Photo Courtesy of Sports Illustrated
Packer fans entered Lambeau Field on Thursday night with a certain sense of assurance; their team was undefeated, they had beaten two division foes in the Bears and Vikings, and their defense was looking dominant. They were also facing the struggling Eagles, who have a shaky defense and have only managed to win one game on the season.
Packer fans left Lambeau field on Thursday night with far different emotions after the Packers dropped their first game of the year; 34-27 to Philadelphia. Fans were stunned, disappointed, frustrated, and perhaps most of all, worried.
Their team had just lost to an Eagles team that had not looked like the Eagles of the past few years. The Packers running game was nonexistent. They picked up zero points on a first-and-goal at the one with a chance to tie the game in the fourth quarter. Aaron Rodgers threw an interception on the goal line with another chance to tie the game late in the fourth quarter. All of this, however, was overshadowed by the fact that the team lost one of its most important players — in the midst of one of the best games of his career.
Wide receiver Davante Adams was hurt on a play early in the fourth quarter and did not return to action, and the Packers were held scoreless for the rest of the game. Adams appeared to grab his right foot as he went to the ground after catching a pass. The team hopes it is just turf toe, in which case he would be back on the field in just a couple weeks, at most. But fans can’t help but fear the worst.
Adams’ injury may very well have cost the Packers the game, as they failed to move the ball effectively – or score any points – after he left. The offense drove down the field early in the fourth, trailing 34-27, with Adams still on the field. He was the catalyst offensively; nothing the Eagles did could stop him. He caught ten passes for a career-high 180 receiving yards. When the running game wasn’t working, it seemed Adams was always open. When he left the game, the Packers were driving down the field with ease. Adams had just caught a Rodgers pass along the sideline to convert a third-and-six and set up a first-and-goal at the seven-yard line. But he came up clutching his toe, and his night was done. A pass-interference penalty by the Eagles in the end-zone gave the Packers a first-and-goal at the one-yard line with a very good chance to tie the game. Four plays later, as a Rodgers pass sailed over the head of Jimmy Graham, it looked as though the Packers were truly in danger of dropping their first game of the season.
However, the Packers defense came up with a big stop with five minutes left in the game, as Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz sailed one wide of his target, and they were forced to punt. Could Rodgers put together one more masterful five-minute drive without his star wide receiver and tie the game?
Rodgers did everything but tie the game. He was brilliant for most of the game, throwing for 422 yards and two touchdowns. It was easily his best performance on the young season. But he couldn’t convert when it mattered most — at the goal-line. On second-and-goal on the three-yard line with 28 seconds remaining, Rodgers fired a pass toward Marquez Valdes-Scantling, which bounced up and was picked off by the Eagles. Rodgers struggled to put the ball in the end-zone on two occasions, and they were both without Adams on the field. So a person could almost blame the loss on Adams’ injury.
After all, there were plenty of positives that can be taken out of the loss. One that has already been mentioned was Rodgers’ brilliance. Even without Adams, he still moved the ball effectively, but couldn’t punch it in the end-zone. Jimmy Graham played one of his better games in a Packers uniform, catching six passes for 61 yards and a touchdown. If he gets going, the Packers offense could become unstoppable.
But there were plenty of negatives as well. The defense, which had appeared nearly impenetrable through three games, allowed 34 points to the Eagles. This nearly matched their total allowed through three games, which was 35. Granted, the Eagles have a solid offense, but the defense did not look like itself. The running game was completely absent for the Packers as well, as Aaron Rodgers was their leading rusher by far, with five carries for 46 yards. Aside from their quarterback, the Packers rushed 15 times for an abysmal 31 yards. To make matters worse, running back Jamaal Williams was carted off the field after the Packers’ first offensive play of the game with an apparent serious head injury. The Packers can expect to be without Williams for an extended period of time.
All in all, the Packers lost a game which they should have won Thursday night. They gave too much to the Eagles offense and didn’t capitalize on their own opportunities. This leaves a sour taste in the mouths of fans, who will have to live with it for at least another ten days, when the Pack travels to Dallas to take on the surging Cowboys. If the defense looks like it did tonight, they will be in for a long game against one of the best offenses in the league.
In the meantime, all that fans can hope for is a favorable diagnosis on Davante Adams. Because if Thursday’s game was any indication, the Packers offense isn’t itself without Adams on the field.