Chip Kelly's first trip to Green Bay as the Eagles head coach ended up being quite the memorable experience.
Kelly and the Eagles had one of their best all-round efforts on the season, marching into Lambeau Field and defeating the Packers 27-13 to improve to 5-5 overall and 5-1 on the road in 2013. Offensively, the Eagles capitalized on another strong performance from Nick Foles. Though he didn't repeat his seven-touchdown performance from the Raiders game, he did finish the game 12-of-18 for 228 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions for a 149.3 quarterback rating.
"(Foles) did a really nice job," said Kelly after the game. "They put us in a lot of man coverage, and one of the things that you have to do is throw the ball over the top, and he did and we took advantage of that. I thought how they finished the game on offense was really outstanding against a good football team. Winning on the road is very difficult in this league, so we'll take it."
Foles was terrific once again, and he was aided by a tremendous rushing effort from LeSean McCoy. The Eagles' running back broke out of his recent slump with a 155-yard performance, his second-highest of the year. Though McCoy finished the game with 25 carries, Kelly said that there was no extra-emphasis on getting him involved. According to Kelly, the key to any offense is balance.
"We're trying to be a balanced operation," Kelly said. "Everything that we do is (based on), 'What are they doing to us and how are we going to react to what they're doing to us?' I thought our offensive front did a decent job blocking and there were some pretty good matchups there. I thought that Brent Celek was outstanding on the perimeter, really getting the corner for us whether the ball was cutting back to him or we were trying to set the edge. It was a good win, but we're not concerned with trying to establish individual players. It's a team deal and it always will be a team deal."
That ability to run the football came up huge for the Eagles at the end of the game. With a two-score lead, the Eagles got the ball back with 9:32 left on the clock. The Eagles would run the football on 11 out of 12 plays before taking three kneel-downs to end the game.
"This league is all about executing, and I thought that our offensive line and our backs and our quarterback executed," Kelly said. "Nick's keep at the end there was big to get another first down. I thought James Casey had a huge play for us. Obviously, it's a couple-score game, so even if we did turn the ball back over, hopefully there's not enough time left on the clock where they can put together a couple plays.
"Everyone knew what was going to happen. Everyone knew we were running it. We had to do it and we ran the clock out. I think we did the same thing in Tampa Bay, so it's something that we can build upon, but you have to have a four-minute offense in this league to win, and we feel comfortable right now that we're getting better at that."
On the defensive side, the Eagles made a concerted effort to take away Packers running back Eddie Lacy, who entered the game as the league's eighth-leading rusher. All of the preparation from Kelly and his coaches paid off, as Lacy was held to just 73 yards on 24 carries.
"We felt like going into the game, obviously with Aaron (Rodgers) being out, that they were going to try to establish the run, and he's a big son of a gun," Kelly said of Lacy. "He's really a downhill, physical runner and I thought that overall our run defense, aside from those two runs (to start the game), they did a really good job all day long against him."
The Eagles defense played one of its best games of the season despite losing two players early in the game. Linebacker Mychal Kendricks and safety Earl Wolff both left the game with knee injuries, but the Eagles defense didn't seem to skip a beat, much to Kelly's delight.
"I think it speaks a lot about the depth, and you have to have that," said the Eagles' head coach. "It's a tough, hard-nosed, physical game, and everybody's got to be ready to play at any point in time, and you only have 46 guys active on gameday. You've got to go, and that's what the deal is all about. I thought that those guys that stepped up and came in did a really nice job, and it's part of what you've got to do. We've lost a quarterback in (Michael Vick), and I think that Nick has done an unbelievable job of coming in. ... That's just kind of what this league is all about. You have to be able to handle those situations."
Thanks to a total team effort, Kelly came away victorious in his first trip to Lambeau Field, making his trip to the historic venue that much sweeter.
"It's a special place," Kelly explained. "I think it's one of the iconic places in the league. I thought that the fans were really good. Most of the time when we come in on the bus, you don't have people clapping for you, but I think it says something to the fans in Green Bay. They're just big fans of the game, and there's so much history. That was the same field that Vince Lombardi coached on, and I thought that it was pretty neat, and it's a lot neater when you win."
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