PHILADELPHIA — The Philadelphia Eagles simply weren’t the Eagles when Jalen Hurts wasn’t on the sector late within the season. Even when he returned and performed damage, they only did not appear like themselves.
However on Saturday night time, the actual Jalen Hurts returned simply in time for the divisional playoffs. And for the Eagles, he made all of the distinction on the planet.
“To have him out there may be like — I should not even go there — but it surely’s like having Michael Jordan on the market,” Eagles coach Nick Sirianni mentioned after Philadelphia pounded the New York Giants 38-7. “He is your chief. He is your man. This man leads, he brings this calmness to the whole workforce, he performs nice soccer, he is as assured as they arrive.
“To me, there ain’t no one that is performed any higher soccer than him.”
That was extremely “excessive reward” for Hurts, as even Sirianni admitted, and doubtless even slightly bit excessive. However for the Eagles (14-4) — who will now face both the Dallas Cowboys or San Francisco 49ers within the NFC Championship Sport again right here in Philly subsequent Sunday — it would not really feel like a lot of an exaggeration. That is simply how vital the 24-year-old quarterback is to this workforce.
And it goes means past his numbers, which weren’t precisely Jordan-esque within the second playoff recreation of his profession. Hurts accomplished 16 of 24 passes for 154 yards and two touchdowns and ran 9 occasions for 34 yards and a landing — a good output to make certain. But it surely was extra about how he helped open every thing up for an offense that merely could not be stopped.
With Hurts again, the Eagles ran for a ridiculous 268 yards. And so they completely dominated the Giants protection within the first half, after they constructed a 28-0 lead. They have been out-gaining the Giants then 258 yards to 64. That they had 18 first downs to the Giants’ three. Heck, that they had extra touchdowns (4) than the Giants had first downs. They have been out-rushing Giants 140-20. They held the ball for 20:12 to the Giants’ 9:48.
Within the NFL, beat-downs do not come way more thorough than that.
And no, it wasn’t all Hurts. The Eagles’ protection was throughout Giants quarterback Daniel Jones (15 of 27, 135 yards and an interception). They gave no room to Saquon Barkley, who had simply seven of his 61 yards within the first half. And the Eagles’ offensive line completely manhandled a Giants defensive entrance that features all-pro defensive deal with Dexter Lawrence and Leonard Williams.
However Hurts is what knocked the Giants off-kilter. The final time they confronted him, within the regular-season finale, he was nonetheless nursing a sprained proper shoulder—an harm nonetheless so dangerous the Eagles solely known as one operating play for him in that total recreation. However on this recreation, Sirianni and offensive coordinator Shane Steichen made it clear from the start that “nothing was off limits”.
Hurts was utterly unleashed, proper from the beginning, and that put Wink Martindale’s blitz-happy Giants protection instantly again on its heels.
“We needed to run the issues that have been greatest for us, figuring out that Jalen had no limitations,” Sirianni mentioned. “We do not assume like, ‘Hey, we will present you guys.’ He was able to go and we did the issues that labored greatest for us.”
They made that very clear on the opening drive of the sport — a fast, eight-play, 75-yard march for a landing. On the second play, Hurts erased any doubts in regards to the power of his shoulder, hitting DeVonta Smith downfield for a 40-yard achieve. He confirmed he might take successful too, on two designed runs late within the drive, simply earlier than his 16-yard landing cross to tight finish Dallas Goedert.
That confirmed the Giants that despite the fact that Hurts’ shoulder nonetheless is not one hundred pc, it was “adequate” — as Hurts described it — for him to do all of it.
“He appeared just like the previous Jalen to me,” mentioned operating again Miles Sanders. “I am not going to lie.”
“He set the tone,” Goedert added. “And all of us adopted alongside.”
Sure they did, particularly on the bottom. Sanders ran 17 occasions for 90 yards. Kenneth Gainwell chipped in 112 yards and a landing on 12 carries. Boston Scott added 32 yards on six carries, along with his ordinary landing in opposition to the Giants, too. There have been holes all over the place, created by the Eagles’ highly effective offensive line, because the Giants stored having to guess whether or not Hurts would hand it off or run it himself.
That, Sanders mentioned, “had their protection drained all recreation.” It positive confirmed within the fourth quarter, when the Giants have typically been at their greatest this season. The Eagles received the ball again with 13:12 left within the recreation, after Giants coach Brian Daboll made the odd resolution to punt on a 4th and 5 from the Giants 42 along with his workforce down 28-7, and so they simply steamrolled by means of an clearly exhausted Giants protection. They put the sport away with a 15-play, 70-yard, eight-minute lengthy area purpose drive on which they ran 11 occasions with 4 completely different gamers carrying the ball. Hurts even sprinkled in a few passes, too.
With Hurts operating the present, directing the assault, the Eagles principally did no matter they needed to the Giants, in no matter means they needed to do it.
“I feel a very powerful factor is we have been capable of be efficient in each doable means,” Hurts mentioned. “That is all you possibly can ask for as an offense. It is a good factor to have. It is a particular factor once you’re capable of do all of that. It is form of like ‘Choose your poison’.”
Hurts, although, is the straw that stirs that poison. He is what makes the Eagles so harmful, even when he is not doing the harm himself.
“Jalen is at all times going to assist the operating recreation huge time due to what he can do and the risk he poses on the again aspect,” Sirianni mentioned. “He isn’t carrying it. However he is nonetheless going to have an effect on the sport. And that is what he did. He affected the sport. And he runs the present on the market. He is like the purpose guard on the market.”
“He is the captain of the ship,” Sanders added. “He makes stuff rather a lot simpler, sure he does.”
Ralph Vacchiano is the NFC East reporter for FOX Sports activities, overlaying the Washington Commanders, Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants. He spent the earlier six years overlaying the Giants and Jets for SNY TV in New York, and earlier than that, 16 years overlaying the Giants and the NFL for the New York Day by day Information. Comply with him Twitter at @RalphVacchiano.
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