GREEN BAY, Wis. - Sam Bradford might not have been perfect, according to the folks who created the passer rating some 40-odd years ago, but his one quarter of play against the Green Bay Packers Saturday was without fault and the perfect way for the Eagles quarterback to head into the regular season.
The Eagles have one more preseason game, against the New York Jets, but Bradford has nothing left to prove and likely will watch on Thursday even though he played only 34 snaps over two games.
While he was steady in leading the offense to a touchdown in his lone series a week earlier against the Ravens, Bradford was lights-out in the Eagles' 39-26 win over the Packers at Lambeau Field.
He completed all 10 of his passes for 121 yards and capped all three of his drives with touchdown throws. Bradford's passer rating was 156.7. A perfect score is 158.3. It's unclear what Bradford could have done to get the last 1.6 points. It's possible he could have had Chip Kelly keep him in for another possession.
"I thought after we had three touchdown drives," Kelly said, "we felt comfortable that we got some good work in for him."
There was nothing slowing the Eagles offense with Bradford at the controls. Actually, in three games there hasn't been a defense - from starters to units comprising players who won't likely be in the NFL in two weeks - that has effectively kept up with Kelly's offense this preseason.
But Bradford's three drives offered a glimpse of the scheme at its best, at least since Kelly came to the NFL. There were moments when the offense peaked with Nick Foles and Michael Vick at quarterback. But Bradford's accuracy should add another element.
"It was nice to get out there last week and play the one series," Bradford said. "Today to be out there for three series and have three touchdowns, but to be able to come to the sidelines, communicate with the offensive line, talk to Chip just about where we're going and what we're thinking, I think that was big, too."
His knee also cleared another mini-hurdle. Bradford stood in against a heavy rush and delivered a fourth-down strike to tight end Trey Burton for a 3-yard touchdown pass on his second drive. He took a hit from safety Micah Hyde but got up and pumped his fist emphatically.
"Like I said last week, it was nice to get in there and take a few hits," Bradford said. "Playing this position, you're going to have to be able to do that, especially fourth down on the 2 or 3, most of the time they're going to come after you, and they're bringing one more than we can block."
Bradford's first touchdown toss was a beauty. He hit running back Darren Sproles, who beat linebacker Sam Barrinton on a wheel route, in stride for an 8-yard score. "Money," Sproles called the throw. On the next drive, he delivered a dime to receiver Jordan Matthews for 27 yards. Bradford completed two more passes for 7 yards before hitting Burton in the end zone.
Sproles exploited another mismatch against a linebacker when he took a short crossing route for 33 yards. A play later, Bradford purposely threw high to Matthews, who outjumped a defender for 17 yards. His unblemished night culminated with a 7-yard touchdown toss to tight end Brent Celek in the back of the end zone.
Bradford was aided by an efficient running attack. DeMarco Murray rushed six times for 28 yards. Ryan Mathews had a 5-yard tote.
The Eagles first-team offense benefitted from having good field position. Raheem Mostert opened the game with a 67-yard kick return. The Packers went three and out on their first possession. And the Eagles defense held after a Mason Crosby 51-yard field-goal attempt hit the upright.
Sandwiched in between those two Packers possessions was a Walter Thurmond interception that the Eagles safety took 28 yards for a touchdown. The quarterback on the other end of the pick wasn't Aaron Rodgers, however. He wasn't in uniform, and rookie Brett Hundley got the start. The UCLA product completed 10 of 17 passes for 207 yards and a touchdown playing mostly against the Eagles' first-team defense in the first half.
Kiko Alonso was held out again, but Mychal Kendricks and DeMeco Ryans returned after missing the first two games and started at inside linebacker. They both looked rusty.
Ryans let receiver Ty Montgomery slip free over the middle, and the rookie ran for a 52-yard gain. Kendricks missed an open-field tackle and was flagged for pass interference in the end zone. The Packers scored a play later, when running back James Starks plunged ahead a yard.
There were other mistakes from defensive coordinator's Bill Davis' unit. Cornerback Nolan Carroll moved to the slot in the nickel defense, and rookie Eric Rowe took his place on the outside. Rowe broke up a pass to Randall Cobb the first time Hundley went at him, but he was later beaten by receiver Jeff Janis for a 29-yard completion.
Cornerback Byron Maxwell appeared to have his second interception of the preseason, but a Malcolm Jenkins holding penalty wiped out the pick.
Kelly finally employed Tim Tebow the way many envisioned he would, when the quarterback took snaps on back-to-back two-point attempts. Both tries failed. Tebow ran straight ahead on a draw, but was stopped short. And he threw to receiver Nelson Agholor, but the Packers' Casey Hayward jumped the slant and nearly caught the errant pass.
Mark Sanchez replaced Bradford in the second quarter. Some of his struggles in the pocket resurfaced, but the backup quarterback drove the Eagles to two touchdowns as the Eagles took a 39-14 lead into the half. Matt Barkley and Tebow split the second half and did more harm than good to their chances of being the third quarterback.
Only the Jets stand in between the Eagles and the opener at the Falcons. Bradford can start looking toward Atlanta, though.