collarbone, 33-year-old Seneca Wallace made his first start since Jan. 1, 2012. Wallace, however, lasted just one series after injuring his groin and was replaced by Scott Tolzien, who was called up from the practice squad on Wednesday.
Tolzien completed 24 of 39 passes for 280 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions in his first career regular-season action. He will start next week against the New York Giants, giving the Packers their third starter in as many weeks after a run of almost unparalleled quarterback stability. Only two starts by Flynn interrupted the 22 years of Favre and Rodgers.
"We're running plays he hasn't even practiced yet," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said of Tolzien, an undrafted free agent in 2011 out of Wisconsin who was released by the San Francisco 49ers after their final cuts this summer.
What the Packers said
"I don't necessarily buy into the whole notion of (teams) always have to rally around the quarterback. I think I can give you a pretty clear picture of that. I understand the importance of the quarterback position, but it was important for everybody to go out and do their job today and play the best that they can and do the little things. There's a lot of fundamental issues we had on the field today, and that's really what we tried to stress as a football team going into it. Everybody just needs to do their job and do it the best they can, and we would win the game, and I felt that in my heart. And if we would have been able to accomplish that, I think we would have gotten that done." -- Coach Mike McCarthy.
"We've got to win. That's where we go. Obviously, we have two losses (in a row), but if you look at how we lost, we still have a chance in the fourth quarter, and we weren't able to get off the field. You look at the Chicago game with them running the clock down, and this game as well where we're within reach. Obviously, we're going to put that on our hat, my hat, to do a better job of forcing the three-and-out, stopping them, getting the ball back to our offense and giving us a chance to score. We've got to come out and get this win -- we're 5-4 right now -- but we need to come out and get this win next week. We'll be playing an improved Giants team." -- Linebacker Clay Matthews.
What the Eagles said
"His confidence level is sky high right now. The blessed thing about us is that we have two starting quarterbacks in Mike Vick and Nick Foles, so when (Foles) came in, we didn't look at him as a backup, we looked at him like a starter and he's been playing like it. He's controlling the offense, making the right calls and making the right reads." -- Running back LeSean McCoy, on quarterback Nick Foles.
"I think it speaks a lot about the depth, and you have to have it. It's a tough, hard-nosed, physical game and everybody needs to be ready to play at any point in time. When you only have 46 guys active on game day, you've got to go, and that's what the deal is all about. But I thought the guys that stepped up and came in did a really nice job." -- Coach Chip Kelly, on losing linebacker Mychal Kendricks, safety Earl Wolff and star left tackle Jason Peters in the first quarter.
What we learned about the Eagles
1. Nick Foles is no longer the Eagles' quarterback of the future. He's their quarterback of today. Coach Chip Kelly inherited Foles, and some outsiders thought Foles wasn't a good fit for Kelly's style of offense. Foles's stats this season: 16 touchdown passes, no interceptions. He is 4-1 in games in which he started or played extensively. "He did a really nice job (Sunday)," Kelly said. "They put us in a lot of man coverage, and one of the things you have to do is to be able to throw the ball over the top, and he did. We took advantage of that."
2. Wide receiver Riley Cooper is becoming a key in the Eagles' talented offense. He is a big-play performer. He caught three passes for 102 yards against the Packers, giving him 29 catches for 462 yards over the past five games. "He's showing you what he's always been," Foles said. "I believe in Riley, and it just so happens that when I'm reading our plays, he's getting open and making plays. He's a big, physical receiver, and I love the fact that he does a great job blocking and he's a team player."
What we learned about the Packers
1. The Packers are in need of a closer. They have been outscored 83-46 in the fourth quarter this season. While they outscored the Eagles 3-0 in the fourth Sunday, Philadelphia ran out the final 9:32 with one killer drive. The week before, Chicago drained 8:58 and left the Packers with just 50 seconds. It is a continuation from the Week 1 loss at San Francisco, when the 49ers bled all but 26 seconds of the final 4:52. "I'm disappointed, and I'm disappointed as the head coach of this team because we have a reoccurring issue that I have to get fixed," Mike McCarthy said.
2. Ready or not, the Scott Tolzien "era" is under way. Amazingly, other than a game started by Matt Flynn in 2010 due to injury and a game started in 2011 to rest Aaron Rodgers in a meaningless regular-season finale, Brett Favre and Rodgers started every game at quarterback since Favre became the starter early in 1992. Now, with Rodgers out due to a broken collarbone and Sunday's starter, Seneca Wallace, nursing a groin injury, Tolzien will be the third starter in as many weeks when he takes the first snap on the road against the New York Giants next week. Tolzien played well Sunday, considering he spent most of his first nine weeks in Green Bay running the scout team, but he threw an end-zone interception in the second quarter on what should have been a touchdown to Jordy Nelson. "You always start with where you can get better, and there's specific plays that you wish you had back," Tolzien said. "The first one you think about is the pick in the end zone. We had an awesome opportunity there and got a good look for the play we were running, really an ideal look, and looking back on that throw I should have probably thrown it more back pylon. I could have thrown a better ball. Well, could have? Should have. You learn from that and try not to make that same mistake again."