Eagles wide receiver A.J. Brown wasn’t breathing fire all week when talking about his much-hyped reunion against his former team.
Brown spoke dispassionately about the Titans. His coach and quarterback downplayed the match-up — just another game, and all that.
But you just knew that Brown was burning inside waiting to get a crack at the team who surprisingly traded him in the spring.
- “I feel like I’ve won,” he allowed during the week about the trade he never wanted to happen.
On Sunday, he won for real — on the scoreboard. Brown’s revenge was sweet and fueled by passes from Jalen Hurts.
Brown caught eight passes for 119 yards and two touchdowns as the 11-1 Eagles dominated a good Titans team, 35-10, at Lincoln Financial Field.
“This one meant a lot to me,” Brown said. “Early on, I had mixed emotions about the trade and everything and I’d be lying to you to say I didn’t circle this game … Today, I ran it all out and let it loose.”
- “It was very sweet for A.J. to have that game,” Eagles coach Nick Sirianni said. “I know that was important to him.
- “You know what was cool? I didn’t feel him press all week. I just felt him going through his normal process. That’s what it takes. You can’t get up for one game and not get up for another game. You gotta treat them all the same. Handled that like a pro.
- “Of course, he got himself up a little bit more. Human nature is going to take over.”
Brown’s two touchdowns were right out of a greatest hits playbook — one of them literally.
Brown and defensive back Kristian Fulton collided on a pass route. Brown ran him over, pancaking him. As Fulton crumbled and remained on the ground, taking inventory of his body parts, Brown sauntered down the field. Hurts connected on the easy pitch-and-catch pass for a 40-yard touchdown.
On the play before, Brown caught a 40-yard pass for an apparent touchdown but he had one foot out of bounds. Two plays, two 40-yard touchdowns — and even if one didn’t count, it showed the prowess of the Hurts-Brown connection and the offense.
- “I think that was huge,” Brown said about Hurts calling his number on the next play. “I think that shows the faith he has in me, just to come back to me.”
Brown’s second touchdown was on a pass delivered into a postage stamp-sized window. Brown and Tre Avery were running side-by-side by the goal line. Avery’s smothering coverage was excellent; he even had his arm around Brown’s waist.
Hurts laser-delivered the pass and Brown raised his hands as the ball arrived, catching the ball almost off of Avery’s face-mask. The 29-yard touchdown gave the Eagles a 28-7 lead.
- “He’s not looking at me and I’m looking at the ball,” Brown said. “I see him and I see the ball. He doesn’t know where the ball is, so I just try to stay calm as long as possible.”
The Eagles’ offensive versatility was off the charts. The engineer of all this destruction, of course, was Hurts, a legitimate league MVP candidate. He completed 29-of-39 passes for 390 yards and three touchdowns. Hurts mostly was unhurried, so well protected by the offensive line.
- “It felt like whatever we called was working because of the guys we have out there on the field,” Sirianni said.
The Eagles are the first team since the 1987 to pass for 350 yards a week after running for 350 yards.
Really, what are defenses supposed to do? Try to take away the pass, and the Eagles run. And vice versa.
And in Hurts, you have the ultimate multi-purpose weapon — a 67 percent passer who has 20 touchdowns and only three interceptions. As a runner, Hurts has gained 609 yards and has eight touchdowns.
Pick your poison.
Eagles rank third in points per game at 27.5 and they exceeded that Sunday against a good defensive team.
Even a boatload of penalties didn’t stop them. The Eagles had 12, normally not a recipe for winning football.
THE DEFENSE, TOO
While the Eagles’ offense was displaying its versatility, with great flair, their defense was overpowering. Remember all the talk about Tennessee’s Derrick Henry dominating the game with his running abilities? Never happened. He had 30 yards on 11 carries.
The Eagles’ pass rush overpowered the Titans’ offensive line. They had six sacks, tormenting Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill from both ends and up the middle.
Josh Sweat had two sacks. Brandon Graham, Javon Hargrave, Haason Reddick and Fletcher Cox each had a sack.
The Eagles came into the game ranked second in total defense, allowing 304 yards per game. They held Tennessee to 209 yards, and everything was garbage time in the fourth quarter.
Even the special teams stepped up. The kick coverage was fine and Britain Covey averaged 17.5 yards on six punt returns.
Christian Elliss, up from practice squad and playing his first game, made huge hits on a punt return and a kickoff return.
On this day, nothing was more special than Brown.
“Nah, it’s not the game I envisioned,” Brown said with a laugh. “Even bigger day.”