All week, A.J. Brown tried to convince us it was just another game.
Nobody believed him.
Brown, in his first game against the team that didn’t want to pay him, lit up the Titans for 119 yards and two long touchdowns in the Eagles’ 35-10 demolition of the AFC South leaders at the Linc Sunday.
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And when it was over, Brown and his teammates admitted it wasn't even close to just another game.
“It was very important to him,” Fletcher Cox said. “Obviously, it’s always great to be able to play a team that you used to be on. He got traded and I’m sure he had a chip on his shoulder, going into this game. And it showed today. He played with a lot of passion and he played hard, which he always does. He didn’t do anything out of the ordinary. He was just being A.J. Brown.”
Brown found the perfect balance between fury at the team that traded him away in April and focus on the task at hand.
He played with vengeance but didn’t let that vengeance affect his game.
And in the end, he had the last laugh on Titans general manager Jon Robinson, who elected to trade Brown instead of paying him fair market value.
“This one meant a lot to me,” Brown said. “Early on, I had mixed emotions about the trade and everything, and I’d be lying to you to say I didn’t circle this game.
“It wasn’t tough for me. I just removed myself the past couple weeks and was working on myself and just trying to be consistent. That was my focus. It wasn’t about who we were playing. Of course I wanted to have a good day, but I just kept my emotions down all week and just focused on what I needed to focus on, and today I let it all loose.”
The Eagles traded the 18th pick in this year’s draft and a 2022 third-round pick for Brown and promptly paid him $100 million over four years, making him the fourth-highest-paid WR in the NFL.
How much do the Titans miss him? They had 122 net passing yards and one TD Sunday. Brown had 119 yards and two TDs by himself.
“I think the whole world knew what it meant to him based on who he is, how he is and how he responds to certain things,” Jalen Hurts said. “I’m happy that he put on a show. He’s a special player and a good friend. He’s a real special player.
“I knew how (the trade) made him feel (and) I knew his emotions towards it. But I think as a professional you have to be able to manage those emotions regardless of the circumstance. I’m proud of how he handled this week, I’m proud of how he handled it. He has swagger. He has a confidence to himself. He has a unique physical ability to do what he does at a high level.”
Brown had scuffled a bit the last month, averaging 43 yards over the four previous games with two fumbles and a drop that turned into an interception after averaging 94 the first seven games.
So much for the slump.
Brown was brilliant Sunday, contributing a 40-yard touchdown in the second quarter and a 29-yarder in the third quarter.
Through 12 games, he has 61 catches for 950 yards and nine touchdowns. The only Eagles with 950 yards and nine TDs through 12 games are Hall of Famer Pete Pihos in 1953, Pete Retzlaff in 9165, Mike Quick in 1983, Terrell Owens in 2004 and Jeremy Maclin in 2014.
He’s the first Eagles receiver with five 25-yard TDs in a season since DeSean Jackson in 2013.
“Of course, he got himself up a little bit more (than usual),” Nick Sirianni said. “As much as we're telling him, ‘Don't, don't, just let it happen naturally,’ human nature is going to take over there. I felt like he went through his process throughout the week to get himself ready to play. That's what's important. You have to go through that part.
“Then you go through that part and then you get some more emotions in a game. That happens. Look at me on the sideline sometimes. I'm pretty emotional over there, too. Again, he played a great game. It was good to see him go out and play the game against his former team.”
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