Eagles Season Ends in Frustration With 21-16 Loss to Packers
For a fleeting moment, as Michael Vick’s pass sailed toward the end zone, it looked like he had done it again. Down 21-10 with 8:50 left, Vick was in the midst of orchestrating what would have been the Eagles’ eighth come from behind win of the season. Instead, his pass for Riley Cooper fell into the hands of Tramon Williams with 33 seconds left, ending the Eagles season.
“I could have checked it down to the back and I feel like I got greedy and took a shot at the end zone and didn’t throw the right ball I wanted to throw and then it got picked off,” Vick said. “It’s a bad way to go out, but hey, I went out swinging.”
After David Akers missed a 41-yard field goal early in the first quarter, the Eagles fell behind the Packers 14-0 on short touchdown passes from Aaron Rodgers to Tom Crabtree and James Jones. The Eagles came away with a 29-yard field goal with 1:15 left in the half after an 8-play, 63-yard drive stalled out after a critical second-down drop by DeSean Jackson.
Still, they were down 14-3 and reeling from the Packers aggressive defense, which gave up just 125 first half yards while holding the Eagles to 2-for-7 on third down tries in the first 30 minutes.
“They blitzed quite a little bit,” said head coach Andy Reid. “They started off the game that way and they kept it going.”
Safety Quintin Mikell, who has spoken off and on this year about the team’s slow starts, was upset again by the way the Eagles came out of the gates.
“It is frustrating, it seems like it’s been that way all year,” Mikell said. “There was a time there where we had a three or four game stretch where it was like that for four quarters, but I can’t really put a finger on what the problem is there. I just feel like we cut it loose in the second half and in the first half we didn’t.”
Philadelphia did open the second half with a bang, as Darryl Tapp sacked Aaron Rodgers at the Packers’ 19-yardline and knocked the ball loose. Juqua Parker recovered at the Green Bay 24. Two plays later, Vick threaded a beautiful pass to Jason Avant for a 24-yard touchdown. Avant finished with seven catches for 93 yards and the score.
The Packers didn’t let the Eagles build any momentum, running the ball effectively with James Starks, who gouged Philadelphia for 123 yards on 23 carries. The back racked up 32 yards on five carries on the next drive. The key play of the drive, and one of the biggest of the game, came on third-and-10 from the Packers’ 31. Rodgers hit Donald Drive for 20 huge yards, stopping the Eagles from making their second defensive stop in a row. The Packers quarterback later found Brandon Jackson for a 16-yard score on a screen play, putting the Packers on top 21-10 with 7:33 left in the third quarter. Rodgers finished the game 18-27 for 180 yards and 3 touchdowns.
Philadelphia moved all the way to the Green Bay 35 before two incomplete passes set up a punt, and after another good series by the defense the Birds got the ball back at their own 46. Vick hit Avant for gains of 11 and 21 yards, setting up a 34-yard field goal try by Akers on fourth-and-1, which he pushed wide right.
“You kick it and it’s an eight point game,” Reid said after the game. “The right thing to do is to kick it. The guy is a Pro Bowl kicker, so I’m thinking he’s going to make it.”
“We can all count; those points would have helped,” Reid later added about the five-point loss.
Akers, who becomes a free agent this offseason, called it the worst moment of his football career.
“Sure, football-wise, yes,” Akers said. “It’s the playoffs and you’ve got to do your job to keep things going. It’s a tough day.”
“David, I have nothing but love for David and he’s been a great kicker for years – he still is,” said Mikell, unwilling to pin the blame on his teammate. “I don’t want to, you know, put him out there, but he was going through a lot this week. He had some stuff going on and for him to even be out here was big.”
Mikell’s defense came up with another stand, and the Eagles got the ball at their own 25-yardline with 8:50 to go. Vick opened the drive with a 19-yard completion to DeSean Jackson, and later added 16-yard hookups with LeSean McCoy and Brent Celek. Vick capped the drive by punching it in on fourth-and-goal at the 1-yardline, but the two-point conversion turned chaotic.
Vick scrambled to buy time before hitting Celek in the back of the end zone, but the tight end had stepped out of bounds prior to making the catch. A flag was thrown for illegal touching, and the conversion was ruled a failed attempt. The officials sorted things out before the kickoff, though, and realized that the Eagles should have another attempt from the Packers’ 7-yardline. This time, Vick was under intense pressure and shoveled the ball incomplete in the direction of McCoy.
Philadelphia’s defense surrendered one first down before coming up with a huge stop when Keenan Clayton sacked Rodgers on third-and-10. The Birds got the ball back at their own 34-yardline, down 21-16 and sensing another comeback.
“We were very confident,” Vick said. “We thought we were going to win the game. I thought we were going to win the game. I had an upbeat feeling about myself, I felt like I was in control.”
Vick hit Jackson for 28 yards to open the drive and instantly send Philadelphia into Green Bay territory at the 38-yardline. Vick then sailed a pass intended for Brent Celek, who took a big hit on the play, in which he appeared to be defenseless.
After another incompletion, Vick hit Riley Cooper for 11 yards to move the chains with around 40 seconds left and rushed the team to the line of scrimmage. While some teammates urged him to spike the ball, Vick called another play – four verticals, sending each receiver to the end zone.
“Spiking the ball is an option, but I mean you just got a first down and you want to keep attacking, keep them on the heels,” Vick said. “Clock it for what? Take a shot downfield.”
Vick did just that, spotting Cooper in man-to-man coverage and launching the ball up for grabs. The ball was underthrown and Cooper said he knew as soon as he located it that he was playing defense. The rookie receiver couldn’t break it up, and Tramon Williams’ pick sent a tense Lincoln Financial Field crowd into a sense of shock.
“It’s tough, because I think we realize we had a great team, we had a special team,” said Brent Celek. “I’ve never been around a group of guys that were this close like this team, so I think that’s why I’m so hurt. I love all of these guys, I want to win a championship with these guys. The fact that it’s not going to happen this year really hurts.”
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