You want a big win over a quality opponent?
Does 35-10 over the 7-4 Titans work?
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The Eagles improved to a league-best 11-1 with an absolute dismantling of the AFC South-leading Titans, and that’s three wins in a row since their only loss of the season.
Jalen Hurts was brilliant, A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith each went over 100 yards, the defense shut down Derrick Henry and allowed just 209 yards, and this one was no contest by the middle of the third quarter.
This team is something else.
Here’s our 10 Instant Observations off a huge Eagles win!
1. I’m not sure what Hurts has to do to prove he’s one of the NFL’s best quarterbacks, but if this performance doesn’t do it I don’t know what will. This was magic. Absolute magic from the 24-year-old Hurts, and he’s playing at such a consistently dazzling level even the grumpiest, most miserable Carson Wentz backer has to admit that this kid is a flat-out star and the Eagles have one of the most exciting young quarterbacks the league has seen in years. You want 150 rushing yards? Check. You want 380 passing yards and three touchdowns? Check. What can’t he do? Hurts was 29-for-39 for 380 yards, three TDs passing, one rushing, no interceptions again and a 130.3 passer rating Sunday. He’s only the fifth QB in NFL history with 375 passing yards, 74 percent accuracy, three TD passes, a rushing TD and no interceptions in a game. He’s now 214-for-318 for 2,560 yards this year with 20 touchdowns and three interceptions and nine rushing touchdowns, and the team he so brilliantly leads is 11-1 and on top of the NFL world. And if you don’t like it, then go become a Cowboys fan or a Commanders fan or something, because if you’re not 100 percent on board with Hurts at this point there’s no hope for you and you’re not a real Eagles fan and you never were. The kid is astonishing.
2. Key point in this game for me was the defensive stand late in the second quarter and keeping the Titans out of the end zone when they had a 1st-and-10 on the Eagles’ 17-yard-line trailing by seven. You had to like the matchup between Josh Sweat and fill-in Titans left tackle Dennis Daley, and on the key 3rd-and-6 Sweat got past Daley and sacked Ryan Tannehill for a five-yard loss. The Titans settled for a field goal, the Eagles marched down the field and took a 21-10 lead before halftime, and the rout was on. The Titans didn’t score again and managed just 47 yards on their last seven drives. This was a monster defensive performance overall. The Eagles tackled as well as they have all year, they matched the Titans’ physicality, they were tremendous in coverage and they pressured Tannehill all day. And get this: The Eagles defense has allowed one touchdown after halftime in its last six games.
3. That sequence in the first quarter where Hurts hit Brown on back-to-back 40-yard touchdowns — the first one didn’t count — was a pretty powerful statement of where Hurts and this Eagles passing game is. Unstoppable is a pretty good word for it. The first one, down the right sideline, looked like a TD and was ruled a touchdown, but Brown did step a couple inches out of bounds at the 1-yard-line after he beat Titans corner Kristian Fulton, and it was reversed to an incomplete pass. So on the next play, Shane Steichen dials up the same darn thing on the opposite side of the field. This time Fulton fell down (after interfering with Brown), and it was an easy 40-yard TD. This one counted. The way it struck me was, “We can do whatever we want whenever we want, and you can’t stop us.” What a thing. As a defense, that’s gotta be crushing. You get a break on the call and then you allow the same thing one snap later? Hurts and his receivers just have this mentality that they can strike from anywhere on the field at any time, and that makes them incredibly difficult to stop.
4. And how good were Brown and Smith? They became the first pair of Eagles wide receivers to surpass 100 yards in the same game since DeSean Jackson and Riley Cooper in Oakland in 2013 in the Nick Foles seven-touchdown game. Both had long touchdowns, both made difficult catches, both came up huge all afternoon. Obviously, this game meant a lot to Brown, but he didn’t let it become a distraction and he picked up his first 100-yard game since Pittsburgh. It’s been a tough stretch for Brown — he averaged 47 yards the last four games with that bobble-turned-INT vs. Washington and two fumbles — but he’s an elite player and we all saw that Sunday. And for Smith, his first 100-yard game since Week 3 at Washington, and now they’re both back on pace for 1,000 yards. Hurts is so lucky to have these guys. Brown is 25. Hurts is 24. Smith is 24. The NFL better get used to these guys making plays all over the place.
5. A week ago, the Eagles faced a defense ranked eighth against the pass and 32nd against the run, and they ran 49 times and threw 28 times. This time, they faced a defense ranked 29th against the pass and third against the run. And they ran 24 times and threw 41 times. Seems like the obvious thing to do, attacking a team’s weakness, but how many play callers have we seen that are too smart to do the obvious thing and are so intent on running everything in their fancy playbook and trying to take the defense by surprise and going against the grain and all that? Last week, the Eagles ran at will against that weak Packers front, and Steichen just kept dialing it up. This week, Hurts just kept making plays in the passing game, and Steichen just kept dialing it up. Didn’t try to outsmart anybody. Didn’t try to get cute. Just kept attacking the opponent’s weakness. I freaking love that. This team can win in so many ways, and the last two weeks really hammered that home.
6. I’m not sure if it’s a little decrease in his reps or the presence of Ndamukong Suh and Linval Joseph or something else, but Fletcher Coz the last couple weeks has really turned back the clock and played some of his best football in a long time. Cox got off to a good start the first couple games of the season but came back down to Earth pretty quickly. But the Packers game was his best of the year, and he was even better Sunday against the Titans. Really made a huge impact against the run and also picked up his fifth sack of the year.
7. Speaking of run defense, the best thing the Eagles did Sunday was shut down Henry early and then build a big enough lead where the Titans couldn’t lean on Henry and had to pass every down. The Titans have one way to win games. Shut down the other team and let Henry run wild. The Eagles simply didn’t let it happen. Henry ran 11 times for just 30 yards — 2.7 per carry — with a long gain of eight yards. After halftime, with the Eagles in command, he was just 4-for-9. A total non-factor. Once Tannehill started chucking it every down, it was over. The Eagles recorded six sacks and held the Titans to 86 net passing yards. The coaches developed a perfect plan for the Titans, and the players carried it out. That’s a beautiful thing.
8. I’ve been clamoring for the Eagles to throw to the backs more. They were last in the NFL in with 123 running back receiving yards coming into the game, but Miles Sanders, Kenny Gainwell and Boston Scott can all make plays in the receiving game. The backs on Sunday combined for a season-high 57 yards, and Gainwell in particular was terrific, with a 14-yard catch and run on the Smith TD drive and a 10-yarder on the TD drive at the end of the first half. As long as Dallas Goedert is out, the more guys Steichen involves in the passing game the better.
9. They overcame it, but nine penalties in the first 20 minutes of a game? What the heck is going on here? The Eagles overcame most of them — Sweat’s offside on a 3rd-and-4 gave the Titans a first down on their TD drive — but that’s actually been a problem for a while now. The Eagles finished with 12 penalties for 80 yards (a 13th offset), seven of them false starts, nine on the offensive line. They’ve now allowed 41 penalties in their last six games, and that’s just way too much and something they’ve got to clean up.
10. Terrific effort all around by Michael Clay’s beleaguered special teams units. Practice squad elevation Christian Ellis got it started with a huge hit on Arryn Siposs’s first punt, Britain Covey had the three longest punt returns of his career — 21, 25 and 27 yards — and averaged 17.5 on five returns, punt and kick coverage was sound, and we never got the weekly special teams breakdown. That’s huge. Need more of this.