PHILADELPHIA — Jalen Hurts rolled to the right, ran down the sideline and stuttered to the 5-yard line, where he was caught by a defender with another chasing. Hurts twisted his body, lowered his head, dragged two defenders with him and made his way in for an adrenaline-filled 26-yard touchdown run that roughly broke the game.
Perhaps, or so the Eagles can hope, there are many more such games in the offing.
Hurts had a total of 301 yards in the first half breakout game of his young career and finished with three total touchdowns as he led Philadelphia to a 24-7 victory over the Minnesota Vikings on Monday night.
“A great performance on a big stage,” said Eagles coach Nick Sirianni.
Hurts tried to prove he can play like the best franchise QBs in the NFL, but Hurts seemed downright unstoppable from the opening run.
Hurts hit five receivers on 5-for-5 passes – marked by a 19-yard strike to AJ Brown – and ended the drive himself with a 3-yard scoring run. In the opening win against Detroit, Hurts failed to complete a pass on five tries and the Eagles turned the ball on downs on the first drive of the game.
Flip the ball on downs?
That just seemed like a rumor to the Vikings. The TD was just the launch for 24-year-old Hurts who threw, ran and imposed his will with all his available tools against a Vikings defense that failed to solve him in his 21st career start. He finished with 333 yards passing and a touchdown, and 57 yards and two scores on the ground.
“Another excellent performance. He threw some incredible balls. He made a lot of plays,” said Eagles center Jason Kelce. “This was a really great, well-rounded game for him.”
On the opening play of the second quarter, Hurts connected with a wide open Quez Watkins for a 53-yard TD and the 14-0 lead.
“It always comes with time, and as time goes on, you find more comfort in what you’re doing,” Hurts said.
Darius Slay, who was intercepted twice against an unlucky Kirk Cousins, had each of the Eagles’ talented receivers called Batman.
There was, Brown, the “swollen” Batman who had five catches for 69 yards; DeVonta Smith was the “skinny” Batman who had seven for 80 yards; and Watkins was the “quick” Batman who had the burners on for the easy scoring (and receiving a total of 69 yards).
Why are they all Batman?
‘No Robins. We don’t have any helpers,” Slay said.
Hurts shone with the 26-yard TD with 1:58 left in the half and Jake Elliott still had time to kick a 38-yarder and the Eagles took a 24-7 lead at halftime.
“I don’t think it matters how we score as long as we put points on the board,” said Hurts.
In a week 2 of unlikely comebacks, it might not have been wise to count the Vikings.
But Cousins and wide receiver Justin Jefferson – famously passed by the Eagles in the 2020 draft – never got anything substantial against the Eagles and maligned defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon. Slay had his second interception of the game in the fourth quarter when the scoreboard soon flashed “Big Play Slay”.
“It felt like we were a little busy at times, including me,” said Vikings coach Kevin O’Connell.
Hurts had 50 yards rushing and 251 yards passing in the first half. Cousins finished the game 27 for 46 for 221 yards and three interceptions. His only TD was on a 2-yard pass to Irv Smith in the second quarter. Jefferson had six catches for 48 yards a week after having 184 receiving yards and two TDs in a win against Green Bay.
“I don’t take match-up lightly, but he’s one of the best in the world. I’m also one of the best in the world. I was looking forward to the match-up,” Slay said of Jefferson.
Bryce Harper (wearing an Eagles hat), James Harden (who got the ball through Slay after his first interception) and Bradley Cooper (wearing an Allen Iverson T-shirt) were among the packed and chanting crowd at the Eagles home opener.
Pumped with his souvenir, Harden posted an Instagram photo of his left hand holding the ball with the caption “Gimme That!” The Philadelphia 76ers star snapped selfies with fans before leaving late in the game.
Harden waited in the tunnel for Slay to sign the football. Harden good-naturedly told Slay that he should have had more interceptions.
“He was shocked that I gave it to him,” said Slay, noting that he kept the ball from the second pick.
Dick Vermeil received his Hall of Fame ring at halftime. In his third season in Philadelphia, the great coach led the Eagles to their first playoff appearance in 18 years. He led the Eagles to their first Super Bowl appearance in the 1980 season, but lost 27-10 to the Oakland Raiders.
Vikings safety Harrison Smith was assessed for a concussion.
Vikings: go home on Sunday to play against the Lions.
Eagles: Kick off a reunion tour on Sunday when they head out to play the Washington Commanders and former QB Carson Wentz. The Eagles return home on Sunday, October 2, to play against the Jacksonville Jaguars, led by coach Doug Pederson. Wentz and Pederson, of course, played a vital role in helping the Eagles win the Super Bowl after the 2017 season.
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