If you’re looking for a scapegoat for the Packers’ sluggish season, it’s not Aaron Rodgers.
Rodgers was in rare form on Monday night. Despite a third quarter leg injury that forced the Packers to abandon all plays from under center, he still completed 30-of-39 passes for 313 yards and 2 touchdowns as Green Bay bested the Eagles, 27-13.
In his first game at Lincoln Financial Field since Green Bay’s 2010 NFC Wild Card victory over Philadelphia, Rodgers made a handful of throws that looked like they belonged in the magical postseason run that culminated with a victory in Super Bowl XLV.
The Eagles hadn’t allowed their opponents to score in the first quarter at home, but Green Bay’s offense started the game with a methodical drive. Rodgers threw six short passes on the opening drive and rushed for big gains twice. Driving the length of the field in 10 plays, the Packers scored on a 12-yard strike to Davante Adams.
Carson Wentz responded in kind, tossing four passes to receiver Dorial Green-Beckham for 53 yards. On the 81-yard drive, Wentz evened the score on a one-yard dive into the endzone on a bootleg right.
Rodgers’ passes were quick and on-time throughout the night. At the beginning of the second quarter, a vintage Aaron Rodgers dime threaded the needle through corner Nolan Carroll’s hands and into Davante Adams’ for the receiver’s second touchdown grab of the day.
Philadelphia’s defense struggled to get off the field on third downs. The Packers converted on 10 of 14 third downs, thanks in large part to a dominating performance by their offensive line. With rookie Jason Spriggs starting in place of T.J. Lang and Corey Linsley filling in for J.C. Tretter, the line gave Rodgers plenty of time all night to find the open man.
Monday night’s game was not without controversy. After a 12 play drive stalled in the second quarter, Jacob Schum lofted a beautiful punt that was downed at the one-yard line by Jayrone Elliott. Upon further inspection, however, Elliott’s right cleat appeared to graze the end zone line. Eagles coach Doug Pederson challenged, but the play stood as called.
Green Bay took a 14-10 lead into halftime. After a Wentz interception to Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Rodgers found Davante Adams for 50 yards. A 33-yard field goal by Mason Crosby extended their lead to 17-10.
On a third down scramble, Rodgers landed awkwardly on his left leg. Training staff attended to the star quarterback on the sidelines, and Rodgers appeared to play the remainder of the game with a padding on his left hamstring. His mobility was restricted, and McCarthy’s play calling featured only pistol and shotgun formations.
Davante Adams’ assault on the Eagles secondary continued with an excellent run after catch on a slant pattern when the Packers got the ball back. Adams finished the game with 5 receptions for 113 yards and 2 touchdowns.
- Aaron Ripkowski played like he knew Jon Gruden was watching from the ESPN booth. His touchdown run in the second half put the Packers up by double-digits, and his punishing running style was reminiscent of a Gruden favorite, Mike Alstott.
- Davante Adams continued to assert his dominance. Almost two-thirds of the way through the season, he is clearly the Packers’ best wide receiver. Whenever Aaron Rodgers makes a miraculous throw, Adams seems to be the beneficiary.
- Dom Capers dialed the right game plan to contain an average Eagles offense. Darren Sproles’ only big play was negated because of an offensive penalty, and Carson Wentz cooled off after a tremendous opening drive.
Water Cooler Talk
- Social media was buzzing about the Packers’ tent on the sidelines. ESPN’s Lisa Salters reported Rodgers ducked into the tent for some time after his leg injury, and came out with a protective pad on his left hamstring. Was it a deer blind? Was it an ice fishing shanty? According to A.J. Hawk, the tent is used for “bathroom breaks and privacy when you need trainers to wrap/check on injury.”
- When the Packers hit the road, their fans are a pretty easy bunch to pick on. The cheese grater is a popular foil to the cheesehead. An Eagles fan may have found the next best dig, though, coming to Lincoln Financial Field with a Philadelphia Cream Cheese-head.