When it came to playing football games against the Philadelphia Eagles in the City of Brotherly Love in the past, the Green Bay Packers didn’t usually fare well.
It was like making the wrong turn off of certain parts of legendary South Street in Philadelphia. Trouble was bound to follow.
Case in point, Vince Lombardi was 9-1 in the postseason when he coached the Packers. His teams won five championships in seven years, which included the first two Super Bowls.
The only postseason loss suffered by Lombardi and his Packers? It was to the Eagles in the 1960 NFL title game at Franklin Field in Philadelphia. Though the Packers dominated the game in terms of total yards, the Eagles ended up winning 17-13.
The game ended when fullback Jim Taylor was tackled at the 10-yard line of the Eagles after snaring a pass from Bart Starr.
The Packers came back to Philly two years later in 1962 and whipped the Eagles 49-0. Who would have guessed that it would be 48 years until the Packers would win again in the Liberty Bell city.
Yes, the Packers played in Philly nine times over that time, which included a 2003 NFC Divisional game, and the Packers lost every time. Some of those losses were also quite painful.
Like the 1997 game at old Veterans Stadium, when the defending Super Bowl champion Packers lost 10-9 to the Eagles, when rookie kicker Ryan Longwell missed a chip shot field goal late in the game.
But nothing was worse than the 2003 playoff game against the Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. The winner of that game would go to the NFC title game.
Mike Sherman was the head coach of the Packers at the time and a coaching decision of his would later haunt the Packers.
Green Bay led 17-14 with less than two minutes to go in the game. The Packers had the ball and a 4th-and-inches at the Eagles 40 yard line and Philly had no timeouts.
The Packers had rushed for 210 yards that day, with Ahman Green getting 156 yards himself. So…what does Sherman decide to do? Go for the throat and end the game right then and there behind an offensive line and running attack that had been gashing the Eagles?
No. Sherman punted, which led to the famous 4th-and-26 play when Donovan McNabb hit Freddie Mitchell. The Eagles tied the game in regulation and then won in overtime 20-17.
But all that changed in 2010. Not only did the Packers, behind quarterback Aaron Rodgers, beat the Eagles in the season opener, they also came back to defeat the Eagles in a NFC Wild Card game as well.
The Packers took the momentum of that playoff victory in Philly and went on to win Super Bowl XLV.
Which takes us to the game this past Monday night, when the then 4-6 Packers were facing the 5-5 Eagles, who had not lost a home game yet at the “Linc” in 2016.
The game was basically a do or die situation for the Packers, as they went into the game two-and- a-half games behind the NFC North leading Detroit Lions, who now sit with a 7-4 record after their Thanksgiving win against the 6-5 Minnesota Vikings.
The Packers were also on a four-game losing streak and were in real danger of not making the playoffs for the first time in eight years.
Leading up to the game, there was rampant speculation about possible changes in the organization of the Packers by the beat writers of the team. Bob McGinn, Tom Silverstein and Pete Dougherty all wrote about the possible futures of Ted Thompson, Mike McCarthy and Dom Capers.
Adding to all that, the Packers would be going into the game banged up on the injury front again, but that has been the norm for the 2016 season thus far.
In the game on Monday night, rookie Jason Spriggs would be getting his first NFL start at right guard, replacing the injured T.J. Lang.
The defense would also be playing without both starting inside linebackers, Jake Ryan (ankle) and Blake Martinez (knee), in the game.
The good news was that the secondary, which has been getting thrashed as of late, would be getting back cornerback Demarious Randall.
The Packers needed Randall back on the field, as fellow cornerback Sam Shields, the team’s best corner, has been on injured reserve and hadn’t played since Week 1.
It was announced recently that both Shields and running back Eddie Lacy (also on IR) have been ruled out for the season.
Even with all that negativity swirling around the team, the Packers played their finest game since early in the 2015 season.
It was all for one and one for all.
The Packers were led by Rodgers, who played part of the game with a hamstring strain. You wouldn’t know it by how he played on Monday night.
Rodgers completed 30 of 39 passes for 313 yards and two touchdowns without a pick. No. 12 also ran 26 yards. This performance by Rodgers wasn’t really surprising, even while the Packers were on a four-game losing streak.
In those four games, Rodgers threw 12 touchdown passes versus three interceptions for 1,265 yards. His cumulative passer rating for those four games was 103.8.
Still, the Packers lost all four of those games versus the Atlanta Falcons, Indianapolis Colts, Tennessee Titans and Washington Redskins.
The main cause was the play of the defense, with some help via some special team blunders. In the four consecutive losses, the Packers gave up 153 points, or an average of 38 points per game.
For the Packers to beat the Eagles on Monday night in Philly, it would take a team effort, with all three phases of the game chipping in.
And that’s what happened.
As previously mentioned, Rodgers was fantastic. No. 12 led the offense magnificently, as the team held the ball for over 35 minutes in the ball game. Rodgers and the Packers also converted 10-of-14 third down opportunities, plus also converted on fourth down on their only try.
Rodgers spread the ball around efficiently in the passing game. Jordy Nelson had eight receptions for 91 yards, while Randall Cobb had six receptions for 41 yards. But it was Davante Adams who had the big night at wide receiver, as No. 17 had five catches for 113 yards and two touchdowns.
The second touchdown pass Adams caught from Rodgers was a thing of beauty, as No. 12 threw a 20-yard strike to No. 17 in a razor-thin window with the Eagle defender all over Adams.
The Packers tried to stay balanced on offense, as James Starks ran for 41 yards on 17 carries.
The offensive line was superb, as Rodgers was not sacked once.
Just to show you how efficient and productive the offense was in the game, the Packers had two drives in the third and fourth quarters that would put up 30 plays for 153 yards that used almost 15 minutes of the clock.
The defense was solid, as linebacker Clay Matthews played through a shoulder strain after taking a vicious blindside block from former Packer Allen Barbre early in the game. No. 52 ended up with four tackles and a sack.
Randall came back and played well, even with a bad missed tackle of quarterback Carson Wentz of the Eagles as he was running for a first down. No. 23 had six tackles and played decently in coverage in his first game back in several weeks.
As a whole, the defense had a key interception by Ha Ha Clinton-Dix in the second quarter, plus had four sacks overall. The key was holding the Eagles to just 13 points.
On special teams, the kick coverage was good, Mason Crosby was perfect on two field goals and punter Jacob Schum’s one and only put was for 43 yards and ended up at the one-yard line of the Eagles.
The bottom line is that the Packers rescued their season with their performance on Monday night and now have a 5-6 record. If the team can somehow close the difference to Detroit by one game before the two teams meet in Week 17 at Ford Field, the Packers will be in control of their own destiny in terms of winning the NFC North.
Can that happen? Why not. After all, the last time the Packers won in Philly, the team went on to win it all. They were also brothers in arms then, who also played through a lot of adversity.
The 2010 Packers placed 15 players on injured reserve, plus had to win the last two games of the regular season to just make the playoffs as a Wild Card. Plus, the Packers then had to win three straight road games (Philadelphia, Atlanta and Chicago) in the postseason just to get to the Super Bowl.
But the Packers persevered and went on to win Super Bowl XLV against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
I’m not saying the 2016 Packers are going to do the same thing this year, but I am saying that the team showed me the type of performance on Monday night that I haven’t seen in a long time.
If the Packers play like that down the stretch for the rest of the 2016 season, my guess is that Green Bay will have a real good shot at making the postseason for the eighth consecutive season.