GREEN BAY, Wis. – For 10 games the Eagles had been the model of how to change a game in a positive way on special teams. In Game 11, Sunday at the Packers, the Eagles felt the sting of giving up a big play on special teams in a 53-20 loss to Green Bay.
Trailing 10-0 in the first quarter, the Eagles' offense had a three-and-out series and Donnie Jones dropped back to punt. His kick was caught by Micah Hyde in the middle of the field at the Green Bay 25-yard line and the Eagles appeared to have him surrounded with gunners Josh Huff and Nolan Carroll II.
And suddenly they didn't.
Hyde caught the ball on the left hash mark and slipped past Huff, who did not close the gap effectively, and then turned up the field down the gut, cut to the right sideline and outraced Jones into the end zone.
"He had space down the middle and took off," Carroll said. "We were right there. I should have taken a shot. I saw the guy on my inside and I tried to backpedal and get over the top and I couldn't get there and he ran down the field free."
Said Huff: "I did my job. I was doing what the coaches told me to do, to slow down before I got to the returner so that's what I did. That was the end result. I was in position to make the play but I was doing what the coaches told me to do."
The Packers dominated in every way on Sunday, including making the big play on special teams. Green Bay had its share of troubles in the kicking game, botching a PAT snap, having Brandon Bair block a PAT, missing a 50-yard field goal attempt and late in the game permitting Bryan Braman to burst up the gut to block a punt, but the punt return that went for a Packers touchdown was a huge moment in the first half.
It was the first punt return for a touchdown allowed by the Eagles since Detroit's Jeremy Ross did so in the Snow Bowl game on December 8, 2013 at Lincoln Financial Field.
"I didn't see much," Jones said. "I thought maybe our left gunner (Huff) was in his face and all of a sudden I saw him make a move and come up our sidelines. I tried to chase him down and catch him and I couldn't. We have to figure out what happened and get it fixed."
The Eagles are in Green Bay to take on QB Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers in a critical NFC showdown ...