Nothing record breaking or the kind you’ve never seen before; simply Aaron Rodgers at his finest, leading the Green Bay Packers to a 53-20 win over the Philadelphia Eagles which also turns out to be a victory that puts them in a shared-lead position in the NFC North.
Rodgers completed 22-of-36 passes for 341 yards and three touchdowns while the Packers also scored three times from special teams and defensive returns: Once it was a punt return by Micah Hyde for 75 yards, an interception return by Julius Peppers and finally a fumble return by Casey Hayward. Mark Sanchez, still filling in for the injured Nick Foles, had all four turnovers for the Eagles – two interceptions and two fumbles.
It’s very difficult beating the Packers in Lambeau, and it’s impossible when the offense makes so many mistakes, and the defense has no way of slowing down what’s coming. Rodgers has now thrown over 300 passes in home games since his last interception, while completing 29 passes for touchdowns. It might mean that the Packers really need home field advantage in the playoffs, but it’s more about the excellency of Rodgers that’s been going on for quite some time.
The Eagles are excellent when it comes to applying blitzes on teams, but Rodgers had no problem handling the added pressure. He completed 11-of-19 passes for 181 yards and two touchdowns when five or more pass rushers were coming at him. He now has 11 touchdowns this season against added pressure, tied for second most in the NFL along with Drew Brees. He was 5-of-9 for 159 yards on passes traveling 15 yards or more downfield, and 2-of-3 for 91 yards and a touchdown when throwing deep to Jordy Nelson, the most prolific deep throw receiver in the NFL this season with six touchdown receptions.
Both Nelson and Randall Cobb topped 100 yards of receiving (Nelson with 109 on four receptions, Cobb with 129 on 10 receptions). It’s the second time this season that both of them have topped 100 yards, the previous occasion happening in week 4 when the Packers beat the Bears, which might be considered the win that turned their season around, going 1-2 (for a second straight season) up to that point.
Things have changed since week 3, when the Packers went down to a 1-2 record. They held the 24th best offensive efficiency in the NFL at that point, but have been the best in the NFL in that category over the last seven games. They gained a whopping 7.4 yards per play in the win over the Eagles, the worst a Philadelphia defense have given up since 2007 and the third-most they’ve allowed over the last 10 years, topped only giving up 7.83 to the Broncos in 2005 and 7.61 to the Cowboys in 2007.
Beyond all the numbers being thrown into the air, it was simply a difference between a team with incredible fluidity and smoothness in their offense against an Eagles side that even with Nick Foles has been struggling to look consistent this season, despite the impressive win-loss record. It’s not certain Mark Sanchez is an actual downgrade with Foles not doing as well in his third NFL season, but it’s certainly not the kind of ability Chip Kelly needs from his quarterback as his team fights for the top spot in the NFC East.
The Packers are in known territory and currently sharing the lead in the NFC North. The question continues to be whether or not having the best quarterback in the NFL is going to be enough for more than just making the playoffs. The defense is better this season and the running game is somewhat satisfactory. But it’s going to take beating better teams than the Eagles in order for the Packers to make it seem like 2010 again.