Packers tough enough
Aaron Rodgers threw a pair of touchdown passes, Mason Crosby kicked a team-record 56-yard field goal and the Green Bay Packers beat the Philadelphia Eagles, 27-20, on Sunday.
Not even a vintage performance from Vick could stop the Packers.
In their first game since trading Donovan McNabb to Washington, the Eagles (0-1) started with Kevin Kolb and finished with Vick. Kolb left with a concussion at halftime, so Vick played meaningful snaps for an extended period for the first time in nearly four years.
“I feel like if I had been out there for four quarters, maybe we would’ve had a chance to win the game,” Vick said.
The Packers were a popular preseason pick to reach the Super Bowl, and they began their quest for a 13th NFL title with a tough win in a hostile environment.
“It was a gutty performance by our team,” coach Mike McCarthy said. “We are fortunate and pleased to win.”
Vick, a three-time Pro Bowl quarterback during six seasons in Atlanta, invigorated an offense that was awful in the first half. He finished with 175 yards passing and ran for 103, reminiscent of his “Superman” days with the Falcons.
“I thought Michael was phenomenal,” coach Andy Reid said. “He brought the team back, he kept his poise.”
But there is no quarterback controversy in Philadelphia. Reid said Kolb will be the starter when he’s healthy to play again.
Vick’s last NFL start came on Dec. 31, 2006, in Philadelphia. He missed the next two seasons while serving an 18-month sentence in federal prison for his role in a dogfighting operation. Vick signed a two-year contract with the Eagles last summer, and saw limited action mostly in a variation of the wildcat formation.
He finally got his chance, and made the most of it. Still, it wasn’t enough against Green Bay.
I had that instinct and desire to win,” Vick said. “I had that old feel.”
After a slow start, the Packers got going late in the second quarter and scored on three straight possessions.
Ryan Grant ran 13, 8 and 18 yards to spark an 86-yard drive. Greg Jennings kept it going with a leaping, one-handed catch for a 16-yard gain on third-and-9. Rodgers then tossed a 6-yard TD pass to Donald Driver to give the Packers a 10-3 lead.
After the Eagles went three-and-out, the Packers got the ball at their own 23 in the final minute. Rodgers quickly drove them past midfield to set up Crosby’s 56-yarder before the clock expired, and Green Bay took a 13-3 lead into halftime.
Kolb was injured in the second quarter when he got tackled from behind by Clay Matthews. The team originally said he had a jaw injury and he returned for a series, completing two short passes.
Middle linebacker Stewart Bradley also came back in after he staggered off the field following a collision with teammate Ernie Sims before he sat out the second half.
“They were fine,” Reid said. “All the questions, they answered, and the things they did with the doctors registered well.”
Reid said both players were pulled because they didn’t feel any better.
Vick scrambled 23 yards on the first play of the third quarter. One play later, Vick connected with Eldra Buckley for 10 yards. But Buckley fumbled and Charles Woodson recovered at the Packers 38.
Rodgers drove them downfield, and John Kuhn ran in from the 3 to make it 20-3.
Vick looked like his old self on a 31-yard run to the Packers 2. He eluded a sack, spun away and sprinted down the left sideline before getting tackled. After a penalty, LeSean McCoy ran in from the 12 to cut it to 20-10.
Rodgers connected with Jennings on a 32-yard TD pass to give the Packers a 27-10 lead late in the third. But Vick brought the Eagles right back.
On third-and-goal from the 17, Vick fired a TD pass to Jeremy Maclin to cut it to 27-17.
Then the Eagles got a big play from rookie Nate Allen, who intercepted a poorly thrown pass by Rodgers and returned it to midfield.
A 24-yard field goal by David Akers cut it to 27-20.
The Eagles had a chance in the final minutes, but Vick got stopped on fourth-and-1 at the Packers 42.
Philadelphia also lost Pro Bowl fullback Leonard Weaver to a torn knee ligament. He’ll miss the rest of the season. Center Jamaal Jackson left with a torn biceps, and likely will also be gone the remainder of the year.
Vick was in for six plays in the first half, including a pair that were nullified by penalties. He lined up as a wide receiver on Philadelphia’s first play, but was penalized for illegal formation.
Rodgers made Packers fans forget about Brett Favre last year when he passed for 4,434 yards and 30 TDs, made the Pro Bowl and led Green Bay to 11 wins.
He started slow, bounced a couple passes and threw an interception before finding his rhythm on Green Bay’s third possession. He drove the Packers to the Eagles 24 before consecutive sacks pushed them back. Crosby nailed a 49-yard field goal to tie it at 3.
Rodgers finished with 188 yards passing and threw two interceptions.
“I played terrible. It was as bad as I can play. I’ve got to be better,” Rodgers said. “I missed a lot of throws. The defense played good. We made enough plays to win. I personally made too many dumb mistakes.”