Jalen Hurts needed a brace on his left leg in the second half — then shook off whatever ailed him to stand tall in the pocket and lead a go-ahead scoring drive — before he hobbled off the field after yet another Eagles win.
Hurts is hurting, for sure.
“I don’t want to put his business out there,” wide receiver A.J. Brown said. “But just know he’s a tough individual. He’s putting us in good positions to win.”
Hurts rebounded from a pick-6 to hit Brown with the winning touchdown on the next drive, and he threw for 279 yards and combined for three scores to lead the Philadelphia Eagles to a 31-17 win over the Miami Dolphins on Sunday night.
Hurts offered little about what’s wrong. But when asked if it was an injury that could impact the star QB moving forward, Hurts only said, “I hope not.
Of course, the Eagles hope not, too — they started 13-1 last season before Hurts broke his clavicle and they lost two straight games. Hurts still finished with his 13th career game with a passing and rushing touchdown.
“He played the rest of the game and he played at a really high level,” Eagles coach Nick Sirianni said. “Man, he’s a competitor. There’s nobody else I’d rather have as our quarterback.”
The Super Bowl teams from last season, the champion Kansas City Chiefs and Eagles are the only 6-1 teams in the NFL.
Hurts threw two more interceptions but found Brown 10 times for 137 yards — his fifth straight game of 125-plus yards — to get by his former Alabama teammate Tua Tagovailoa and the Dolphins (5-2).
But the big play that sealed the win came in the fourth quarter from the cornerback nicknamed “Big Play” Slay. Trailing 24-17 in the fourth, Tagovailoa went deep on a pass intended for Raheem Mostert that was picked by Darius Slay near the goal line and returned 16 yards.
“Yeah, yeah, big play,” Slay said. “I’ve been in this position a lot. Big time, big time moments. Sunday night. I’m making all the plays.”
The Eagles tush-pushed their way toward first downs on a clock-eating drive late in the fourth before Hurts hit Brown for a 42-yard reception and Kenneth Gainwell sealed the win with a 3-yard touchdown run.
As he has been much of the season, Hurts was more erratic than dynamic. Still, Hurts threw a 14-yard TD pass to Brown for a 24-17 lead with 15 seconds left in the third that ended up the winner.
Hurts ran into trouble earlier in the third when he faked a handoff and his short pass was tipped into the hands of linebacker Jerome Baker. Baker returned the pick 22 yards for the score and a 17-all game. Hurts — who threw three interceptions in last week’s loss against the Jets — had only six interceptions a year ago when he was the NFL MVP runner-up.
Tagovailoa was 23 of 32 for 216 yards in his first head-to-head matchup against Hurts in the NFL, the two 25-year-old QBs forever linked by their tenures under coach Nick Saban at Alabama. Tagovailoa replaced Hurts at halftime of the 2017 national championship and threw three touchdowns to lead Alabama to its fifth national title.
Tagovailoa was all out of dramatic rallies in this one.
“If you’re going to lose games, you want it to be against a really good team and you want it to hurt,” coach Mike McDaniel said.
Hurts threw a 19-yard TD pass to Dallas Goedert for a 10-3 lead in the second quarter. The Eagles had a minor scare when Brown spent time in the medical tent. The wideout took a hard hit to the cheek and briefly had blurred vision but seemed fine when he dashed out of the tent and onto the field on fourth-and-3 and hauled in a 32-yard pass that took the Eagles to the 1-yard line.
NFL fans watching were stumped on what the Eagles would do next. Maybe a play-action pass? A trick play?
Uh, no. It was the tush push, of course. Hurts lined up under center, the offensive line surged forward and Hurts got a big push from behind into the end zone for a 17-3 lead.
“People can’t do it like we can do it,” Eagles coach Nick Sirianni said. “Don’t ban this play. If everybody could do it, everybody would do it.”
Miami and it’s league-best offense wasn’t out of the game yet.