Philadelphia Eagles

A.J. Brown turns in historic performance in Eagles debut


They drafted wide receivers. They traded for wide receivers. They signed free agent wide receivers.

They tried everything trying to get exactly this.

A superstar. A stud. A guy who can carry the team.

Howie Roseman and the Eagles finally got it right.

A.J. Brown showed the world Sunday what he did every day at training camp this summer.

And he did it in a game where the Eagles desperately needed him.

This was magical.

In his first game as an Eagle and his first game playing with Jalen Hurts, Brown turned in the greatest opening-day performance by an Eagle in 50 years Sunday in Detroit with 10 catches for 155 electrifying yards in the Eagles’ closer-than-it-should-have-been 38-35 win over the Lions at Ford Field.

“Sometimes the ball just keeps finding you, and I got hot early,” Brown said.

“We knew we had weapons on offense and today it was my day. Next week it could be DeVonta’s day or Dallas’s day. We have a lot of skill players on offense and trying to get everybody the ball is probably really hard on Shane (Steichen).”

Brown had 3-for-46 in the first quarter and 6-for-128 in the first half before adding four catches for 27 yards after halftime.

He broke a franchise record for most yards by a receiver in his first game as an Eagle previously held by Donte’ Stallworth, who had 141 yards in the 2006 opener vs. the Texans in Houston.

“I know there were some greats that played here before me, and it’s kind of overwhelming that I get to scratch my name in that book,” he said. “I’m blessed.”

And the Eagles are blessed to have him.

All it took was the 18th pick in the draft and a 3rd-round pick to land Brown from the Titans (whose leading receiver had 66 yards in their loss to the Giants Sunday).

His 155 yards are 3rd-most ever by an Eagle in an opener and most in 50 years. Tommy McDonald had 179 yards in the 1963 season-opening tie with the Steelers at Franklin Field, and Harold Jackson had 161 in an opening-day loss to the Cowboys at Texas Stadium in 1972.

It’s also the most yards by an Eagle in any game since Alshon Jeffery had 160 against the Rams in L.A. in 2018.

And Brown tied his career yardage high set against the Colts in Indianapolis in October for the Titans.

The Eagles needed every one of his yards.

Brown had more than half the Eagles’ catches (10 of 18) and yards (155 of 243). Without him, this is no contest.

“Honestly, he just made a lot of catches and a lot of good plays,” Lions safety Tracey Walker said. “Jalen Hurts, shoutout to him for putting the ball in good spots and A.J. Brown making good catches.

"Sometimes you can have great coverage and at the end of the day, the quarterback and receiver make a better throw and catch.”

Let’s be honest: Brown is here because Jalen Reagor, the Eagles’ 1st-round pick two years ago, was an epic failure.

Brown had more yards Sunday than Reagor had in his last 11 games in an Eagles uniform.

Hurts showed a lot of trust in Brown, more than he’s ever shown in another receiver, and with good reason. He didn’t wait until he was wide open. Brown is tough and aggressive and loves to fight for the ball, and Hurts gave him opportunities to do it.

On their 54-yard hookup late in the second quarter, he trusted Brown to come down with a contested ball, and he fought off Lions corner Will Harris, reeling the ball in even though Harris was grabbing him and yanking his jersey.

But his most remarkable catch may have been the underthrown 18-yarder in the first quarter that he miraculously snagged about an inch off the ground.

“Just thankful,” Brown said post-game. “Just thankful I get another opportunity to play the game I love. This is my job and it’s the best job in the world.”

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