As the Arizona Cardinals were on their final drive with the game on the line, the television broadcast several times focused on Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts.
Hurts was sitting on the bench. His mood? Glum? Angry? Disappointed? Gloomy? We do know it wasn’t one thing: happy.
The Cardinals were a field goal away from tying the score, a touchdown away from victory. They had 1:45 on the clock after the Eagles settled for a field goal on the previous drive to take a 20-17 lead.
Hurts sat placidly. He wasn’t up cheering for his team; he was taking it all in. We didn’t know he was blaming himself.
What was Hurts’ mood?
Maybe all of the above.
FIELD GOAL, NO TOUCHDOWN
On the previous possession, Hurts drove the Eagles 70 yards on 17 time-consuming plays that took nearly eight minutes. Hurts did this under enormous pressure as the score was tied and the fourth quarter was winding down.
On a third-down play from the Cardinals’ 5-yard line, Hurts threw a pass into traffic to Quez Watkins. The pass was incomplete but it could have been intercepted. In stepped Cameron Dicker to kick a 23-yard field goal.
Hurts was upset at himself for not taking the Eagles into the end zone. His face on the bench said it all.
So did Hurts after the game.
- “Personally, I have mixed emotions about the game itself,” Hurts said. “But we found a way.
- “As a competitor, when you have the ball in your hands at the end of the game, you want to take advantage of it. And not give the opposition the opportunity to win the game, tie the game, whatever it is.
- “I don’t look at anybody else but myself. I look in the mirror and l Iook at myself. And I ask myself, ‘What could I have done more to not put the team in this position toward the end of the game? How could I have gotten us in the end zone?’
- “I know we had different things that come throughout the game. But that’s what it is. What could I have done more to put us in a better position?”
Hurts, who does just about everything for the Eagles’ offense — enough to be considered an early MVP candidate — should be the last person to think he let his team down. But that’s how he said he felt.
- “I feel like in many ways, I felt like I let them down,” Hurts said. “Just with opportunities we didn’t take advantage of and the ball touching my hands every play. Those are the mixed emotions I have.”
Hurts’ stats were solid. He completed 26-of-36 passes for 239 yards. He led the team in rushing with 61 yards on 15 carries. He scored both touchdowns.
His play wasn’t the reason the game was tight.
Still, Hurts’ words rang true and sincere. He was grateful for the victory. He was just upset at himself.
“We talk about playing together,” Hurts said. “We talk about having each others’ backs.
“The worst feeling was when I walked off the field even toward the end of the game — we kicked a field goal. Dicker made a great play and put this team in a great position, but there’s nothing that I can do.
“I can’t control what their kicker [Matt Ammendola] does. He missed it. Our kicker made ours. I can’t control it.”
As the quarterback, Hurts has more control of the outcome than anyone on offense. His success often equals team success. His shortcomings often equal team shortcomings.
- “I can control what we do in the second quarter and the first quarter when I had the ball in my hands. I can do that,” Hurts said.
- “I don’t like putting the team in the position where their kicker has the opportunity to tie or win the game, or our defense is on the field.
- “If I can control it, I want to take advantage of that. That’s just my competitive nature with it.”
DON’T SAY 5-0
Hurts’ competitive nature is evident. After the game, he talked about his first-place team but didn’t want to hear about their sparkling record.
- “We’re a really good football team,” Hurts said. “But we’re still growing. We’re still learning.
- “We haven’t played our best yet, so it’s just a ton to learn from. I’m hungry and eager to get to that point, but it’s a process. Rome wasn’t built overnight.
- “And these are the same things that I said when we were 2-5 [last season]. Nothing changes. My mindset doesn’t change.
- “I personally, honest, I hate hearing 5-0. I don’t like to hear it because nobody wanted to mention the record when we were 2-5. Nobody wanted to talk about that, so I don’t want to hear it now.”
This is the kind of talk and attitude you want from your quarterback — not satisfied, striving for improvement and perfection. Hurts might think he let the team down but it’s quite the opposite.
The Eagles have an outstanding team. No player is more significant to the Eagles flying high as the NFL’s only undefeated team than Jalen Hurts.