Two beat-up, desperate teams, one undefeated at home and the other losers of four in a row. The Green Bay Packers, the latter of the teams in that scenario, controlled the game from the opening gun, beating the Philadelphia Eagles 27-13 to keep their season alive.
The simplest way to look at this game is the Packers improved to 5-6, stayed two games back of the Detroit Lions for the division lead and thus, kept their slim payoff hopes alive.
There’s still a long way to go, but the Packers managed to do a number of things on Monday night that they haven’t done in a while, besides win.
We’ll start with the fact that they put together a solid four quarters of offense, the first time they’ve done so all season.
The Packers put up points in all four quarters, largely by using their short passing game and the occasional big play. The big plays came courtesy of Aaron Rodgers (30-of-39, 313 yards, 2 TDs) and Davante Adams, who had five catches for 113 yards and two touchdowns.
The Packers ran just 26 times for 76 yards, with James Starks turning in a plodding, lackluster 17 carries for 41 yards, a 2.4 average. However, it was noteworthy that the Packers had their first rushing touchdown by a running back this season — a 1-yard counter by fullback Aaron Ripkowski in the fourth that gave the Packers a 24-13 lead.
Minus the nonexistent running game, this is the consistent performance we’ve been looking for from the Packers’ offense all season. Most impressively, the Packers were 10 for 14 on third down, one for one on fourth down, they didn’t turn the ball over and dominated the time of possession (35:23 to 24:37).
The Packers’ defense is what had to get it done though, isn’t it?
On this night, they did. It certainly was helpful that the Eagles lost probably their only serviceable wide receiver — Jordan Matthews — early in the game and played without their top running back — Ryan Matthews.
That left Eagles’ quarterback Carson Wentz with running back Darren Sproles and tight end Zach Ertz as his only reliable playmakers.
Sproles was still an issue, but luckily, his biggest play was wiped out by a penalty.
The Packers didn’t exactly ring it up in the sack department, tallying two before a couple in garbage time ran the total to four. However, the pass rush did enough — largely through the blitz — to pressure Wentz into rushed or poor throws.
This clearly has to be the best game the Packers have played this season.
It was a complete game. Even punter Jacob Schum dropped a wedge shot of a punt down at the 1-yard line, while Mason Crosby kicked three field goals.
We’re not going to overreact to the win because frankly, why did it take the Packers until week 12 to put it together? Maybe they only plan on winning when they absolutely have to.
No room for error, but a definite reprieve from their death sentence.