Philadelphia Eagles vs. Green Bay Packers – Preseason Week 3
Eagles 39 – Packers 26
A trip to historic Lambeau Field usually means frozen tundra, Jordy Nelson and Aaron Rodgers. But, it’s August, Nelson is done for the year and Rodgers was not going to play. Either way, we were finally going to see Sam Bradford and Demarco Murray for more than just a few plays.
The special teams picked up where they left off. Raheem Mostert took the opening kick and returned it 67 yards to the Packers 38 yard line. From there Sam Bradford and the backfield took over. Demarco Murray took a screen pass for five yards to the right, followed with a five yard run up the middle, then a seven yard screen left and an eight yard run to the right. From the Green Bay 13, Ryan Mathews went left for five before Bradford showed tremendous touch, hitting Darren Sproles with a perfect pass over Packers linebacker Sam Barrington. At this point, Chip Kelly raised the curtain on the long-awaited Tim Tebow two-point conversion experiment. Tebow delayed, then ran up the middle where he was stopped short of the goal line. Eagles 6, Packers 0
Kip Smith blasted the ensuing kick-off through the end zone for a touch back. After two Eddie Lacy runs created a 3rd and 9 for the Pack, Randall Cobb appeared to make a first down grab along the left sideline. But, it was ruled incomplete and upheld upon further review. Cobb injured his right shoulder on the play. Bryan Braman got a hand on the punt and it was downed just past midfield.
From their own 45, the Birds started with Murray going for 7 off the right side and a 27 yard pass to Jordan Matthews at the Packers 21 on the left sideline. Then it was back to Murray for six yards up the middle and a crossing route to Matthews for seven more. On first-and-goal at the 8, Murray was stopped for no gain. Second down was a seven yard toss to Miles Austin that took them to the 1. “Ha Ha” Clinton Dix blew up Ryan Mathews on third down to set up a 4th-and-goal from the 3. Bradford hit Trey Burton on a well-conceived combination route along the goal line for the score. A second Tebow two-point attempt fell short when it was nearly intercepted. Eagles 12, Packers 0
Special teams aces Chris Maragos and Braman combined to stop Ty Montgomery short of the 20 on the return. John Starks got a single yard on first down and rookie QB Brett Hundley scrambled for 4 on second. On 3rd and 5, Hundley’s pass for Richard Rodgers was picked-off and returned for a high-stepping score by Walter Thurmond. By this point, Kelly was done with the experiment and sent Smith out to attempt the ridiculous new 33-yard PAT … he missed. Eagles 18, Packers 0
A Holding penalty on the kick return set up the Pack at their own 8-yard-line. Hundley hit Montgomery in stride on an in route that Montgomery quickly turned into a big play, sprinting up the right hashmarks for 52 yards. Green Bay managed only 7 more yards and settled for a 50-yard field goal attempt that clanked off of the right upright, no good.
Starting at their own 41, Bradford led Sproles with a perfect pass that the veteran back broke for 33 yards and the Birds were flying again. This was followed by a 17-yard pass to Matthews and a two-yard run by Murray. On 2nd & goal, Bradford whistled a pass to Brent Celek in the back of the end zone to complete his perfect night (10/10, 121 Yards, 3 TD). Smith converted the PAT. Eagles 25, Packers 0.
A decent return to the 26 was followed by a Holding call on first down. After Starks went for no gain, Hundley connected with Starks for 25 yards. The rookie QB then scrambled for six yards as the first quarter ended. Eagles 25, Packers 0
The first play of the second quarter was a 29 yard pass to Jeff Janis. A Roughing the Passer call on Brandon Graham moved the ball to the Eagles 12. Three plays later, Mychal Kendricks was flagged for Pass Interference in the end zone, which set up Starks 1-yard TD run. Crosby’s PAT was good. Eagles 25, Packers 7
Mark Sanchez assumed the reigns and his first drive started with a five yard run by Mathews and a 15-yard pass to Jeff Maehl, followed quickly by two short passes to top pick Nelson Agholor. At midfield, Sanchez was sacked for a 13 yard loss that was washed away by a Facemask penalty on Andy Mulumba. From there, the drive stalled as Sanchez continued his “Summer of Missing Wide Open Receivers”. Donnie Jones punt was downed at the five and moved deeper by a holding call on the Packers.
