GREEN BAY – In the locker room after it was over and the Eagles pulled out a 34-27 win over Green Bay at Lambeau Field, the players had the music booming and they were laughing and so very happy to have done what few outside the team thought they could do: Go into the hostile road environment and go toe-to-toe with Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers – and win.
"Every player on this team deserves it," tight end Zach Ertz said. "It takes an entire roster to do that and that's what we did tonight. We were resilient. We were tough. We kept fighting. And we ended up on top. It was huge. A huge, huge win."
It wasn't one bit easy against a Packers team that came out smoking. Rodgers completed his first 10 passes and Green Bay led 7-0 after one quarter and 10-0 early in the second quarter. Coming back at Lambeau Field down 10 points. Impossible? No, but highly improbable. Rodgers was 58-0-1 at home in his career with a 10-point lead entering Thursday night. Not for the Eagles, who upped their record to 2-2 at the quarter pole of the regular season.
The Eagles won because they were a balanced, dominating machine on offense. Jordan Howard and Miles Sanders combined for 159 rushing yards and two touchdowns (both from Howard) on 26 attempts. Howard added a 20-yard catch-and-run for a third touchdown. Sanders helped spark the Eagles with a 67-yard kickoff return. They won because Carson Wentz was again a great quarterback, completing 16 of 27 passes for 160 yards, three touchdowns, and a passer rating of 113.2.
The Eagles won because the offensive line dominated, helping the offense score touchdowns on all four trips inside the Green Bay 20-yard line.
The Eagles won because the defense came up with some huge, gigantic, game-changing plays, including a Derek Barnett strip-sack of Rodgers that Brandon Graham recovered (a reversal of fortune from Super Bowl LII), and a four-down stop of the Packers from the 1-yard line, and a last-minute Nigel Bradham end zone interception of a Rodgers pass that was tipped by cornerback Craig James, who had just been promoted from the practice squad (raise your hand if you knew about Craig James before that play!!!).
They won because they were tough, because they were resilient, and because they had the will to take this game on the road.
"It comes down to us knowing that we're a good football team. I don't think we had played to our capabilities in the first three games and we knew it," center Jason Kelce said. "We knew we had to put four quarters together in this game to win and we did it. We didn't stop playing our game."
After falling behind 10-0, the Eagles gained a spark from Sanders's kickoff return and five plays later Wentz ended the drive by welcoming wide receiver Alshon Jeffery back to the lineup with a 6-yard touchdown connection. That started things for the offense and the Eagles really never stopped from there. They went ahead 14-13 on a Wentz scoring strike to tight end Dallas Goedert (welcome back, Dallas!) and made it 21-13 when Howard capped the drive following the Barnett strip-sack with a 1-yard touchdown run.
Green Bay kept coming, though, as you knew it would. The Eagles, already without Ronald Darby (hamstring), lost Sidney Jones (hamstring) in the first quarter. Rodgers was hard to stop and the game turned into a back-and-forth offensive highlights show until early in the fourth quarter after the Eagles went ahead 34-27 on Howard's bruising 2-yard touchdown run that capped an eight-play, 75-yard drive.
After that, the defenses showed up. The Eagles stymied Green Bay on four cracks from the Philadelphia 1-yard line to preserve the lead early in the fourth quarter and then the James/Bradham combination ended the game after Rodgers and the Packers used 12 plays and one Eagles defensive penalty (the Eagles were penalized on defense nine times for 93 lost yards) to reach the Philadelphia 3-yard line with 28 seconds left.
Two plays earlier, the Eagles lost cornerback Avonte Maddox, who was taken off the field on a stretcher after taking a shot to the helmet from safety Andrew Sendejo. James was summoned from the sideline and on the second snap, Rodgers went at him. James stepped up. Bradham secured the football and the win.
And 2-2 looks pretty good, all things considered after four heart-stopping games.
"We have a lot of work to do, but this weekend is going to feel great," Bradham said. "We can use the rest. We'll come back and get to work. Coming here and winning, it's big, man."
No doubt about that. The Eagles had gone through two tough-to-swallow losses at Atlanta and then on Sunday against Detroit, and head coach Doug Pederson ran his record to 4-0 on short-week games. Winning at Lambeau Field on a short week? How much does this mean?
"It's one game, but it shows what we're made of," Cox said. "We had guys go down. That's been our season so far. The next man just stepped up and we got it done."
Yes, they did, unleashing a devastating running game, an opportunistic defense, and the continued brilliance of quarterback Carson Wentz. Two-and-two is not exactly where we thought the Eagles would be, but all things considered, it's going to be a sweet weekend of rest and relaxation for a team that deserves it.