Packers vs. Eagles: Play of the game

Donovan McNabb's scrambles helped light a fire under Philadelphia's offense, and the Packers' offense helped with a dropped pass and a turnover.

Ahmad Carroll will be justly ridiculed in the coming days for his coverage incompetence, but his failure to cover even the most pedestrian of receivers was only an aftereffect of Monday's plays of the game.

The Packers led 9-7 coming out of halftime, and Philadelphia's Lincoln Financial Field was lifeless. On third-and-10 from their 20-yard line, though, Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb began to sway the momentum.

When Packers defensive end Aaron Kampman rushed too far upfield, it left a huge alley for McNabb to scamper through. The Packers were in man coverage, and there wasn't a defender in sight besides safety Marquand Manuel. Manuel didn't have a chance, and McNabb picked up 14 yards and a first down.

Later on the drive, on another third-and-10, this time from their 46, it again was McNabb to the rescue. Packers linebacker Nick Barnett blitzed almost untouched up the middle, but it appeared he knicked the foot of lunging right tackle Jon Runyan. It caused Barnett to lose his balance, and allowed McNabb to escape the pocket. He still might have been stopped, but right guard Shawn Andrews had a healthy handful of Packers defensive tackle Corey Williams' jersey, and McNabb was able to break containment and rush 12 yards for another first down.

Those third-down rushes allowed the Eagles to kick a field goal and take the lead at 10-9.

It didn't seem like a big deal at the moment, but the Packers never recovered.

The Packers had a chance to answer, set up by a pinpoint-perfect lob down the right sideline that Greg Jennings caught between double coverage for a 30-yard gain, despite a crunching hit by Eagles safety Brian Dawkins.

On the next play, Favre threw a strike to Donald Driver on a slant. Driver dropped it, though, and it will be a play he'll be thinking about for a long time. Had Driver been able to juke safety Michael Lewis, he would have gone for a touchdown. Worst case, he would have gained 9 yards. Those were precious yards, with Dave Rayner missing from 54 yards three plays later.

Not only did the Packers fail to score, but they gave Philadelphia great field position. From there, the Eagles tortured Carroll again and again. After a screen pass picked up 10 yards, Eagles receiver Greg Lewis ran past Carroll for a 45-yard touchdown. Lewis didn't even make the slightest of moves, and Carroll never made a play on the ball.

The Eagles led 17-9, but not for long.

Starting running back Vernand Morency impressed in his starting debut, but Ahman Green's absence loomed large when Favre was intercepted on the Packers' second play of the ensuing drive. Morency was the checkdown receiver, but he stumbled as he ran his route. It threw off the timing just a bit. Favre's pass was on the money, but it didn't look like Morency was completely ready for the ball. It went through his hands and was intercepted.

On the next play, the Eagles picked up 14 yards when Carroll was beaten and picked up a penalty. Lewis scored a touchdown on the next play, when the Packers blew coverage.

Lawrence is a regular contributor to PackerReport.com. Send comments to steve_lawrence_packers@yahoo.com.


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