Three games in and the natives were understandably restless.
A team that looked like it had the talent to make a run at another Super Bowl had stumbled to two consecutive losses against mediocre competition, and faced an uphill battle having to go to Green Bay on a short week against the Packers.
And when the Pack got off to an early 10-0 lead, that uphill climb seemed more like climbing Mount Everest. Aaron Rodgers, after all, was only 59-0 when his team held a double digit lead at Lambeau Field.
Perhaps the 2019 Eagles, much like the 2019 Phillies, were merely overrated and didn’t have the talent to live up to the hype that was bestowed upon them. Perhaps Doug Pederson won the Superbowl during the 2017 season because he had Frank Reich as his offensive coordinator, and with Reich moving on to the head coaching job with the Colts last season, all of Pederson’s flaws would now be exposed.
But following the Packers early ten point lead, things began to change when Miles Sanders took the kickoff 67 yards, giving the Birds great field position at the Green Bay 34. The kickoff seemed to be the catalyst the team needed to awaken them from their slumber, as five plays later, they were in the end zone, cutting the lead to 10-7.
From then on, the Thursday night contest turned into a dogfight, with Philadelphia eventually taking a 21-20 and then a 34-27 lead for good with three minutes left in the third quarter.
But twice in the final 18 minutes of the game, Green Bay countered with long drives of 78 & 86 yards, respectively, which usually generates some points on the scoreboard for your team.
On the first of those drives, the Packers actually had 1st & Goal at the 1-yard line and looked to be in great shape to tie the game at the very least. But Green Bay coach Matt LaFleur must have thought that Halloween had arrived, as it was then that he decided to do his best Andy Reid impersonation and treat running the ball as if it was a felony. The result was the Packers coming up empty after four straight incomplete passes.
But while the Eagles, to their credit, managed to get out of the shadow of their end zone following their goal line stand, moving the ball 50 yards to the Green Bay 49 before having to punt, their inability to score on that drive meant that Aaron Rodgers would get one more shot at redemption.
The final 5:02 of that game seemed like an eternity, with the Delaware Valley watching on pins and needles and biting their nails like there was no tomorrow. But much like that magical 2017 season, when it seemed that someone would always step up to secure a victory in crunch time, it was the combination of linebacker Nigel Bradham, and little used cornerback Craig James (playing in only the 3rd defensive snap of his CAREER), who made the critical tackle on Packers wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling that resulted in the game-ending interception by Bradham.
But while the game was one for the ages, there are issues with this team that could linger for the near future.
For starters, Davante was having his way with Avonte all night (as in Packers wide receiver Davante Adams and Eagles cornerback Avonte Maddox). Adams ran roughshod, catching 10 passes for 180 yards before injuring his foot late in the game. Maddox will probably be out this week, considering he was in the injury protocal after the scary hit he took last Thursday. Add to that the fact that Ronald Darby is still out and starting cornerback Sidney Jones seems to be hurt every week, and the Birds may need their mascot Swoop to play cornerback this Sunday.
The Eagles also seem to have a bad habit of getting off to slow starts, falling behind by at least 10 points in all four of their games thus far. To their credit, they’ve come back to win two of them, but this trend can’t continue.
This week, the Birds come back home to face the NFL’s version of the “Little Sisters of the Poor”, the New York Jets. The Jets are not only bad, but they’re injured at the quarterback position, with their starting quarterback, Sam Darnold, still suffering from mononucleosis, and their backup QB, Trevor Siemian, out for the year.
With all their injuries, the quarterback duties will fall on 3rd stringer Luke Falk, who has not conjured up memories of Joe Namath based on his limited action thus far.
The Birds should win this game without much fanfare, 30-20. An easy win this week will be vital, since they will then embark on a tough three game road trip which will take them to Minnesota, Dallas, and Buffalo.
A win this week and two of three on the road would be ideal, as that would put them at 5-3 at the halfway point of their season.
As for the Jets quarterback, with a name like Luke Falk, I suspect that he could have a brilliant career on TV’s “General Hospital” should his NFL dreams not pan out.
The Last Word:
Aaron Rodgers 59-game winning streak when leading by double digits at home was the 2nd longest streak of its kind in the Super Bowl era.
The longest streak belongs to Tom Brady and the Patriots, who had an 80 game winning streak…until the Eagles beat them in Foxboro in 2015.
Amit’s Marquee Matchups of the Week (all games on Sunday and in EST unless noted otherwise):
Rams at Seahawks 8:20 PM (Thurs) FOX/NFL Network
Bills at Titans 1:00 PM CBS
Buccaneers at Saints 1:00 PM FOX
Packers at Cowboys 4:25 PM FOX
Colts at Chiefs 8:20 PM NBC