This was one of those games where you just kind of hold your breath for three hours.
This game was nuts. Had a little bit of everything. But when the smoke settled, the Eagles had their most rushing yards in 74 years and a wild 40-33 win over the Packers at the Linc.
That’s 10-1 with six games to go. Not too shabby.
What a fun ride.
1. This was spectacular and historic stuff from Jalen Hurts, who finished with 158 rushing yards on 16 carries, including a career-long 42-yarder and runs of 24 and 28 yards as well. There were a few scrambles in there, but it most of these were called runs, and I love it. It was clear from the start that the Packers just couldn’t stop him, and while I think the Eagles always need to be careful with how many carries Hurts gets, when he’s netting 10 yards per run, how can you stop calling them? Hurts also threw the ball efficiently and productively, going 16-for-28 for 153 yards and TD passes to Quez Watkins and A.J. Brown. And no interceptions once again. He’s got 17 passing TDs and 3 INTs this year. And 600 rushing yards. Hurts tied the 6th-most rushing yards ever by a QB and became just the third QB with 150 rushing yards and two TD passes in a game, joining Colin Kaepernick and Justin Fields. Every week, Hurts does something astonishing.
2. Sometimes you just get into these crazy back-and-forth games where neither team can stop the other, and the Eagles haven’t found themselves in an old-fashioned shootout in a long time, but it’s huge to win a game like this, especially against one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history (and Jordan Love?). It’s impressive winning 17-16 after trailing by 10 points like the Eagles did last week, and it’s just as impressive winning 40-33. Wins. Lots of wins. Just keep piling up wins. Throw all those Packers points out the window and take the dub. The Eagles are now 10-1 for only the fifth time in the franchise’s 90-year history. In 1949 and 2017 they won a title, and in 1980 and 2004 they lost in the Super Bowl. They’re one step closer to the No. 1 seed and I like their chances. We keep saying the Eagles are winning ugly, but the key word there is winning. Doesn’t matter how. The Eagles keep finding ways.
3. Man, did I love the way Miles Sanders ran the ball and the way Shane Steichen kept dialing up him – and the other backs. We talked on the pregame show about what an advantage the Eagles had against the Packers’ 25th-ranked run defense, and we saw it all night. Sanders recorded his seventh career 100-yard game, carrying 21 times for a career-high 143 yards and two touchdowns. He’s now got eight TDs this year after scoring nine in his first three seasons. Including Hurts’ 157 yards and 63 more yards from Kenny Gainwell and Boston Scott, the Eagles ran for an insane 363 yards, 2nd-most in franchise history and their most since they had 376 against Washington at Shibe Park in 1948. That’s 74 years ago. Hurts and Sanders became the first pair of Eagles ever with 140 rushing yards in a game. Run the ball, control the clock, wear the other team down, win the game. Incredible.
4. Even before Dallas Goedert got hurt, I was clamoring for the Eagles to get Quez Watkins involved again, and it’s been really encouraging to see that happen. Especially after his costly fumble at the Commanders’ 15-yard-line. Watkins was 8-for-113 with one TD in the Eagles’ first seven games, and he’s now 8-for-136 with one TD in the last four. He’s a really dangerous receiver. World-class speed, soft hands and has become a terrific route runner. Even when Goedert comes back, Watkins needs to stay in the rotation. He’s a unique weapon, and I don’t know how many teams out there can cover Brown, Goedert, Watkins and Devonta Smith.
5. A.J. Brown showed me something with a couple big plays after his latest fumble. That’s what you expect from a player of his caliber. Let’s face it, it’s been a rough stretch for Brown, with that deep ball from Jalen Hurts going through his hands against Washington and turning into a Darrick Frost interception that set up the Commanders’ go-ahead touchdown, that awful fumble in Indy that set up a Colts field goal and then another fumble Sunday night that Quay Walker returned 63 yards to the 13 to set up a Packers touchdown. So after his latest fumble, he had a 19-yard catch and run on the Eagles’ TD drive before halftime and then a six-yard TD, his first since Houston. He’s still not where he needs to be, but I like the way he found ways to help the team when he could have just gotten down on himself.
6. What an insanely clutch 54-yard field goal just before the 4th-quarter two-minute warning by Jake Elliott with the Eagles up seven. That’s his longest game-winner since the 61-yarder against the Giants in 2017. Elliott hasn’t had many chances to kick field goals this year. He came into Sunday night’s game with just nine attempts, fewest among regular kickers. High-leverage situation, and Elliott nailed it with room to spare.
7. Pivotal point in this game for me was the Eagles’ defensive stand to open the third quarter after Keisean Nixon’s 52-yard kick return gave the Packers possession just inside midfield in a 20-20 game. Javon Hargrave stuffed Aaron Jones for two yard on 1st down, Reed Blankenship stopped him for one yard on 2nd down, and with the Packers finally in known-pass on 3rd-and-7, Haason Reddick and Brandon Graham teamed up to sack Rodgers for a five-yard loss on 3rd down. The Packers were forced to punt, and the Eagles responded by driving 86 yards – Sanders was 4-for-65 on the drive – and taking a 34-20 lead on Hurts’ TD pass to A.J. Brown. Just a huge series for the defense.
8. Gotta give a ton of credit to Josiah Scott and Reed Blankenship, Scott playing in the slot in place of Avonte Maddox and Blankenship in place of Chauncey Gardner-Johnson. Neither one backed down from the challenge of facing one of the greatest QBs of all-time and each picked up his first career interception. Blankenship’s INT was particularly impressive considering he had played just two defensive snaps in his life before entering the game. He made a great read and break on the ball. First time two Eagles recorded their first career INTs in the same game since 2015, when Jordan Hicks and Eric Rowe did it against the Jets. Scott and Blankenship haven’t played a ton of football in their lives, and they made two of the bigger plays of the night against a Hall of Famer.
9. Nick Sirianni has been incredible this year, and I like being aggressive. But … 4th-and-1 with five minutes left in the first quarter at your own 37 up 13-7 with Aaron Rodgers on the other sideline? I didn’t like that one. I get that he trusts his offense to get a yard, and I get that he believes in his defense and I get that the Eagles are as good as anybody converting those. But if you give A-Rod a short field in that situation you’re basically conceding seven points. Aggressive is great, but not there. Punt them deep, and don’t give Aaron Rodgers a short field.
10. Special teams continues to just kill the Eagles – fake punts, blocked field goals, muffed punt returns - and Sunday night it was Keisean Nixon’s turn. He had a 38-yard kick return to set up the Packers’ first touchdown, a 52-yarder to open the second half and then a 53-yarder with two minutes left after the Eagles took a 10-point lead. How on Earth can you give up three long kick returns in one game? That ought to be impossible. Can this team just get through one game without some horrible special teams play? Apparently not. I understand nobody is going to fire a special teams coach in the middle of the season, but Michael Clay is flat-out not getting the job done.
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