The Pack got out of the shadow of their goal posts on a 3rd down pass to Myles White. But, after Cedric Thornton’s sack fumble was recovered by Green Bay, Hundley missed on a third down throw to Andrew Quarless and the home team had to punt.
Sanchez started his second drive by missing a wide open Maehl down field. Ryan Mathews followed with an 8-yard catch and a 4-yard run to move the chains. After a short pass to Burton and a 3-yard run by Kenjon Barner, Packers defensive lineman B. J. Raji jumped offside on 3rd & 1. Another short pass to Mathews was followed by another short run by the free agent back. On 3rd & 5, Burton caught a short pass and lunged for the first down at the 19. A run by Barner didn’t get much. But, Sanchez then found Maehl crossing at the 6 yard line. The former Oregon Duck took it the rest of the way for the TD. Smith converted the PAT. Eagles 32, Packers 7
Hundley started to settle in … or maybe the Birds D eased up with a 25 point lead. Either way, the rookie from UCLA found some rhythm; an 18-yard pass to Rajion Neal, a 10-yard toss to Rodgers, again to Neal for 4 and then to White for 12. The drive was paid off on a 3rd & 10 check down to Neal that the rookie free agent out of Tennessee turned into a 36-yard TD with a sparkling run after the catch. Crosby’s kick was good. Eagles 32, Packers 14
Kelly and his offense had one minute and three timeouts. An Illegal Hands flag on the kick return had them starting at their own 8-yard line. Barner, the former Duck who has been turning heads for the last few weeks, took a middle screen and rocketed 50 yards across midfield. After passes to Austin and Maehl and a DPI on the Pack, the Birds were on the doorstep. A 2-yard TD run by Barner was nixed by an Illegal Formation. Unfazed, Sanchez hit Burton in the end zone for a 7-yard score. Smith took care of the PAT. Eagles 39, Packers 14
Barner was called for a Horse Collar tackle on the kick return. But, Green Bay opted to just decline it and head up the tunnel.
The third quarter was a parade of penalty flags, punts and players trying to not get cut. Matt Barkley had a few throws dropped in his first series. But, for the most part he wasn’t sharp. On the other side of the ball, E. J. Biggers seemed intent on making us all forget his solid performances against Indianapolis and Baltimore as he was repeatedly beaten for first down catches. Linebacker Najee Goode made the highlight play of the night early in the quarter when he crept up to the line and timed the snap exactly. Slipping deftly between the center and right guard, Goode throttled rookie free agent running back John Crockett as he took the handoff from Hundley resulting in a 5 yard loss.
Late in the quarter, Hundley connected with rookie tight end Kennard Backman for a score. The two-point try failed. Eagles 39, Packers 20
Matt Blanchard and Tim Tebow were under center for their respective teams in the fourth. But, both coaches seemed more intent on getting things over with than showcasing their 4th string QB’s. That notwithstanding, while the former Heisman Trophy winner Tebow failed to impress, the former Division III standout Blanchard effectively marched his team down the field twice. The first resulting in a touchdown pass to Janis. The second was cut short by a Randall Evans interception. Eagles 39, Packers 26
It’s hard to imagine a better evening for Bradford. His rating was just short of perfect, his decision making was sharp and his throws were accurate. Murray looked slow at times. But, as has been his calling card, he was still carrying tacklers and moving the pile forward. Most people will tell you that, because teams don’t specifically game plan in these games, the overwhelming success of the Birds offense could be misleading. Only time will tell on that.
Defensively, there is still not enough pressure on the opposing QB’s. Let’s hope that means Defensive Coordinator Billy Davis is keeping his more creative stunts and blitzes to himself until the lights go on in Atlanta in a few weeks. Kiko Alonzo was not dressed due to a leg issue that Kelly would not expound on, except to say that it was not related to the knee injury that cost him most of last season.
The preseason winds up with Thursday night’s tilt in East Rutherford with the Jets. Given Kelly’s tendency to keep his big guns off the field and the tendency throughout the league to rest starters in the final game of preseason, we may see some fans invited out of the crowd to take a few snaps.