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Morning Roundup: Eagles react to securing No. 1 seed in NFC playoffs

Jalen Hurts Morning Roundup 1920 010923

Before diving into this week's edition of Morning Roundup, a special victory edition at that, here's additional coverage from Sunday's win over the Giants that you can check out:

• What's next for the Eagles on the Road to Victory? Check out the playoff matchups and more.

• Eagles Insider Dave Spadaro explains how the team accomplished its mission on Sunday to earn home-field advantage in the playoffs.

• Our game recap chronicled the top storylines as they were unfolding in real time.

Jalen Hurts reflects on return to field, securing No. 1 seed

MVP candidate Jalen Hurts admitted that "it's been tough" having to sit out the previous two games due to a shoulder injury, but that he didn't "really want to make it about me."

Instead, in the glow of the 22-16 win over the New York Giants that secured the NFC East title and the No. 1 overall seed, Hurts wanted the focus to be on what the TEAM has accomplished.

"I think it's a huge accomplishment, and maybe I'm not realizing the magnitude of it just yet. I just know that we have so much more out there for us, so I'm eager to get back to work and continue to grow with these guys," said Hurts, who arrived at Lincoln Financial Field wearing a Michael Jordan "I'm Back" T-shirt.

"I challenge everybody in that locker room to not only hold themselves accountable but also hold the men next to them accountable. Coaches, trainers, janitors, everybody, it takes everybody. It takes a village, truly. That's where my focus is. The focus is just getting better every day and learning like I've always learned, and as a team learn as we've always learned. I truly feel like there is a lot out there for us. We just have to go and take it."

Hurts was 20-of-35 for 229 yards in his return and he rushed for an additional 13 yards. The arm strength was evident from Hurts, who distributed the ball to his playmakers instead of taking matters into his own hands. When the Eagles needed a QB sneak to extend a fourth-quarter drive to keep the Giants' offense off the field, Hurts muscled his way for a pair of yards.

The Eagles finish 14-1 in the regular season in games Hurts started. Hurts, at 24 years old, is the second-youngest quarterback to win 14 games in a season to Hall of Famer Dan Marino.

"I had some things I had to battle within myself. I knew I wanted to be available for my team. It's really tough being out, let alone taking some losses when you're out. I want to be available for my team. I really feel like if you want something you have to do what you have to do to go get it. Today we did just enough to get that goal," Hurts said.

"Now, it's 0-0. We have a new goal in front of us, but it's a day- by-day process like it's always been, and we'll continue to get better. Coming into this game (I've) been really pushing myself beyond measures to try and be available. We do what we have to do. We're the number one seed and we are the NFC champs and that's the goal we set out to do. Now I can continue to recover and be ready for playoffs."

With the bye week ahead, Hurts will have the time to do just that. – Chris McPherson

A.J. Brown: 'I want more'

When A.J. Brown earns a playoff hat, he routinely gives it to his daughter, Jersee, whose picture he proudly wears around his neck. Tonight's NFC East Champion edition will be another in her collection, but Brown has his eyes set on something even greater.

"I'm going to give this one to her, but I'm trying to continue giving her more hats. There's two more hats out there that I'm trying to get."

He didn't spend long basking in the excitement of the No. 1 seed before looking ahead at what could come next – a Conference Championship and a Super Bowl.

"Do you want me to be honest? I want more," Brown said.

His playoff hat and tee weren't the only new digs he added to his closet after Sunday's game.

While he spoke to reporters, Brown clutched a Kelly Green Mike Quick jersey and a sharpie.

His 95-yard performance was a historic one; it pushed him past Quick's 1983 single-season team record (1,409) for receiving yards.

"It means a lot to leave my footprint on this great organization. There's been a lot of great receivers before me and for me to do it in my first year, it means the world," he said, finishing with 1,496.

"I told Mike thank you for everything he's done for the game, and it's truly an honor. (His record) has been up there for like 30 years, and that says a lot." – Sage Hurley

CJGJ back in action

C.J. Gardner-Johnson made his return to play on Sunday after a five week recovery from a lacerated kidney suffered against the Green Bay Packers. He was elated to be back, but similarly excited to own the No. 1 seed. He ran off the field, giddy, shouting, "This has to run through us!"

In his first game back, Gardner-Johnson recorded six tackles, taking snaps at nickel cornerback in place of Avonte Maddox who's out with a toe injury. Reed Blankenship, who stepped up when Gardner-Johnson was out, manned the safety spot alongside Marcus Epps.

After the game, Gardner-Johnson took a moment to reflect on his arrival in Philadelphia after he was traded from the New Orleans Saints just before Week 1.

"You play better ball when you're around better guys and better athletes," said Gardner-Johnson.

"This is a result of it, you know what I'm saying."

This season has been one of his most successful yet; he's tied for the most interceptions in the league despite the long hiatus. His ballhawking capabilities played an integral role in the team's early success, setting them up for the optimal postseason setup they're facing.

Gardner-Johnson says his tenure at the Eagles has been humbling, and it's because of the caliber of talent he's surrounded with.

"We've got two cornerbacks that can cover better than me," he said, motioning toward James Bradberry and Darius Slay's lockers with his new NFC East Champions hat.

