NFL Nation: 2011 playoffs packers-eagles rr

PHILADELPHIA -- A few immediate thoughts from Lincoln Financial Field, where the Packers edged the Eagles, 21-16.

What it means: It took a fair amount of nail biting, but the Green Bay Packers closed out a game they never trailed and eliminated the NFC East division champions. They’ll play Saturday night at the Atlanta Falcons for the right to play in the NFC Championship Game.

Nervous anyone? Although the Packers never trailed, it wasn’t over until cornerback Tramon Williams -- who many thought had the best season of any defensive back on the Packers' roster -- made the game-clinching play. He intercepted Eagles quarterback Michael Vick in the end zone on a pass intended for Riley Cooper.

RodgersWatch: After much debate about the relevance of his 0-1 career postseason record, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers put together a professional – if not elite – start to render that discussion moot. He completed 18 of 27 passes, three for touchdowns, and unofficially endured four big drives. Onward and upward…

StarksWatch: Rookie tailback James Starks got his first carry on the Packers’ third possession of the first quarter. It went for 27 yards. Was a heavy dose of Starks the Packers’ game plan all along? Or did they just smartly ride the hot hand? We might never know the true answer to that question, but regardless, Starks provided a highly unexpected 123-yard day. When Starks was added to the roster at midseason, I don’t think anyone thought he would be a key offensive cog in a playoff game. But as it turned out, Starks set a Packers rookie postseason record for rushing yards.

Goat: Packers receiver James Jones dropped what would have been a 63-yard touchdown pass just before halftime, one of an unofficial four drops the Packers had in the game. If you’re into the big picture, however, you could argue that Eagles place-kicker David Akers made up for it by missing attempts of 41 and 34 yards.

Who? Packers backup tight end Tom Crabtree caught only four passes in the regular season and was never targeted in the red zone, according to ESPN Stats & Information. But his 7-yard touchdown reception was the first score of the game.

What’s next: Georgia Dome. Next Saturday. 8 p.m. ET. Be there.

Rapid Reaction: Packers 21, Eagles 16

January, 9, 2011
1/09/11
7:47
PM ET
PHILADELPHIA -- A few thoughts on the Eagles slinking into the offseason following a weak effort and 21-16 loss to the the Green Bay Packers:

What it means: What once looked like a special season ended with a thud against a Packers team that owned the line of scrimmage. We spent all that time wondering if the Eagles could slow down Aaron Rodgers and the passing game, but the Packers gashed them with the run. A rookie by the name of James Starks out of Buffalo embarrassed the Eagles' defense by surpassing 100 yards. That's the last thing the Eagles were worried about happening Sunday -- and it showed. There's no good spin to put on this loss for the Eagles. They went belly-up against the Minnesota Vikings two weeks ago, and they repeated the effort against the Packers.

Vick continues to struggle: The Eagles needed Michael Vick to play like he did during the first 10 weeks of the season, but that didn't happen. His final stats may look decent, but he held the ball too long at times and actually used his amazing spin move to help Clay Matthews make a sack in the first half. The Packers did a really nice job of keeping track of Vick in the open field. Safety Nick Collins made one of the most memorable plays when it appeared that Vick might escape for a first down in the third quarter. Collins closed quickly and tackled Vick short of the marker. With four minutes left in the game, Vick had trouble walking off the field. He appeared to injure his left leg again. He made a valiant effort at the end, but ended the game by throwing an interception in the end zone to Tramon Williams.

Jackson was a non factor -- until that final drive: Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson injured his left leg in the first quarter and had to go to the locker room. He returned to the game in the second half, but didn't look the same. On a fly pattern, you could tell that Jackson was having trouble getting any separation. But he did have a 28-yard catch on the Eagles' final possession.

Akers has a terrible day: If Eagles kicker David Akers has had a worse day in his career, it's not coming to mind. At least not on this type of stage. He hooked a 41-yard attempt in the first quarter and then he did the same thing on a 34-yarder in the fourth quarter. The Eagles could've been lining up a game-winning field goal at the end had Akers done his job.

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