GREEN BAY – It got closer than it needed to, but the Packers finished it off right.
After a 20-point lead in the fourth quarter was cut to seven, Green Bay's defense got two sacks and an interception on Philadelphia's last two possessions.
In between, the offense produced a 77-yard touchdown run by Aaron Jones for the final points in a 30-16 triumph over the Eagles on Sunday at Lambeau Field.
"The thing I loved about our team was that when it did get a little rough for us there was no panic, nobody blinked and we stuck together and we were able to finish the game," Head Coach Matt LaFleur said. "There's a lot to clean up, no doubt about it."
The breakdowns came when Eagles rookie QB Jalen Hurts, who took over in the second half for a struggling Carson Wentz, fired a touchdown pass on fourth-and-18 with the Packers leading, 23-3.
Moments later another Eagles rookie, receiver Jalen Reagor, returned a punt 73 yards for a score, and suddenly Philadelphia was down just 23-16.
Both of those plays were the type that "can't happen," LaFleur said. "In order to be a great team, you can't give up plays like that."
The Packers recovered well afterward, and prior to they looked a lot more like the team that owns the second-best record in the NFC at 9-3. Green Bay is one game behind 10-2 New Orleans, and the Packers have a three-game lead in the NFC North with just four to play.
The big lead was built mostly by the Aaron Rodgers to Davante Adams connection on offense and a steady pass rush on defense.
As Rodgers threw three touchdown passes to get to 400 in his career, Adams caught two of them in a 10-reception, 121-yard outing that put him over 1,000 yards on the season with 13 TDs, tying his career high.
His second score, which was Rodgers' 400th, capped a 99-yard drive in the third quarter that started with a 42-yard deep shot to Adams from Green Bay's own 1. It was the Packers' first 99-yard TD drive since 2009, and it put them in command of the game.
"Those are kind of backbreaking drives at times," Rodgers said. "It started with a great call by Matt and finished with a good touchdown. That was an important drive in the game for us."
Not long after, another drive that started inside their own 10 resulted in a field goal for a 23-3 cushion. Rodgers finished 25-of-34 for 295 yards with the three TDs and a 128.9 passer rating. He's faced three top 10 defenses the past three weeks and Sunday's 30 points were the fewest the Packers have scored in that time.
Green Bay's defense was on its way to maybe its best showing of the year before Hurts replaced Wentz and gave the Packers some trouble with his scrambling. The Eagles managed less than 175 total yards through three quarters before Hurts gave them some life.
Still, the Packers recorded seven sacks total against the two QBs – neither of whom completed even 50% of their passes – as the Eagles' season-long troubles up front continued. Defensive lineman Kingsley Keke had his second two-sack game of the season, while outside linebackers Rashan Gary and Za'Darius Smith each had 1½ sacks.
Darnell Savage then added the final touch, a diving interception of Hurts for the safety's third pick in the last two games, just after the two-minute warning.
Lambeau Field hosted a Week 13 matchup between the Green Bay Packers and Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday, Dec. 6, 2020.
"I thought the effort, the energy, the focus, the execution was there for the majority of the game," LaFleur said of the defense. "Our guys really battled. You could feel the pass rush getting after the quarterback."
The Packers started yet another combination on the offensive line but the group executed fine, as it has all season, after a rough opening possession. LaFleur and Rodgers praised the guys up front, with Rodgers lamenting that he took a second sack when he went down at the end of a scramble, thinking he had crossed the line of scrimmage.
Statistical tallies aside, the offensive line punctuated its performance by opening a nice hole for Jones (15 carries, 130 yards) late in the game that the fourth-year running back turned into the longest run of his career.
Left tackle David Bakhtiari rambled all the way down the field with him, while receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling threw multiple downfield blocks as the Packers restored their two-score lead with 2:36 left.
"When he was running and weaving in and out of defenders, I was just thinking, stay in bounds, and he kept going," LaFleur said. "It was great to see."
So was the victory, even if it had some nervous moments. The final quarter of the regular season has now arrived and the Packers are positioned well to make a run.
"You can't be too high, can't be too low," LaFleur said. "You have to stay the course and stay locked in."