What We Saw

Posted: September 10, 2007

Each week in the Eagles Playbook, Daily News football writer Paul Domowitch provides five keys that fans should be keeping their eyes on. Here is how they panned out in yesterday's game:

1. Protecting Donovan: McNabb's surgically repaired right knee seemd to hold up fine. The return of Pro Bowl right guard Shawn Andrews, who missed the entire preseason with a high ankle sprain, helped an offensive line that allowed just one sack against a Packers defense that had an NFC-high 46 last season.

2. Offensive balance: With McNabb back behind center there may have been a temptation for Andy Reid to return to a pass-happy offense. But the coach, while still favoring the pass, managed to mix in a good amount of running plays. Overall, the Birds threw the ball 33 times, and ran it 29. Not a bad ratio.

3. Close the screen door: Any NFL offense would have been a challenge for this inexperienced Eagles' linebacking corps - SLB Chris Gocong never had taken a regular-season snap and MLB Omar Gaither was making his first start inside. But to do it against the Packers' Brett Favre was asking a lot. Favre was 23-for-42 for 206 yards overall and 21-for-35 on short passes for 184 yards. Even so, the Eagles' defense kept Favre and the Packers' offense out of the end zone.

4. Blitzing Brett: The Eagles' defense did a good job pressuring Favre the entire game. And on several occasions he did a good job of getting off passes that a less-experienced QB wouldn't have been able to pull off. In the end, the Packers won the game, but it wasn't the fault of the Eagles' defense, which sacked the 17-year veteran four times and intercepted him once. The Eagles have picked off Favre 12 times in their last seven meetings.

5. Putting the special in special teams: The very good: David Akers did his usual excellent job. The not too bad: Punter Sav Rocca had seven punts for a 40.4 yard average, but put one 50-yarder into the end zone. The extremely ugly: Greg Lewis and J.R. Reed both muffed costly punts, one that directly resulted in a Packers' touchdown and the other that led to the game-winning field goal. Clearly, there is a lot of work to be done.

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