Philadelphia Eagles HB Jordan Howard finished with 87 yards on the ground and 28 via the air, and three scores in the Eagles week four victory over the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field.
Out of all the options of a potential running back to break out in this Thursday night matchup, the top choices would’ve been Green Bay RB Aaron Jones or even potentially Eagles rookie RB Miles Sanders. You’d be lying to yourself if you believed it was gonna be first year Eagles RB Jordan Howard.
To the shock of just about everyone, it ended up being Howard.
It seemed as though whenever the Eagles needed a big play, they turned to # 24 (HB Jordan Howard) in the white jersey.
Howard demolished the Packers defense all night, finishing with 115 total yards (87 rushing, 28 receiving) and three total touchdowns leading the Eagles to a 31-24 come-from-behind victory over the Packers at the iconic Lambeau Field.
The fourth year running back out of Indiana had his most attempts (15) and total yards (115) since week 17 of last season when he had 21 carries for 109 yards against the Vikings as a member of the Chicago Bears. In fact, Howard hadn’t scored three touchdowns since his rookie year when had three rushing touchdowns against the 49ers in week 12 of the 2016 season.
Howard got going late in the second quarter with Philadelphia up 14-13. After a rare fumble by Packers QB Aaron Rodgers, the Eagles fed Howard deep in Packers territory. On that drive alone, he carried the ball four times for 17 yards and found the end zone from a yard out to extend the Eagles lead to 21-13.
Howard would build on his success during the team’s first drive in the second half, scoring on a rare receiving touchdown from 20 yards out. The score via the air would only be his second receiving touchdown of his career with his first one coming all the way back week four of the 2016 NFL season.
After the Packers would go down the field and tie the game at 27 on a touchdown from TE Jimmy Graham, the Eagles running back rotation shifted to rookie RB Miles Sanders. Sanders, a rookie second round pick out of Penn State, had his best game on the ground in his short professional career.
Sanders gashed the Packers defense with a 30-yard run followed by a five-yard run on the ensuing play. He finished the night with 11 carries for 72 yards.
The rotation then shifted back to Howard down in the red zone, who punched his third touchdown of the game from two yards out to retake the lead for good at 34-27.
QB Carson Wentz
For the first time this season, QB Carson Wentz didn’t have to completely carry the team on his back. Thankfully, the running game showed up. Despite finishing the night with only 160 passing yards, Wentz was sharp when he needed to be. All three of his touchdown passes came in the red zone finding Howard, WR Alshon Jeffery, and backup tight end Dallas Goedert respectively. While he was without his deep threat in Desean Jackson and Jeffery was limited by injury, Wentz found his favorite security blanket in TE Zach Ertz early and often who finished with seven catches for 65 yards.
RB Aaron Jones: On the flip side, it was a night to forget for Packers RB Aaron Jones. Jones, entering his third year out of University Texas El-Paso (UTEP), struggled to find any room on the ground. He finished with unsatisfying 13 carries for 21 yards and a touchdown. If you take out the three-yard TD run, Jones only had 12 carries for 18 yards. Yikes. It’s the second straight game and the third time in four games this season where he’s rushed for less than 40 rushing yards and averaged three yards or less per carry.
What might be more troubling for Jones is the way the Packers used down the stretch. Despite his struggles, the Packers had a golden opportunity to tie the game at 34 with less than 10 minutes remaining in regulation with the ball at the Eagles one-yard line. However, the Packers took the ball out of Jones’s hands and ultimately turned the ball over on downs after Rodgers attempted a pass on all four plays.
Like me, you’re probably thinking this was potentially a fluke as Rodgers might have potentially saw something at the line of scrimmage and changed the place. If only that were the case. With 1st and goal at the Eagles seven-yard line with 1:06 left in the game and two timeouts, it’d make sense to keep all of its options open including Jones. However, after Jones ran the ball to the three-yard line, the Packers did not call a timeout and instead Rodgers forced a ball into tight coverage which ended up being intercepted by LB Nigel Bradham to end the game. With backup running back Jamaal Williams sustaining a head injury early in the game, it was all set for Jones to take over the game and that just did not happen.
Unfortunately for Jones, he was also going against one of the best run defenses in the league in Philadelphia. Through the first four weeks of the season, the Eagles have allowed an average of 1.8 yards per carry and are third in rushing yards allowed in 62 per game. In fact, tonight was the highest total rushing yards they’d given up and ironically it was not by a RB but QB Aaron Rodgers, who finished with five carries for 46 yards. Looking at it glass half full, it was nice to see Jones more involved in the passing game, as he finished with six catches for 37 yards.
QB Aaron Rodgers: Despite the last second interception to seal the Eagles win, Rodgers looked like his old MVP self against the Eagles. Rodgers completed a season-high 34 passes and recorded 422 yards through the air and two touchdowns. He even added 46 yards on the ground as mentioned above. This was a complete turnaround from the first three weeks of the season where the former MVP only averaged 216 yards per game passing. With favorable matchups against the Lions, Raiders, and at the Chiefs in following weeks, we should see Rodgers have continued success like he did on Thursday night.
WR Davante Adams: If not for a toe injury that kept him out for a majority of the fourth quarter, the ending to this game could have looked a lot different with Packers star WR Davante Adams in the game. Adams, who already had 10 catches and a career-high 180 receiving yards, left the game in the fourth quarter and did not return. Adams dominated, especially in the first half with a statline of eight catches for 158 yards, including a 58-yard catch on the first drive of the game. It is being reported that Adams suffered a potential turf toe injury and is undergoing further examination in the coming days to detail the extent of the injury. If Adams were to miss time, it’d be a huge blow to this Packers offense who would need its young receivers behind Adams to step up in his absence.
The Eagles (2-2) will make its way back to Lincoln Financial Field to face the Jets (0-3) in week five.
The Packers (3-1) will travel to Dallas to take on the Cowboys (3-0) for its week five matchup.
No Shenanigans, Just Football.