Ford: Wentz outplayed? Rodgers that

This wasn't the first marquee quarterback matchup of Carson Wentz's young career. He had taken the field this season against Ben Roethlisberger, Eli Manning, and Russell Wilson, all of whom have done what Wentz hopes to do himself one day - win a Super Bowl.

Going up against Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers, also a Super Bowl winner, wasn't just another day at the office, however, even in a season in which the Packers have struggled more than expected.

The Eagles had the misfortune to get Rodgers in one of those games in which he can lift a team all by himself. That's what he did, and, acknowledging all the asterisks provided by the Eagles' depleted offense, that's what Wentz was unable to do. At least not yet.

Green Bay is missing players, too, including two starters on the offensive line, and the Packers came in having lost four straight games. That didn't matter when the Eagles defense couldn't solve Rodgers, and the Packers defense did much better against Wentz.

"We struggled to get into rhythm," Wentz said. "We have to stay the course. We can't just throw in the towel because the effort is always there."

Throughout most of the first half Monday night, the Eagles and Wentz didn't just flirt with disaster. They winked at disaster, bought it a drink, and offered to give it a ride home.

The Eagles, mostly unable to stop Rodgers and the Green Bay offense, were in danger of falling out of the game almost from the start, and Wentz, as he tried to keep them in it, narrowly avoided a number of big hits behind a crumbling offensive line.

Nelson Agholor wasn't active for the game, Jordan Matthews injured his ankle, and the running game was already missing Ryan Mathews. With Brandon Brooks missing from the offensive line because of illness and Halapoulivaati Vaitai out with an injury, the line was a crazy quilt of patches.

"It was a good performance," Eagles coach Doug Pederson said of Wentz. "The way he started the game was exceptional, led the team down for the touchdown. After that, playing with so many guys and with Jordan out . . . I thought he managed that thing extremely well. He stayed calm. He stayed right on point. He played pretty well."

Two passes changed almost everything about the nature of the game once the second half began, however. Wentz was leading the Eagles on the opening drive, working his way downfield with a combination of short passes and runs from Wendell Smallwood when he sailed a pass well over the head of Zach Ertz and it was intercepted. On the very next play, Rodgers lofted a perfect 50-yard strike to Adams. The Packers ended up with just a field goal on that drive, but the bomb forced the Eagles to back off on their coverage, giving Rodgers even more underneath room.

The Packers exploited that on their next drive, which went 75 yards and put the Eagles behind, 24-13, with just under 14 minutes left to play. Rodgers picked them apart, converting four third-down attempts on that drive alone, which made Green Bay 9 of 11 on third down for the game. If the Eagles couldn't get off the field, Wentz couldn't get on it. When the Eagles had to punt on their ensuing series, time was running out, and the Packers weren't going to do anything to slow it down.

Green Bay methodically stomped down the field after getting the ball with just over 10 minutes to play, with help from a couple of Eagles penalties. Rodgers completed a fourth-down pass for 21 yards to Jordy Nelson that pretty much sealed the outcome. One field goal later, the Packers had put away a 27-13 win.

There will probably be thrilling comebacks in the future for Carson Wentz, but this wasn't going to be one of them. It was a game in which the other guy was better. In fact, a lot better. The other guy had more to work with, no question about that, but when the game began no one was as sure of that as they were afterward.

bford@phillynews.com

@bobfordsports