After more than two decades of stability from a signal caller standpoint, the Green Bay Packers find themselves in the midst of a quarterback quandary.
And the Philadelphia Eagles found themselves as the beneficiaries on Sunday afternoon at Lambeau Field.
With 2011 NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers missing only the second game due to injury (collarbone) since being handed the keys to the green and gold kingdom in 2008, Seneca Wallace received his first start in two years—who subsequently was lost for the game with a groin injury during Green Bay’s opening drive, in which he completed each of his five pass attempts.
Behind former Wisconsin Badger quarterback Scott Tolzien, who was signed to the Packers roster on Tuesday and thrust into action on Sunday, leading the charge the rest of the way and a porous showing by the Green Bay secondary, Mike McCarthy’s club found themselves overmatched en route to falling to Philadelphia, 27-13.
While the Eagles pulled to within .500 on the season (5-5), the Packers, coupled with a Detroit triumph over Chicago, fell out of the first place in the NFC North with a road contest against the suddenly revitalized New York Giants looming next Sunday.
Nick Foles, one week removed from tying a league record with seven touchdown passes, accounted for three scores through the air, while LeSean McCoy, who entered the league third in rushing (777 yards), scampered for 155 yards as Chip Kelly’s club upended Green Bay for the first time since the 2006 campaign.
For the Packers, it was an afternoon of missed opportunities on both sides of the ball.
Despite holding the ball for nearly 70 percent of the first half and amassing 268 yards of offense against the league’s 27th-ranked defense, the Packers (5-4) found themselves trailing 10-3 at intermission.
Mason Crosby, who missed two field goals in the first half, accounted for the lone points with five seconds prior to halftime. Foles, meanwhile, got Philadelphia, who improved to 5-1 on the road this season, on the board quickly with a 55-yard strike to Desean Jackson off of a deflection.
Tolzien, in his first career NFL regular season action, threw for 184 yards on 15-of-23 passing and showed comfort in the pocket against the Eagles defense in the first half. The 6’3”, 208-pound Illinois native, however, tossed a costly interception on 3rd-and-3 deep inside Philadelphia territory to cap a 17-play drive in the second quarter.
The Eagles, who has scored 76 points in their past two games after averaging 5.0 points over the final two contests in October, drove 84 yards in three plays on their first possession of the second half (capped by a 45-yard touchdown grab by Riley Cooper, the first of two in the frame for the former Florida Gator), and staked a 20-3 edge after turning an interception by Tolzien into an Alex Henery 41-yard field goal with 7:33 to play in the third period.
Tolzien, the Badgers’ all-time leader in career completion percentage (68.1) finished with 280 yards while connecting on 61.5 percent (24-of-39) of his throws, responded with a 86-yard drive in which he tossed for 32 yards—in addition being aided by a 30-yard pass interference call against Brandon Boykin—and culminated by a 22-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Bostik.
Philadelphia, who accounted for 415 yards of offense, including eight plays of at least 20 yards (six of which were via the pass), would seize control of the game as a wide open Cooper waltzed into the end zone for a 32-yard touchdown reception (his fifth in two games) with ten ticks remaining in the period to make it a 27-10 affair.
Although the Packers would register a field goal on their first possession of the fourth quarter to make it a two score game, the Eagles, already surpassing their win total from a year ago, put the game on ice courtesy of a 15-play drive which drained the final 9:32 off the clock.
Adding further insult to injury for Green Bay was the loss of two offensive linemen, Evan Dietrich-Smith (knee) and Don Barclay, resulting in left guard T.J. Lang sliding over to play center.
Linebacker Clay Matthews, sporting a large, black wrap, returned to the lineup following a four-game absence due to a broken thumb and registered two tackles. Rookie linebacker Datone Jones, who notched his first career sack against Chicago this past Monday, led the Packers with two takedowns while adding three tackles.
The Eagles defense was led by linebacker DeMeco Ryans, as the former Alabama Crimson Tide product had 13 tackles (11 solo and two for loss), while adding a pass deflection and an interception.
Wide receiver Jarrett Boykin totaled a career-high 112 yards on eight catches for Green Bay, with Jordy Nelson snaring six passes for 56 yards, the second fewest of the season for the sixth-year pro.