This was something special, no doubt about it. Wide receiver A.J. Brown wasn't going to make Sunday's game against Tennessee anything more than what it was, but he knew that playing against his former team was unique. So, he kept his emotions in check, he prepared to play a great game as he always does, and he went out and balled in the Eagles' 35-10 win over Tennessee on Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field.
Brown caught 8 passes for 119 yards and two touchdowns, giving him 61 receptions for 950 yards and 9 touchdowns on the season. He has been a dominating force, helping elevate the Eagles to one of the best offenses in the NFL. And on a beautiful early December day in South Philadelphia, Brown put on a show.
He lit up a Titans team that tried covering him one-on-one – huge mistake. Brown hauled in a 40-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter one play after having a touchdown wiped out after the officials' review showed he had stepped out of bounds, and the second came in the third quarter against cornerback Tre Avery when Avery was in Brown's face and Brown somehow managed to shrug him off and make the catch to give the Eagles a 28-10 lead.
"This one meant a lot to me," said Brown, drafted by the Titans in 2019 and then traded to Philadelphia on the first night of the 2022 NFL Draft after three seasons, including a Pro Bowl year, with Tennessee. "Early on, I had mixed emotions about the trade and everything, and I'd be lying to you to say I didn't circle this game."
He circled it, and then he went out and crushed it. Early in the game, Brown had some catches on short routes as Tennessee gave him a cushion in coverage. Then he and quarterback Jalen Hurts went for the jugular and the approach paid off.
On the first touchdown pass, Hurts pump-faked a throw to Brown on the left side of the formation and then Brown left cornerback Kristian Fulton on the ground, literally, turning up the field all alone and gently catching Hurts' pass. As Brown went into the end zone, he slowed and looked back at the playing field to make sure there were no flags – on the play before, his apparent touchdown was overruled by review – and then he celebrated.
"Easy play, and easy to keep my emotions in check there because I knew the next throw was coming to me," Brown said after the game in his press conference. "It was just about going out and making a play."
That touchdown covered 40 yards, Hurts' long completion of the day. Late in the third quarter, the two hooked up again, this team with Brown one-on-one against Avery, who tried to lock up Brown, but to no avail. Brown's strength was too much and he created enough separation to catch the pass and score his 9th touchdown of the season.
"(Avery) is not looking at me, and I'm looking at the ball. I think me having a darker visor kind of helps out a lot," Brown said. "I see him and I see the ball, so he doesn't know where the ball is. I just try to stay calm as long as possible. To be honest, I was really trying to clear it out for (DeVonta Smith). It was kind of a Cover-2 beater or something like that. If the corner squats, (Hurts) will throw the go ball, but he didn't squat, so I looked like I was just running off. And then I looked up and peeked at the ball, and it was in the air. I was like, 'I've got to try and stay calm.' And it was already close, so I was just trying to create some room even if I had to push him off or do whatever I had to do to make the catch."
He made the catch, the stadium went wild, and that's the kind of day it was for Brown. Again.
"It was fun going against my old team, some teammates that mean a lot to me," he said. "We were clicking today. We just had it rolling out there."