By Kevin McGuire
If this was a heavyweight boxing match, it would have been called after the first two rounds. Green Bay came out swinging with heavy punches mixed with timely jabs, and the Eagles could do nothing but be pushed into a corner on both sides of the football. The Eagles were dealt a 53-20 pounding by the Packers Sunday afternoon in Lambeau Field that really was not as close as the final score would indicate. With the loss, the Eagles fell to 2-3 away from Lincoln Financial Field, and Chip Kelly now has plenty he and his staff can work on before returning to the field next week at home.
The Mark Sanchez hype was fun while it lasted. After a disappointing showing in Green Bay it should be expected the Sanchez hysteria dials back a few notches this week. Sanchez completed 26 of 44 pass attempts for 346 yards and two touchdowns, but he was intercepted twice and fumbled once more. Two of the Sanchez turnovers were returned by Green Bay’s defense for 14 points. Sanchez was also sacked for a loss of 26 yards during the game. Despite being roughed up by Green Bay’s defense, Sanchez hung in there until the bitter end. Getting the playing time now should help the Eagles moving forward for as long as Sanchez is leading the offense. This loss was on everybody, but Sanchez can only shoulder so much of the blame. Grade: D
In a match-up of two hot offenses, the Eagles offense could not have afforded a slow start in Green Bay. They did just that. Philadelphia had to punt on three of its first five possessions, settling for field goals on the other two. Down big at the half, the Eagles fumbled away their first offensive possession of the second half. After a thee-and-out on their next possessions, the Eagles then saw another drive end by way of an interception. It was just not a good day at all for the Eagles. By the time the Eagles manage to do anything on offense, the game was already decided, rendering two second-half touchdowns rather meaningless. The Eagles put together 429 yards of offense, but had four turnovers. LeSean McCoy rushed for 88 yards on 23 carries and Jordan Matthews led the Eagles with 107 receiving yards and a touchdown. Jeremy Maclin added 93 yards and a touchdown, but the Eagles failed to get on track early and it cost them in a big way. Grade: D
The Eagles defense had been playing well lately, but the Green Bay Packers offense, led by quarterback Aaron Rodgers, was equipped to pick this Eagles defense apart from the start. The Packers had all of the offensive tools to expose the weaknesses shown this season in the Eagles secondary. The Eagles gave up 351 yards and three touchdowns through the air. Two different Packers had 100-yard receiving afternoons (Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson) as the Eagles secondary was shredded. Even running back Eddie Lacy made the Eagles defense look silly on a screen pass going for 32 yards and a touchdown early in the fourth quarter.
The Eagles also failed to force any turnovers and managed just one sack for a loss of two yards. Getting off to a good start was off the table quickly. Green Bay scored 24 points on its first four possessions, all traveling at least 75 yards. The game was decided well before halftime. The defense never gave the offense a chance to make this interesting. Grade: F
The Eagles special teams unit had been playing well this season, but in this game it was the Packers who struck gold on special teams. Green Bay returned a Donnie Jones punt 75 yards for a touchdown. Jones averaged nearly 40 yards per punt and downed one of his four punts inside the 20-yard line. Kicker Cody Parkey was once again solid when on the field. Parkey converted both field goal attempts asked of him. The Eagles never got anything out of the return game though. Darren Sproles had one punt return for just six yards. Chris Polk racked up 89 yards on four kickoff returns, an average of 27 yards per return. Not bad, but nothing that could help spark the team to get anything going. Grade: B
Time To Clash With The Titans
Philadelphia returns home next week to take on the Tennessee Titans. The Titans will be coming off a short week after hosting the Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday night, so this should play to the advantage of the Eagles. Regardless, the Eagles will be ready to get back on the field in familiar surroundings to erase the sting of this loss as quickly as possible. This is the good thing about the NFL; whether close or not, a loss is a loss and you move on to the next game. Getting a chance to rebound against a struggling team like the Titans should not be taken for granted.
The final stretch of the schedule is cranking up with two games against the Dallas Cowboys and a home game against the Seattle Seahawks looming. The Eagles have to do whatever they can to improve the pass defense. If they do not, a shot at making any run in the NFC seems less likely, although the NFC East is still there for the taking.
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Kevin McGuire is a Philadelphia area sports writer covering the Philadelphia Eagles and college football. McGuire is a member of the FWAA and National Football Foundation. Follow McGuire on Twitter @KevinOnCFB. His work can be found on Examiner.com.