Hurts strengthens MVP bid as he leads Eagles to 11-1 record

Hurts
Philadelphia Eagles’ Jalen Hurts looks to pass during the first half of an NFL football game against the Tennessee Titans, Sunday, Dec. 4, 2022, in Philadelphia.
AP Photo/Matt Slocum

By DAN GELSTON AP Sports Writer

Good luck trying to find a game this season where Jalen Hurts hasn’t set a Philadelphia Eagles’ record or achieved some sort of milestone not yet reached in the NFL.

In his latest, Hurts became the first player in franchise history with 350-plus yards passing, three passing touchdowns and a rushing score in one game. That feat came a week after Hurts set an Eagles’ single-game rushing record for a quarterback.

The swole numbers all help build Hurts’ MVP bid.

And they keep the Eagles as the team to beat in the NFC and on the short list of teams that can win a Super Bowl.

Philadelphia’s 35-10 win over the Tennessee Titans on Sunday made it 11-1 for just the fourth time in franchise history. The 1949 Eagles won the NFL championship. The 1980 and 2004 teams lost in the Super Bowl.

Take a look around the NFC and it’s hard to find a team that can make a serious case that it can knock off the Eagles in the playoffs, even though anything can happen in one postseason game.

“It’s the same old message with me,” Hurts said. “We just want to continue to grow, to continue to rise, to continue to learn from everything we do good and bad, and grow from it.”

The Eagles are fortunate Hurts’ play is more dynamic than his quotes. But the milquetoast performance at the podium belies an aggressiveness at QB that allows him to bust games open on land ( 157 yards rushing vs. the Packers ) and through the air (380 yards passing vs. the Titans).

Hurts this season has 2,940 yards passing, 20 TDs, only three interceptions and a 108.3 passer rating on 243-of-357 (68.1%) passing. He also has 609 yards rushing and nine touchdowns.

Hurts could become the first Philadelphia Eagle to ever win NFL MVP.

“I’m not going to try and put any pressure on him. He’s been doing an amazing job on the ground and throwing the ball,” wide receiver A.J. Brown said. “We’ll leave all the MVP stuff to who votes for all that. But, he’s doing a great job leading this team. He’s a great leader. He’s still climbing. He wants the team to be great.”

WHAT’S WORKING

For the first time this season, the beleaguered special teams unit had an all-around useful outing. Britain Covey averaged 17.5 yards on six punt returns and ripped off runs of 21, 25 and 27 yards. Boston Scott added a 26-yard kickoff return. The Eagles didn’t allow any game-changing returns, nor did the unit make any kind of silly mistakes that extended drives.

“It was just a spark that we really needed. It was,” Eagles coach Nick Sirianni said. “That’s why it felt like just a complete game by our entire team today.”

WHAT NEEDS HELP

Perhaps a sign of just how much things are rolling for the Eagles this season is that a whopping 12 penalties didn’t really cost them much at all. Yes, an offside call on third down extended the drive of the Titans’ only touchdown of the game. And seven false starts in a home game is something the team clearly needs to clean up. The Eagles were even penalized nine times for 60 yards in the first half. But it was hard to remember any of the calls after such a scintillating offensive performance.

STOCK UP

DeVonta Smith, the 2020 Heisman Trophy winner and 10th overall pick in the 2021 draft, has said all the right things about putting team over personal stats. But except for one 169-yard game against Washington that made the Eagles 3-0, Smith largely took a backseat to Brown. Yet he had five catches for 102 yards and a touchdown and teamed with Brown (eight catches, 119 yards and two touchdowns) to become the first Eagles receivers to top 100 yards receiving since Nelson Agholor and Zach Ertz on Dec. 23, 2018.

“DeVonta has been going the whole year. He’s had some really big games,” Sirianni said. “Any time you get two guys that have 100 yards, that’s pretty sweet and makes you feel good as a coach.”

STOCK DOWN

Eagles C Jason Kelce was flagged for a false start on the opening drive and called for holding later in the game.

INJURED

WR Quez Watkins (shoulder) and LB Shaun Bradley (hamstring) were hurt.

KEY NUMBER

350 — The Eagles became the first team to throw for 350-plus yards (386 total) after rushing for 350-plus yards the previous week (363 vs. Green Bay) since the 1987 Los Angeles Raiders (356 rushing on Nov. 30, 1987; 360 passing on Dec. 6, 1987).

NEXT STEPS

The Eagles are on pace to play all playoffs games at the Linc. But a potentially bumpy three-game road trip awaits starting Sunday at the New York Giants. They follow by visiting Chicago and Dallas.

More from our Sister Sites