Quick takes: Packers fall to 3-1 after 34-27 loss to Eagles
GREEN BAY - It took four games, but the points finally piled up in this 2019 Green Bay Packers season.
The Packers had their highest-scoring first half of the season Thursday night against the Philadelphia Eagles, hitting the 20-point mark for the first time. The problem: The Eagles were scoring, too.
The Packers' defense, which had allowed 35 points combined in three games entering Thursday, allowed 34 against Philadelphia by the early fourth quarter. That was just enough for the Eagles to hold on.
The Packers lost 34-27, a defeat sealed in the final minute when Aaron Rodgers’ pass from the 3-yard line deflected off receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling. Eagles linebacker Nigel Bradham caught the deflection for an interception in the end zone.
The loss dropped the Packers’ record to 3-1 on the season. Their next game is Oct. 6 at Dallas. The Eagles improved to 2-2.
Rodgers finished 34-for-53 for 422 yards, two touchdowns and an interception (93.4 rating).
Davante Adams caught 10 passes for a career-best 180 yards but was sidelined in the fourth quarter by a toe injury. His presence was sorely missed on the final drive.
Here are five observations from the game:
What run defense?
The book is out on the Packers' defense. You might not be able to light up the Packers with the passing game, but you sure can run it on them. For the third straight week, the Packers' run defense left a lot to be desired. The Eagles had 176 yards rushing on 33 carries, a 5.3-yard average. The Packers faced a franchise quarterback for the first time this season, and it showed. Carson Wentz had a terrific game, especially considering he was without receiver DeSean Jackson. But, after three straight weeks, the inability to stop the run is the real issue for this Packers' defense.
Run offense grounded
The Packers got practically nothing going in their run game Thursday. Jamaal Williams was knocked out of the game on their first snap and was being evaluated for head and neck injuries, leaving Aaron Jones as the only active tailback. It appeared the two-tailback scheme might have been a staple of Matt LaFleur’s game plan; the Packers lined up in 21 personnel to open. Down to Jones, the Packers produced very little on the ground. Jones was held to just 21 yards on 13 carries. The run game is foundational in LaFleur’s offense, setting up the action-pass game. Without it, the Packers' offense is significantly limited. With a first-and-goal at the Eagles 1 early in the fourth quarter, the Packers tried four passes without success.
Rodgers finds right pitch
Aaron Rodgers completed all 10 of his passes in the first quarter for 129 yards and a 118.8 rating, which is nothing new. The Packers quarterback has been money in the first quarter the past three games. What was different Thursday was Rodgers’ ability to prolong his high level of play. Rodgers executed a flawless two-minute drive at the end of the first half that was capped by a touchdown to Geronimo Allison at the end of the first half, and tied the score at 27 late in the third quarter with a nice touch pass to tight end Jimmy Graham.
It’s no secret the Packers offense is at its best when the football is in Davante Adams’ hands. The Packers' top receiver went off Thursday night, especially in the first quarter, when he caught six passes for 107 yards. It was the most first-quarter receiving yards for any Packers receiver since Javon Walker had 121 yards in the first quarter of a game at Indianapolis in 2004. Adams entered Week 4 with 15 catches for 198 yards. He had eight catches for 158 yards in the first half, including a pair of gains at least 40 yards. Adams went to the bench in the fourth quarter with a toe injury.
Alex Light, thought to be the Packers’ top backup tackle, was a healthy scratch Week 1 in Chicago. But when right tackle Bryan Bulaga left the game with a shoulder injury and did not return, the Packers replaced their veteran with Light. It was surprising the Packers didn’t slide right guard Billy Turner out to right tackle, especially after it became apparent Light was struggling. The Packers have less interior depth after guard Lane Taylor was placed on injured reserve because of a biceps injury last week, but Lucas Patrick might have given the Packers better guard play than they got from Light at tackle.