Packers collapse again, lose to Eagles

All too familiar this season, the Green Bay Packers again self-destructed when they had every opportunity to win. As a result of their latest collapse, the mistake-prone Packers are officially eliminated from the playoffs and will have their first losing season since 1991.

The Packers committed five turnovers (three lost fumbles and two interceptions) and went scoreless in the second half as the Eagles rallied for a 19-14 victory Sunday at Philadelphia's Lincoln Financial Field.

The Eagles won their fourth straight game over the Packers, who also lost their eighth straight game in Philadelphia. The Packers haven't won in Philadelphia since 1962 when they won the NFL title under Vince Lombardi.

Green Bay buried itself again by turnovers and was sluggish on offense, despite a solid rushing attack. At 2-9, the Packers have no way of catching the NFC North Division-leading Chicago Bears, who improved to 8-3 with a victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Green Bay's five turnovers matched its season-high, set Oct. 30 in a 21-14 loss at Cincinnati. The Packers have given the ball to opponents 19 times this season on interceptions, and eight times on fumbles. They have had two or more turnovers in eight games. For the fifth time this season, all losses, the Packers have scored three or fewer points in the second half.

Quarterback Brett Favre completed 15 of 33 passes for 171 yards for a miserable passer rating of 46.4. He was intercepted twice and was off the mark, despite entering the game fifth in the league with a 65.2 percent completion percentage.

Both teams entered the game short-handed. Philadelphia was playing without injured quarterback Donovan McNabb, malcontent wide receiver Terrell Owens, and an offense line that was missing two starters. The Packers have been hit by injuries at the wide receiver and running back positions.

When all was said and done, the difference in the outcome came down to turnovers. The Eagles scored 10 points off of Green Bay's mistakes. The Packers recovered one Eagles fumble but was unable to capitalize.

"That's something that shouldn't happen," said Packers coach Mike Sherman. "We had two on kickoff returns. When you fumble on a kickoff return, you put the defense in a very, very difficult position as we did."

The Packers led 14-10 at halftime, but Philadelphia's David Akers made three of his four field goals in the final two quarters as the Eagles improved to 5-6. Akers cut Green Bay's lead to 14-13 by making a 38-yard field goal with 6:40 left in the third quarter. His 37-yard field goal with 4:31 left gave Philadelphia a 16-14 lead. After Andrae Thurman fumbled the football away on the ensuing kickoff return on the Packers' 25, Akers booted a 33-yarder with 1:49 left to put the Eagles up 19-14.

"We had a wedge left call," Thurman said. "I hit it left. I had the ball in my right hand and the guy made a great play, hit the ball out of my hand.

"Im my own worst critic. My teammates know that. I'm a little upset at myself right now."

Still, the Packers were in position to drive down the field and possibly win the game. Favre, who has had 34 game-winning fourth-quarter comebacks but none since 2002, moved the Packers to the Eagles' 45 yard line. But Favre threw deep to Robert Ferguson in the end zone and his pass was intercepted by cornerback Roderick Hood, filling in for Pro Bowl cornerback Lito Sheppard, who was placed on injured reserve recently with an ankle injury. Hood intercepted a pass from Favre earlier in the drive, but linebacker Trent Cole was penalized for roughing the passer, giving the Packers a first down at their own 44.

Green Bay's defense again had another solid performance. Philadelphia scored 10 points off Green Bay's turnovers, with both scores coming off fumbled kickoff returns deep in Green Bay territory. Green Bay held the Eagles and their backup quarterback Mike McMahon in check throughout the game. McMahon finished with just 91 yards passing, but the Eagles rushed for 180 yards against the normally stingy Green Bay run defense.

The Packers had trouble stopping the Eagles late in the game when Philadelphia used a 12-play, 61-yard drive that consummed 6 minutes, 10 seconds, highlighted by what turned out to be Akers' game-winning field goal.

"We just didn't play well enough at the end to make a play to stop that drive."

Rookie Samkon Gado rushed for 111 yards on 26 carries, including 101 on 18 carries and a 33-yard touchdown run in the first half. But Gado again had problems holding onto the ball. He fumbled the ball away at midfield in the third quarter after catching a pass, though, the Green Bay defense forced the Eagles to punt on the ensuing possession. Gado has fumbled the ball four times in three games, losing two.

Favre struggled with accuracy throughout the first half, but saved his best throw for last when he found tight end David Martin in the back of the end zone for a touchdown and a 14-10 lead. Martin, running a post pattern caught Favre's pass one-handed and was able to keep both feet inbounds for Green Bay's first lead of the game with 35 seconds left in the first half. The 13-yard touchdown was set up by Antonio Chatman's 24-yard punt return to the Eagles' 44 and Favre's 16-yard pass to Driver on third-and-11 to Philadelphia's 20.

An ineffective Packers offense and a turnover on a kickoff return allowed the Eagles to begin their first three drives inside Green Bay's 40 and take a 10-7 lead in the first quarter.

Akers, who returned to action on Nov. 6 after sustaining a torn hamstring earlier this season, made a 44-yard field goal to give the Eagles a 3-0 lead midway through the first quarter.

ReShard Lee fumbled the ball away during the ensuing kickoff return on Green Bay's 32. Two plays later, Westbrook cut back against the grain for a 27-yard touchdown with 6:54 left in the first quarter.

Green Bay answered by driving 74 yards on three big plays to close to 10-7. Favre began the drive with 23-yard completion to Donald Driver, and Gado followed with an 18-yard run. Gado took the next handoff and spun away from free safety Brian Dawkins at about the 20 and ran untouched the rest of the way. It was the longest run from scrimmage this season for a Packers running back.


Packer Report Top Stories