Remarkably, after all the mistakes, the game still was there for the Eagles to win. Down 6 points, 75 yards from the end zone with 4:37 to play. It’s the scenario quarterback dream about — marching the team down the field to victory.
It was the kind of scenario when MVP candidates step up and grab the game by the throat. It was the kind of uniform-dirty performance when a player’s legacy is cemented in the hearts of fans.
Jalen Hurts made the drive — and all of the fourth quarter — his defining moment, his game and his evidence that he is one of the league’s elite quarterbacks.
Hurts led the Eagles on that magical,11-play drive, scoring the winning touchdown with 1:20 left on a 7-yard quarterback draw on third down — the hole so huge that injured defensive tackle Jordan Davis could have walked through it.
The Eagles’ defense, as it had done all game after the Colts’ opening drive, shut down Indianapolis on the final drive and Philly escaped with a 17-16 win Sunday.
- “Obviously, you go through the process all week,” said Eagles coach Nick Sirianni, who was emotional after game on his return to Indy and the Colts’ firing of his mentor Frank Reich. “You try to put yourself in every single position you possibly can.
- “Then you put the ball in your players’ hands that you trust to make the plays at that time. I think you keep seeing it, when we need a drive, when we need some points, you can always lean on our offensive line.
- “Then Jalen’s special with the ball in his hands. Man, that thing opened up … He executed, we scored and it was pretty sweet.”
The touchdown run was Hurts’ second game-saving play in the final two minutes. On a fourth-and-2 from the Indy 9, he gained three yards on a direct run. Hurts gained 49 yards in the pivotal fourth quarter on eight carries. He completed 3-of-5 passes for 38 yards.
Another crucial play was Miles Sanders drawing a 39-yard pass interference penalty, setting up the Eagles at the Colts’ 28 with 3:38 to play.
“That was a huge, huge play,” Sirianni said.
This was the first Eagles victory when trailing by double-digits since 2010 — the DeSean Jackson punt return against the Giants.
They were in position to somehow win when Hurts hit Quez Watkins for a 22-yard touchdown on a crossing pattern with 13:37 to play. The Eagles were within 13-10 and had life in a frustrating game that sure looked and felt like a loss.
Hurts said Watkins told him on the sideline that play was available.
Sirianni talked to his quarterback when the Eagles were down 10 in the fourth quarter.
- “Just telling me to be who I am,” Hurts said. “I said, ‘I got ya.’ Really simple.”
Hurts was asked if he felt like he had to use his legs more to get the Eagles back into the game.
- “I don’t really get into how I have to win it,” Hurts said. “I just try to go out there and read and react. Really try to make it as simple as I possibly can.
- “Offensive line they did a great job giving us time. The receivers made plays when we needed them. We were able to find a way to win at the end of the game.
- “That’s not one individual doing that, however it may look.”
DEFENSE DOES THE JOB
The Eagles also were in a position to win because of their defense, which was burned on the first drive but was stout the rest of the way.
Colts All-Pro running back Jonathan Taylor had 49 yards on seven carries on the first drive and only had 35 yards on 15 carries the rest of the way.
“The defense they played a helluva game, all game,” Hurts said. “They responded to a really good first drive by them and after that, there wasn’t much. That’s great team defense.”
The Eagles signed Ndamukong Suh and Linval Joseph — who were on the street at the beginning of the week — and they were instrumental in shutting down Taylor and the Colts. They combined for one sack, seven tackles and two quarterback hits.
The Eagles made several key defensive stands when another Colts’ score might have ended the game.
“It’s not indicative of just one game [Commanders] of who you are,” Sirianni said. “The defensive coaches did an unbelievable job. The defensive players did an unbelievable job. It was awesome.”
The sloppy Eagles lost two fumbles and had seven penalties. They only scored three points in the first half —and they are the NFL’s third-ranked team in scoring points.
You would think Sirianni, with 14 years of NFL coaching experience, would have a huge advantage over Colts coach Jeff Saturday, who came into the game with 60 whole *minutes* of NFL coaching experience.
It sure didn’t start out that way.
- “We never wavered throughout the game,” Hurts said.
- “There were things that did not go our way in terms of our execution and we put ourselves in a bad position but we were never out of the fight and there was never any doubt because of the belief we have in one other, the way we work.
- “We were able to put it together at the end.”