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November 28, 2022

Three pivotal plays from the Eagles' win over the Packers

It was a blackout at Lincoln Financial Field Sunday night, as the Eagles took down the Packers 40-33. The Birds move to 10-1 (not a sentence you get to write often!) after beating Aaron Rodgers for the first time ever at home. The black helmet, all-black uniforms and black end zone coalesced perfectly with the energy the Eagles ran the ball with. Big 2021 smash-mouth, heavy metal vibes are back.

As I do after every game, here are my three pivotal plays from the Eagles' win...

Packers ball, 3rd and 4, Green Bay 15, 10:32 remaining in the first quarter, Eagles 7, Packers 0

The first drive of the game went as perfectly as possible for the Birds. Jalen Hurts made some great runs, gashing the Packers' defense on his way to a record-breaking rushing performance. Feeding off that early lead, the Eagles had Rodgers reeling on third down deep in Packers territory.

A valiant pass rush from Javon Hargrave had Rodgers off schedule. As he rolled out attempting to make something out of nothing, Rodgers threw it Allen Lazard's way. Darius Slay got a hand on the ball and popped it up like a JV grade school tip drill. Josiah Scott found his bearings and the ball in his hands, giving the Eagles a momentum-shifting interception:

Missing starting slot corner Avonte Maddox has hurts for the Eagles, but as I wrote in my first half observations from the Eagles' win over Green Bay, Scott is epitomizing the "Next Man Up" mantra that was a hallmark of the injury-depleted 2017 Super Bowl team. Well, the Eagles haven't been 10-1 since November 2017 and it's the little things like Scott having a nose for the ball, or Linval Joseph and Ndamukong Suh coming off the street to make a huge impact in Indianapolis last week, that are working big time.

The Eagles traded a sixth-round pick and defensive back Jameson Houston to Jacksonville for Scott last May. That small move might have won them this game! 

All those moves on the margins are paying dividends. 

Eagles ball, 2nd and 10, Green Bay 30, 0:19 remaining in the second quarter, Eagles 20, Packers 20

Another thing that makes this Eagles squad reminiscent of the 2017 one? Elite quarterback play from a QB in the second year of his coaches' system. 

Hurts has the goods. It's simple as that. These Packers are not the juggernauts they've been for the better part of 30 years, but Hurts beat Green Bay with both his arm and his legs.

He rushed for 158 yards in primetime and also made a hell of a throw on this touchdown toss to Quez Watkins right before the end of the first half:

The feeling were off before that. Green Bay had fight in them, and dumb mistakes from the Birds were keeping the Packers alive. A simple field goal before half would've been nice, but a 30-yard touchdown pass from the guy everyone in that stadium believes is the league MVP? It set the Linc off.

It was a good throw from Hurts, but even more props are due to Watkins here. The third-year receiver tracks the ball perfectly, knows when to look back at his QB and nimbly keeps his feet in bounds for the score. 

In the last Eagles home game, Watkins had a costly fumble on a shoulda/woulda/coulda touchdown that flipped the script from a win to the loss for the Birds. That blunder didn't crush Watkins' worldview and his game going forward. This TD grab was redemption on national television. 

Eagles ball, 4th and 3, Green Bay 36, 2:16 remaining in the fourth quarter, Eagles 37, Packers 30

Jake Elliott, after missing an extra point in the first half, nailed a 54-yard field goal that gave the Eagles a two-score lead:

If any fans wished head coach Nick Sirianni went for it on fourth there, I totally get it. The Eagles played things conservatively with a run on 3rd and 7 before that. If you get those three yards, you bleed the clock, but I get the rationale of wanting that 10-point lead. A 54-yarder isn't the easiest kick in the world. Elliott rose to the occasion, as he's done constantly during his Eagles career. Lesser kickers shank that. 

When Jordan Love relieved Rodgers at QB after he went out with an injury, Green Bay was moving the ball. He had a 63-yard touchdown throw to Christian Watson that cut the Eagles' lead to seven in the fourth. He then led another drive after this FG into Eagles territory. 

The special teams has had constant gaffs this season (including Sunday night), so it feels apt to give them some praise here. 

Back at things next Sunday afternoon at the Linc against Derrick Henry and the Titans!

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