Maybe we should appreciate what Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts is, instead of what he isn’t.
We know who cornerback Darius Slay is and he showed us last night — Big Play Slay, who had two interceptions that saved touchdowns.
This is what Hurts was last night — a remarkable passer, runner and field commander.
Hurts looked like everything a winning NFL quarterback should be — and more — as the Eagles defeated Minnesota, 24-7, before a rapt and ecstatic crowd at Lincoln Financial Field Monday night.
In a brilliant first half, Hurts completed 17-of-20 passes for 251 yards and one touchdown — as the Eagles led, 24-7, at halftime.
- “We just wanted to come out here and play our type of football,” Hurts told ESPN after the game. “It felt like early on we had a lot of things clicking.”
But what makes Hurts special and unique was his 26-yard touchdown run that gave the Eagles a 21-7 lead. On what looked like a called run, Hurts took off around the right side, made a great cut, broke tackles and bulled his way into the end zone.
ONE OF A KIND
The run was something not many NFL quarterbacks can do and maybe that should be the point.
ESPN broadcaster Joe Buck said Eagles radio broadcaster Merrill Reese came into the television booth at halftime and said that’s as good as he’s seen a quarterback play here in a long time.
- “If he [Reese] says it, I’ll go with it,” Buck said.
Hurts was deadly accurate, spreading the ball around to six receivers. His passes had zip and I only saw one ball thrown behind a receiver — and it was caught anyway.
We knew Hurts could run. The big question mark was about his arm— did he have arm strength, did he know which receiver to throw to?
A DRIVING FORCE
In Week One, the Eagles were the only team with multiple 80-yard drives. On Drive One last night, the Eagles went 87 yards in 10 dominating plays.
What a drive. Hurts was 5-of-5 for 63 yards. He ran twice for seven yards and a touchdown.
The drive was masterful — a little of this, a little of that, all successful.
Completions were made to DeVonta Smith (on the game’s first play!), Dallas Goedert, A.J. Brown (for 19 yards, on a key third-and-13) and Zach Pascal.
It was only one drive but the Hurts’ performance was breathtaking. He made several tough throws, throws on the run and converted two third-down passes.
If there was a flaw, it wasn’t visible to the naked eye. Hurts accounted for 70 of the 87 yards. The Eagles ran the ball five times for 24 yards — all positive plays.
In the first quarter, Hurts was 9-of-9 for 102 yards. Four penalties slowed down the Eagles offense — three penalties were offensive linemen ineligibly downfield.
The Eagles controlled the ball — with a 12:15 to 2:45 time of possession advantage.
Then, Hurts came out on the first play of the second quarter and connected with an open Quez Watkins for a 52-yard touchdown.
Smith, the forgotten man against Detroit, was targeted five times in the first half for five catches for 64 yards — his precise route-running clearly evident.
Hurts finished with 26 completions on 31 attempts for 333 yards and one touchdown. He also gained 57 yards and scored two touchdowns on the ground.
This was Jalen Hurts’ signature game before a national television audience.
SAY GOOD NIGHT?
The rout was on.
No, it wasn’t.
Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins came to Philly carrying around two interesting stats. He was 2-9 on Monday night, and in Philly, he had a 112.1 passer rating, the highest for visiting player against the Eagles.
The first two Minnesota series were three-and-out. Their initial first down came on a receiver reverse by … former Eagle receiver Jalen Reagor, who gained 17 yards.
Perhaps because the Eagles’ defense was in shock at Reagor’s success, but the Vikings continued their nine-play, 75-yard drive to cut the Eagles’ lead to 14-7.
DEFENSE DOES THE JOB
But the much-maligned Eagles defense, burned badly the week before at Detroit, stepped up. They intercepted Cousins three times — one by Slay at the goal line and a second in the end zone — and kept the Eagles comfortably ahead.
And with Minnesota’s all-world receiver Justin Jefferson around, you want to make sure he didn’t beat you.
He didn’t. Slay didn’t let him.
As great a game as Hurts had on offense, Slay had a great one on defense. Slay was all over Jefferson, who had a benign six catches for 48 yards.
Slay stepped in front of Jefferson near the goal line for an interception when a Vikings touchdown would have cut the Eagles’ lead to an uncomfortable 24-14.
Slay then handed the ball to Sixers guard James Hardin, who presumably was enjoying the spectacle.
Slay then picked a pass in the end zone — intended for Jefferson — with 7:07 to play.
The joyous crowd was roaring. This Eagles team, superb on offense, now showed its defensive chops.
For the Eagles, the future is now and it is bright, indeed.