This one unfolded in a perfectly coordinated three-phase effort just as Head Coach Nick Sirianni always talks about. The Eagles rode a powerful 214-yard running game and a superb performance from quarterback Jalen Hurts. The defense limited Denver to 309 total net yards, 89 on the ground, and one touchdown in five trips to the red zone, and added a game-changing takeaway on an 83-yard scoop-and-score play from cornerback Darius Slay. And the special teams chipped in with a blocked field goal and three Jake Elliott three-pointers in a complete-performance 30-13 win over the Broncos on Sunday at Empower Field at Mile High.
Wow, what a game it was!
"That was a great team win. All three phases stepped up," Slay said after his second scoop-and-score touchdown of the season (Detroit was his first). "We all believe in ourselves."
Once again, the Eagles – wearing the white jerseys with black pants at the urging of Hurts to Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Lurie – established the line of scrimmage and dominated with the run game against the NFL's sixth-best run defense. It was an equal-opportunity effort from an offense that lost tight end Dallas Goedert to a head injury early on. Jordan Howard had 83 yards on 12 carries. Boston Scott was elusive with a career-high 81 yards on 11 rushes and Hurts added his own brand of, um, hurt, with 53 yards on 14 carries. In the pocket, Hurts was calm, cool, and accurate against an array of Denver blitzes as he completed 16 of 23 passes for 178 yards including a beauty of a throw that wide receiver DeVonta Smith went up, up, up, and caught in the right pylon of the end zone against fellow No. 1 draft pick cornerback Patrick Surtain II for a 36-yard score that put the Eagles up 10-0 in a nearly perfect first quarter.
That twosome connected again in the second quarter to put an exclamation point on a 12-play, 75-yard drive as Hurts went to Smith in the back of the end zone to give the Eagles, after Elliott's PAT, a 17-10 advantage. It was 20-10 at the half, with the defense limiting Denver to just 127 total net yards and eight first downs in the first half.
"It's just Jalen trusting me like I trust him," Smith said about the leaping grab over Surtain. "He gave me a chance to make the catch. That's all you can ask for. I went up and got it."
Said Hurts: "DeVonta went up and made a spectacular catch on the ball, got down, maintained possession of the ball and we got a touchdown. It was a big start and a big spark for us."
K'Von Wallace made one of the many plays of the game in the third quarter, penetrating from the right side of Denver's protection and blocking Brandon McManus's 22-yard field goal attempt, preserving the 10-point lead. Then the defense stepped up later in the quarter after Denver narrowed the difference to 20-13 and had the ball in Eagles territory after Hurts threw an interception.
On a fourth-and-1 play from the Philadelphia 23-yard line, Melvin Gordon carried to the right side and gained a yard, but linebacker Davion Taylor stripped the ball loose in a mass of bodies and the football squirted loose. Slay picked up the football, dropped it, picked it up again, and began his zig-zagging journey to the end zone, busting through a hole and turning on the jets to score on an 83-yard play that turned the game upside down and ignited a stadium filled with Eagles fans.
"I'm trying to score every time I touch the rock," Slay said after recovering a "country fumble," one that Sirianni described as returnable, in that there is room to have a return. A "city fumble," according to Sirianni, is one to fall on. "I barely get to touch it, so when I touch it, I'm trying to score. Quick. And get done.
"It could have been both (a city fumble or a country fumble). All I know is – City fumbles, country fumbles, they both turn into touchdowns."
At 27-13, the Eagles had control of the game.
"I think we were all a little ticked off about last week (against the Chargers) and we came out here and played a complete game," linebacker T.J. Edwards said. "All three phases contributed. That's what you want. We wanted to take away his (quarterback Teddy Bridgewater's) first read and I think we did a good job of that. Of course, we always want to stop the running game. We played downhill on defense and we had a lot of players get to the football and that's what is so important.
"It felt great out there. We had confidence in each other and it was a big win. A really big win."
Once again, the Eagles displayed great balance on offense, continuing a month-long dominance in the running game. Hurts faced everything Denver Head Coach Vic Fangio – one of the most established and respected defensive minds in the league – threw at him and stayed a step ahead. The offensive line played another strong game and the offense controlled the football for 34 minutes, 58 seconds while converting 6 of 13 third downs and piling up 386 total net yards.
"We're getting it done running the ball and throwing it," right tackle Lane Johnson said. "I haven't been here during anything like this, as far as the way we're running the ball. We all love it."
There was a lot to love on Sunday in the best win of the season for the Eagles. They hammered a team that a week earlier throttled Dallas, and the Eagles did it in convincing fashion winning every phase of the game.
"We know that this is what we can do," Hurts said. "We're continuing to grow. I've said this all along, that it's about growth. The biggest thing I'll tell you about this game and everything we go through – we've been learning and we've been growing steady. The only direction is to rise, to continue to rise, to continue to grow, to continue to put in the effort. Everything will play out the way it's supposed to."