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Green Bay Packers win with just 5 2nd-half plays in Philadelphia Eagles territory

Jan. 9, 2011
 
Green Bay Packers running back Brandon Jackson raises the ball as he runs into the end zone on a 16-yard touchdown pass during the third quarter of Sunday's NFC wild-card playoff game against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia. That drive was the last time the Packers were in Eagles territory. Evan Siegle/Press-Gazette
Green Bay Packers running back Brandon Jackson raises the ball as he runs into the end zone on a 16-yard touchdown pass during the third quarter of Sunday's NFC wild-card playoff game against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia. That drive was the last time the Packers were in Eagles territory. Evan Siegle/Press-Gazette

Staying home

Green Bay Packers playoff victories in which they ran the fewest plays in opponents' territory in the second half.

No. Opponent Date
5 Eagles Jan. 9, 2011
7 Lions Jan. 8, 1994
10 Browns Jan. 2, 1966
11 Giants Dec. 17, 1944
11 Rams Dec. 23, 1967
12 Cowboys Dec. 31, 1967

Driving on the wrong side

Green Bay Packers playoff victories in which their opponent ran the most plays in Green Bay’s territory in the second half.

No. Opponent Date
25 Eagles Jan. 9, 2011
24 Cardinals Jan. 8, 1983
23 Rams Dec. 23, 1967
23 Lions Dec. 31, 1994
23 49ers Jan. 6, 1996
20 Seahawks Jan. 4, 2004

More

Celebrate, Green Bay Packers fans, celebrate.

Green Bay’s 21-16 win over the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field was a welcome outcome for a team that’s had precious little success in the City of Brotherly Love over the last half century.

Welcome, and maybe a bit unexpected given the way the second half played out.

Scoring touchdowns on two of its first three possessions, Green Bay declined to run away with Sunday’s NFC wild-card game, instead turning it into a nail-biter. Once again the Packers’ defense rose to the occasion, most notably cornerback Tramon Williams who intercepted Eagles’ quarterback Michael Vick in the end zone on the second-to-last play of the game.

Two mistakes helped turn a potential rout into a close shave. The first was James Jones’ second-quarter drop of a bomb from quarterback Aaron Rodgers that likely would have put Green Bay up 21-3. The second was Juqua Parker’s recovery of a Rodgers fumble that Eagles quarterback Michael Vick used to close the gap 14-10 with a 24-yard touchdown toss early in the third quarter.

That turnover signaled a reversal. Instead of Green Bay operating beyond the 50 as it had done throughout much of the first half, it was Philadelphia’s turn to invade the far side of the field.

The Packers ran 21 of 32 first-half plays in Eagles’ territory, resulting in 87 yards and two scores.

The Eagles ran 25 of 35 second-half plays in Packers’ territory, resulting in 103 yards and two touchdowns. Meanwhile, Green Bay got off just five plays on Philadelphia’s side of the 50 after halftime.

Given that scenario, Green Bay was fortunate to prevail. Never before had the Packers won a postseason game in which it allowed an opponent so many shots on its side of the field in the second half while providing so few similar opportunities for itself.

Green Bay’s only second-half venture into enemy territory occurred shortly after Rodger’s costly miscue. James Starks gained 27 yards on three carries, fullback John Kuhn picked up 16 on a pass play and Rodgers found Brandon Jackson for another 16 yards and a touchdown as the Packers went up 21-10.

After that, Rodgers and Co. never strayed from their side of the field. The 11-point lead was in the hands of the defense.

Vick led his teammates into Packerland on each of the Eagles’ last four drives. A dropped pass by Jason Avant and a missed field goal by David Akers ended the first two. The third resulted in a Vick touchdown and the last advance was halted by Williams’ timely theft with 33 seconds to go.

In the fourth quarter alone, Philadelphia ran 18 of 21 plays in Packers’ territory. Talk about putting a defense under pressure.

Green Bay, meanwhile, authored 11 plays in the final 15 minutes none originating from beyond the 50. Two, an 11-yard pass to Donald Driver and a 12-yard run by Starks resulted in first downs.

The other nine plays generated just seven yards. Included were a pair of third-down failures in which Kuhn lost three yards and Rodgers was sacked for minus-8.

In the second half, the Eagles outgained the Packers 227 yards to 131. They earned 15 first downs to 7 for their guests.

Eric Goska is a Press-Gazette correspondent, a Packers historian and the author of “Green Bay Packers: A Measure of Greatness,” a statistical history of the Packers. E-mail him at aegoska@sbcglobal.net.

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