After the biggest game of his career, after he and DeVonta Smith combined for over 300 yards, after yet another dramatic win, all A.J. Brown could think about was the plays he didn’t make.
“I've still got a lot of stuff I need to clean up,” he said. “I feel like I could have had an even bigger day today.” Bigger than a career-high 181 yards? “Pushing 300, yeah,” Brown said.
He was serious. That’s the way it is around this team. Nobody is ever satisfied. No matter what they accomplish, they always feel like they could have done more.
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But how much more could Brown and Smith have done Sunday?
They combined for more yards than any Eagles wide receiver duo ever Sunday in the Eagles’ 25-20 win over the Bears.
With nine catches for 182 yards, Brown obliterated his career high of 156 yards set in October against the Steelers. And with five catches for 126 yards, Smith recorded the 2nd-biggest game of his career.
Their 307 yards are most by any Eagles duo since Kevin Curtis (221) and Brian Westbrook (111) combined for 332 yards in the Eagles’ 56-21 win over the Lions at the Linc in 2007 and the most by two Eagles wide receivers since Tommy McDonald (187) and Bobby Walston (127) combined for 314 in the Eagles’ 30-27 loss to the Cards at Franklin Field in 1961. And Walston wasn’t exactly a wide receiver, he was an end before the term “wide receiver” was used.
Either way, this was a massive performance by the Eagles' two-headed wide receiver monster.
Even if Brown was more interested in talking about what the Eagles didn’t do on a cold, windy, sloppy, ugly day at Soldier Field.
“We have to clean up the (turnovers), most importantly,” he said. “Regardless of (how many yards) we threw for, whatever, we can't do that. We've got to clean our stuff up because when it matters, it's going to be hard (to win like that). Stuff like that can't happen. Sometimes there ain't no coming back from that.”
The Eagles were able to record their club-record-tying 13th win despite three turnovers largely because of Brown and Smith and their uncanny relationship with Hurts. Smith was brilliant early, with three catches for 104 yards before halftime, and Brown was brilliant late, with 7-for-157 after halftime.
Good luck stopping either of these guys, much less both of them.
Smith was asked about how he embraced Brown when the Eagles signed him, even though it cost him the No. 1 receiver spot.
“Him coming (to the Eagles) was good,” Smith said about Brown. “No. 1, because it kind of gets some of the attention off of me. And then just being able to learn from a guy like him. Great receiver, great leader, great guy overall. Just him coming in and teaching me some things that allowed me to elevate my game.”
Smith had catches of 14, 21, 38 and 45 yards, and Brown had catches of 16, 20, 29 and 68 yards.
Every time the Eagles needed a big play, Hurts found Brown or Smith.
Two years ago, the Eagles’ leading wide receivers were Travis Fulgham, Greg Ward and Jalen Reagor.
Howie Roseman knew he had to remake the position, and now the Eagles are on the brink of having two 1,000-yard receivers for the first time in franchise history.
“I think the work we put in in the off-season is a testament to what's going on now on the field,” Hurts said. “I think we work really hard … and nobody sees and we get to go out there and express that on Sundays. We stay together. We stick together. That's what we want to do. We want to have unwavering belief in one another. And we have a true eagerness to do stuff the right way, the way we want to do it.”
Brown is up to 1,201 yards, already the 7th-most in Eagles history and 5th-most in the NFL this year. Smith now has 901 yards, 15 shy of his rookie total. In the five games Dallas Goedert has missed, he’s averaged 84 yards.
“They brought him in for the things he did today,” Smith said of Brown. “The energy he brings to the team just brings out the best in everybody. Just being the best versions of ourselves, making the most out of our opportunities.”
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