"When I got the chance to play with those corners, I figured out how to play my role, man, and it turned out to be good." – Sage Hurley

Check out the Eagles as they arrive to Lincoln Financial Field ahead of Sunday's showdown with the New York Giants.

A decade in the making

Cornerback Darius Slay is a five-time Pro Bowl selection, one of the league's elite players over the past decade.

And while Slay has sniffed the postseason, 2022 marks his first division title. And it will also be the first time he will suit up beyond Wild Card Weekend.

"It means a lot to me. I've been in the league 10 years and never won a division in my life. I got one today. I've never had a bye week. I'm never seen the second round. I get to see both of them at one time, so I'm thankful," said Slay, who was named a first-time captain in 2022. "This team has been working hard all year and all offseason. We've been grinding. We knew what type of team we were going to be. I just know we didn't come out how we wanted to play, but we got the thing done. We got the thing done. Just a good thing that we get to dress up one more time, and do it again."

Needless to say, Slay is far from satisfied.

"Our game does have to turn up a lot. The level of play has to turn up. All that kind of stuff," Slay said. "I know me, I'm already locked in right now. Looking forward to seeing who we play next. But today, I'm going to enjoy my t-shirt and hat. I'm going to wear (them) everywhere I go today. So, I might wear it again tomorrow. Don't mind me (jokingly)." – Chris McPherson

The Giant Killer maintains his legacy

In the first quarter, on a 2nd-and-8 play with 4:20 remaining, running back Boston Scott subbed in for Miles Sanders.

Why?

Simply put, you can always count on Boston Scott against the Giants. He is fondly referred to as the Giant Killer after all.

Whenever the bi-annual divisional matchup against New York comes around, the nickname resurfaces. He always lives up to it. This week, Scott proved it by rushing into the end zone for the Eagles' only touchdown of the game.

Sunday's 8-yarder marked his TENTH score against the Giants in eight meetings. His dominance against the team dates back to 2019; with a playoff berth and the NFC East title on the line, he scored three touchdowns at the Meadowlands, tying the single-game franchise record, securing the win, and earning NFC Offensive Player of the Week honors in the process. Three weeks earlier that season, he'd scored a touchdown against them at home.

Boston Scott has only had one scoreless game against the Giants in his entire career, and it fell during the 2020 season, when nothing was predictable anyways.

For the 5-foot-6 back, Giants aren't daunting at all. When asked what it is that gets him so juiced against New York, he really doesn't have an answer. He says he treats it like any other game. But for all who relish in moments when he darts through defenders to post points against a divisional rival twice a year, he's the Giant Killer. – Sage Hurley

Love for Damar

The Eagles were locked in ahead of Sunday afternoon's game, but the team made certain to honor Bills safety Damar Hamlin and his miraculous recovery.

On the 30-yard line of the field, the threes were outlined in Bills' blue – an homage to Hamlin's No. 3 jersey number. Eagles running back Miles Sanders was one of several players and coaches to sport a "Love for Damar" tee over a hoodie, making sure to FaceTime his best friend to check in during warm-ups.

"Just go back out there and honor my brother. I was a little emotional just before the game. I had to take some time coming back in from pregame. It just randomly hit me ... a lot of stuff going through my mind," said Sanders.

"But I feel good, I'm just getting out here and honoring my boy. I love all the love my guy is getting throughout the whole world and in this country, specifically, but I'm just happy that he's OK."

Throughout the game, that love for Damar didn't waver. Instead, it echoed throughout the stadium, as fans hoisted handmade signs and posters supporting his recovery.

"It meant a lot, just knowing that people care," Sanders said. – Sage Hurley

2023 opponents set

With the 2023 regular season coming to a close, here is a quick look at who the Eagles will play in the 2023 season.

• They will have nine games on the road.

• They will play the entire AFC East.

• They will play the entire NFC West.

• The 17th game is against the Kansas City Chiefs.

Home

Dallas Cowboys

New York Giants

Washington Commanders

Arizona Cardinals

Buffalo Bills

Miami Dolphins

Minnesota Vikings

San Francisco 49ers

Road

Dallas Cowboys

New York Giants

Washington Commanders

Kansas City Chiefs

Los Angeles Rams

New England Patriots

New York Jets

Seattle Seahawks

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Eagles host the New York Giants in the regular-season finale at Lincoln Financial Field. Can the Eagles get the season sweep and secure the NFC East title as well as the conference's No. 1 seed for the playoffs?

Eagles have No. 10 pick in the 2023 NFL Draft

The conclusion of the regular season also finalizes the draft order for the teams that are not in the postseason. Even though the Eagles are the No. 1 seed in the NFC, they will have the 10th overall pick in the NFL Draft thanks to a pre-draft trade with the New Orleans Saints in 2022.

In that deal, the Eagles sent the Saints two first-round picks in 2022 as well as a sixth-round selection in exchange for 2022 first- and third-round picks that became wide receiver A.J. Brown), a 2022 seventh-round pick, the 2023 first-round pick, and a 2024 second-round pick.

Here are the Eagles' current picks:

1st round – No. 10 overall, from the Saints in a 2022 offseason trade

1st round – Own Pick

2nd round – Own Pick

3rd round – Own Pick

7th round – Own Pick

7th round – From the Vikings through the Texans in the Jalen Reagor trade

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