The week’s talk in Philadelphia was about the health of Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts(shoulder). Would the Eagles be able to run their full offense with Hurts in the lineup? Well, on Saturday night against the New York Giants in the Divisional Round of the playoffs, he answered the question, and it was a resounding, Yes!
Hurts was 16/24 for 154 yards, two touchdowns, and he also rushed for 34 yards and a touchdown, and the Eagles scored touchdowns on four of their five first-half drives as Philadelphia routed the Giants 38-7 at Lincoln Financial Field to advance to the NFC Championship Game for the first time since 2017.
The Eagles defeated the Giants three times this season and outscored them 108-45 in those three games.
With Hurts in the lineup, the running game was potent as they rushed for 268 yards, which is second-most in team playoff history. Kenneth Gainwell ran for 112 yards and a touchdown; Miles Sanders had 90 yards, and Boston Scott added a rushing touchdown.
Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni says Hurts distributes like a point guard.
“Jalen [Hurts] is always going to help the running game big time because of what he can do and the threat he poses on the backside,” Sirianni said. “Even if he is not carrying it or even if he is not having runs to him, he is still going to affect the game. That’s what he did. He affected the game because he demands attention on the backside. Not only that, but he runs the show out there. He is like a point guard. He is getting us to good checks. We have checks on. That’s a good defense. They pose a lot of problems.”
According to Sirianni, Hurts’ impact is Jordan-like.
“To have him out there is like — I know this is high praise, but to have him out there is like having — I shouldn’t even go there — it’s like having Michael Jordan out there,” he said. “He’s your leader. He’s your guy.
“Hopefully that’s the biggest respect I can pay to him comparing his ability to being on the field to a Michael Jordan type. This guy leads. He brings this calmness to the entire team. He plays great football. He’s as tough as they come.
“Yeah, I mean, to me, nobody has played any better football than him this year.”
Sanders said Hurts looked like himself against the Giants.
“Seemed like the old Jalen to me,” he said. “I’m not going to lie. Just proud of him. He asks everybody for their best, and we’re going to do that just for him because he gives us our best.”
Hurts knows that opportunities to get to the Super Bowl don’t always come, and the Eagles must seize the moment.
“You work really hard for these opportunities,” he said. “They’re not a dime a dozen. You work really hard for them, and I’m just very eager to continue to grow. I’m eager to go through anything and everything with this group. It’s a special thing, it’s a special feeling, and it’s a special type of togetherness that we have, and I don’t think it’s something that I’ve experienced quite like this for sure on the NFL level. We just want to continue to grow together, hold each other accountable, and believe in one another. I think we just came out hungry.”
The Eagles had more talent and were better than the Giants, so this result is not unexpected. However, the next round will be challenging, and they must keep that hunger.