Send this one to the MVP voters.
Jalen Hurts put on a 2nd-half masterclass Sunday afternoon, rallying the Eagles to a wild 37-34 overtime win over the Bills at the Linc.
Once again, Hurts was ineffective in the first half. Once again, the Eagles trailed an AFC powerhouse by 10 points at halftime. Once again, Hurts shrugged it all off and led the Eagles to a dramatic win.
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First half Hurts: 4-for-11, 33 yards, no TDs, one INT, passer rating of 7.0.
Second-half Hurts: 14-for-20, 167 yards, three TDs, a rushing TD, no INTs, passer rating of 134.8.
Here’s our 10 Observations from another dramatic Eagles win:
1. The Eagles have been living life dangerously all year. They’ve played exactly one game – Tampa in Week 3 – that hasn’t been a one-possession game in the fourth quarter. They fall behind early and catch up late. They hang on for dear life in the final seconds. They make last-minute plays, get last-minute bounces, take advantage of last-minute turnovers. They became the first team since the 1976 Raiders to get to 9-1 without winning a game by more than 14 points and now they’re the first team to get to 10-1 without winning a game by more than 14 points since before the 1976 Raiders – because they lost 26-7 in Week 11 to the Eagles at the Vet – Roman Gabriel over Ken Stabler. It’s impossible to do what the Eagles are doing. Just the math alone says it’s impossible to win every close game you play. But this team does it. We keep saying “All they know how to do is win,” and how can you argue with that at this point? They keep winning games they have no business winning and I don’t see any reason for them to stop. A remarkable team.
2. Jalen Hurts can throw a ball really well and he can run really fast, but Hurts’ greatest ability is forgetting. Forgetting turnovers. Forgetting mistakes. Forgetting sacks. Forgetting adversity in whatever form it takes. He was terrible in the first half Monday night in Kansas City – just 20 net passing yards and an interception. He was terrible in the first half Sunday vs. the Bills. Just 30 net passing yards and an interception. It doesn’t matter. It just doesn’t. Hurts has this insane ability to remain confident and focused and determined no matter how bad things are going unlike anybody I’ve ever seen. Things never snowball. They just get better. Hurts is different. And his calmness in the face of adversity rubs off on all his teammates and really everybody in the building. I’ve never seen anything like it.
3. How rare is this? This is only the third time in franchise history the Eagles have won back-to-back games after trailing by double digits at halftime. In 1995, they beat the Cowboys 20-17 at the Vet behind Rodney Peete after trailing 17-6 and then beat the Cards a week later at the Vet 21-10 after trailing 17-7. And in the 2014 opener, they beat the Jaguars at the Linc 34-17 after trailing 17-0 at halftime and then a week later beat the Colts in Indy 30-27 after trailing 17-6 going into the third quarter, both with Nick Foles at QB.
4. Overall, the Bills piled up 505 yards on the Eagles – the most the Eagles have allowed at the Linc since Washington had 521 in 2015 and the most they’ve allowed in any game since Doug Pederson was head coach. Allen threw 51 passes and the Eagles sacked him once. They allowed 339 passing yards and 173 rushing yards. The Bills were 13-for-22 on third down and 1-for-1 on fourth down. The Eagles forced two turnovers, but overall, the Eagles’ worst defensive performance over the last couple years. A lot to fix here.
5. After Kenny Gainwell’s career-long 23-yard run to set up the first touchdown, three of the Eagles’ next 18 plays were running back runs. Then midway through the third quarter, D’Andre Swift gets a carry and goes 36 yards, again to set up a touchdown. The Bills’ run defense is not very good – they were allowing 4.5 yards per carry through last week – and we’ve seen Brian Johnson do this at times where he just forgets about running the ball. One of the biggest plays of the game was Swift’s 16-yard run down to the 12-yard-line one play before Hurts’ game-winning touchdown, and I’m glad Johnson called that because I love a fresh Swift against a gassed defense. But Johnson needs to stick with the ground attack because the Eagles are really good at it, and establishing an authoritative running game only makes the passing game more effective. I’m not saying run it 70 percent of the time or even 50 percent of the time. Just run the dang thing enough to keep defenses off balance.
6. One of the coolest developments the last few weeks has been DeVonta Smith’s emergence as an elite receiver. He’s always been good. Most of the time he’s been very good. And he’s had clutch moments and huge catches and big plays. But these last four games he’s been better than ever. With 106 yards against the Bills, Smith has 23 catches for 355 yards and three TDs in his last four games – all wins. And what’s really significant about that is that A.J,. Brown is drawing so much attention from defenses – he has 111 yards the last three weeks – and especially with Dallas Goedert out the Eagles desperately needed another weapon to come up huge, and Smith has done that. He’s now on pace for 85 catches for 1,140 yards and eight TDs. And the last month he’s been better than ever right when the Eagles needed him the most.
7. One of my favorite plays in this game came at the end of the Bills’ overtime drive. It was 2nd-and-10 and the Bills were on the Eagles’ 26-yard-line, and a touchdown wins the game, and Allen – who had been gashing the Eagles with his legs all night – took off scrambling to the left. And there’s 335-pound Jordan Davis chasing him with all his might and eventually running him out of bounds for a four-yard gain. Davis collapsed in exhaustion at the end of the play on the Bills’ sideline – with Fletcher Cox out, Davis played a ton of snaps – but that play might have saved the game for the Eagles. Davis has been playing lights out, and that might have been his biggest play as a pro. Allen is one of the fastest, toughest, most elusive quarterbacks in NFL history. He ran nine times for 81 yards and a couple TDs Sunday. But when the Eagles had to stop him, Davis found a way.
8. How about Jack Driscoll? Not easy learning a few hours before kickoff you’re going to be making your first start of the year against a tough, physical Bills defensive front. With Lane Johnson out, Driscoll made his eighth career start at right tackle and he did it without a single 1st-team rep all week because Johnson practiced all week. Driscoll did not have a great training camp, and he struggled badly when he had to play against the Jets when Johnson had to leave the game early. But he played at a very high level start to finish Sunday, and the Eagles sure needed every bit of it. You always miss a Lane Johnson, but Driscoll held it down as well as you could have ever imagined. Hopefully, Johnson is back for the Cowboys, but if he’s not you have to feel a lot better about Driscoll now than coming into the game.
9. The 29-yard touchdown pass to Olamide Zaccheaus touchdown that gave the Eagles the lead early in the fourth quarter was one of the sweetest touchdowns Hurts has ever thrown. A total scramble drill and once you see him out there pointing to a receiver and wordlessly telling him what to do, you know they’re making it up on the spot. And what made that play even sweeter was that it wasn’t A.J. Brown or DeVonta Smith catching it, it was a guy who had six catches all year and had just 29 total receiving yards in the Eagles’ last seven games. You’ve got to love a guy who hasn’t been a part of things in a couple months making a huge play when he finally gets the opportunity. And that’s something a lot of guys on this team have done. But Zaccheaus was ready. He hasn’t had the season he wanted. But when the Eagles needed him, man, he was ready.
10. Can we talk about Jake Elliott? He became only the fifth kicker in NFL history with three career field goals of at least 59 yards, and he’s so freaking clutch kicking crazy long field goals. He’s now 9-for-9 on game-tying or game-winning field goals in his career and 3-for-3 from 59 yards and out. And he’s 6-for-7 this year from 50 yards and out. That game-tying 59-yarder at the end of the fourth quarter was a ridiculously difficult kick in terrible conditions, and he really had to line-drive it to get it through the uprights. But he did it. He always does. He’s incredible. He’s as clutch as any Eagles player who’s ever worn the uniform.