Jalen Hurts takes huge, necessary step with win over Cowboys

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It did not go well last time Jalen Hurts faced the Cowboys.

At all.

It was Week 3 last year at AT&T Stadium, and Anthony Brown picked off Hurts’ third pass of the game and then Trevon Diggs picked off his third pass of the second half and returned it 59 yards for a touchdown.

By the time the game was over, the Eagles had lost 41-21, and the Cowboys were off and running to the NFC East title.

Hurts isn’t one to use the past as motivation, but he admitted that game was on his mind Sunday night.

“I try to treat each game independently,” he said. “But you’d be naive to think that I hadn’t remembered that. I try to find value in all my experiences and that was a valuable experience for me.”

Hurts didn’t play in the rematch on the last day of the season, so Sunday night was his first chance at redemption since that game in Arlington over a year ago.

Things went a little differently this time.

Hurts didn’t put up gaudy numbers, but make no mistake about it. This was a huge step for the 24-year-old quarterback.

A national TV game against your biggest rival and their top-5 defense with not only the division lead but potential No. 1 seed implications? 

This was a huge challenge, and Hurts answered it beautifully.

In his 25th career start, Hurts took on a Cowboys team that had won four straight games, had allowed only five touchdowns all year and had won seven of the last nine matchups against the Eagles. 

Under siege in the second half with Lane Johnson out of the game, Hurts led the Eagles to a huge 26-17 win that solidified the Eagles’ hold on the top spot in the conference.

“You just want to find value in every experience you have and I think this team was hungry for it,” he said. “Eager to come out here and play in the big-time game. 

“I look at the people in the locker room and this is what amazes me, and this is what I love about it the most is when I’m talking to the guys, breaking the huddle down, like I feel their energy, I feel their hunger, I feel their dissatisfaction. I feel all of this. 

“A guy in my shoes, that’s what I love because I know that I have guys that are going to step up, guys around me that are going to go regardless. They know that we have to do that together. 

“We built this mentality. We built this sense of not being satisfied. We’ve had that. We will never take this feeling of winning for granted. But we are always going to be hungry. We are always going to be eager to fix the things that we need to fix and grow. It’s a journey, you know, and we take that journey head on and we just want to learn from it every day.”

Hurts became the youngest quarterback in Eagles history to fashion a 100 passer rating against the Cowboys.

He completed 15 of 25 passes for 155 yards, touchdowns to A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith and, for the sixth time in his last eight games, no interceptions.

His 104.6 passer rating is highest – by far – against the Cowboys this year, and he added three more 1st-down scrambles on third down. 

Hurts has now converted an NFL-best 13 of 15 tries on third- or fourth down and 1 yard to go. 

Six games in, Hurts has the sixth-highest passer rating in football, the ninth-highest completion percentage, the third-best interception ratio, third-highest yards-per-attempt and the fourth-most total touchdowns.

The Eagles are 6-0 and Hurts keeps finding ways to lead this team to wins. It hasn’t always been easy and it hasn’t always been pretty, but this is a team that stays calm no matter what, and that’s a true reflection of Hurts’ leadership.

“I think that’s the mentality of this football team, controlling the things you can, staying the course and attacking every play,” Hurts said. “Taking advantage of opportunities when they are presented to you. I think we have a long way to go as a football team in terms of our growth and our development. 

“I think the beautiful part about this football team is regardless of the circumstance, regardless of how it looks, we stick together. We’ve shown that throughout this first six-week stint. We just want to continue to grow. Continue to grow together. 

“It’s not going to be easy, it’s a climb. The higher you get in that climb, it gets more treacherous. … We just want to continue to grow together.”

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