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Morning Roundup: Gardner Minshew was ready for the moment

Gardner Minshew
Gardner Minshew

In his first start of the season, Gardner Minshew threw for 355 yards and accounted for three total touchdowns.

Though the 40-34 final score didn't reflect the outcome the team had hoped for, Gardner Minshew made his mark by stepping up as quarterback in place of Jalen Hurts.

He came prepared to play on a national stage against a division rival. Minshew finished the night with an impressive 355 yards, 2 passing touchdowns, and a 1-yard rushing touchdown.

Those are numbers that would typically signal a win for this season's Eagles – who have now only lost two games through Week 16.

The kicker, though, was the team's four costly turnovers, featuring two Minshew interceptions.

"We shot ourselves in the foot," he said after the game. "You can't turn the ball over four times and expect to beat a good team."

Ball security issues across the entire offense aside – the highlights of his performance were frequent deep balls to DeVonta Smith, who surpassed 1,000 yards for the first time in his career. Two of Smith's eight catches were touchdowns.

Minshew didn't shy away from big moments, he became the first Eagles quarterback since 1991 to record both a fourth-down passing touchdown AND a fourth-down rushing touchdown in the same game.

But it's no surprise that he was able to help keep the Eagles in the game until the final moments. He was ready for this. He says the coaching staff has prepared him for success in such a situation all season long.

"It's not just a one-week project. All year, they've been doing a great job of getting me reps in practice, doing different things to make sure I'm comfortable with the offense," Minshew said.

"In Year 2 with the system, I felt ready to go."

He also attributes his play to Hurts, who's guided him throughout the week's preparations.

"Jalen has been awesome, man, and just helped me get up to speed with what it really feels like with these guys in the game. He has a lot of experience playing Dallas and is able to lean on that. But really, I've learned from Jalen all year, the last two years," Minshew said.

"He's doing some really incredible stuff out there and to be able to watch him not only in games, but every day at practice, I've learned a ton from him."

It is unknown whether or not Minshew will start in the team's Week 17 matchup against the Saints on New Year's Day. Nonetheless, his focus has shifted to fixing mistakes that contributed to the loss, as the team needs just one more regular-season win in order to claim the NFC East title and the No. 1 seed in the playoffs.

"There's a ton of guys that have put in a ton of effort, a ton of work into this team this season," Minshew said. "I don't want to let them down. I'll do everything I can for them to win and to get that first seed in the (NFC)." – Sage Hurley

Nick Sirianni: 'We just crave to get better'

Win or loss, the process remains the same for the Eagles.

Review the tape, correct the mistakes, and craft the next game plan.

The beauty of the situation is that a loss doesn't throw a wrench into the operation.

"We just crave to get better," Head Coach Nick Sirianni said. "We'll have to sit with this a little bit, but the main goal is to get better from it."

There's plenty to evaluate following the 40-34 loss, one in which that included four giveaways by the offense and the most points allowed all season by the defense. But Sirianni is not one to point fingers.

It's an opportunity for everyone to get better – together.

"We win together, we celebrate together, and we pick each other up together. Everything's together, together, together, together," Sirianni said. "It wasn't one phase that let one other phase down. It was offense, defense, coaching, everything. We're in this together and the teams that stick together through the ups and downs of the season, they are the teams that continue to grow together."

There are some key injury situations to watch as quarterback Jalen Hurts (shoulder) did not play and three players – Jordan Davis, Lane Johnson, and Avonte Maddox – exited early.

Sirianni offered some news on the quarterback front.

"If Jalen is ready to go, he'll go. He's our starting quarterback," Sirianni said. "If he's ready to go, then he'll go. That's nothing against Gardner (Minshew) because I thought he played a really good game, but if Jalen is ready, he'll go." – Chris McPherson

DeVonta Smith eclipses 1,000 yards with 113-yard effort

In a game where the Eagles looked to clinch the NFC East title with a backup at quarterback, wide receiver DeVonta Smith did everything in his power to put the Eagles over the top.

Smith led the Eagles with eight catches for 113 yards and two touchdowns. The second-year receiver now has 1,014 yards on the second, eclipsing the 1,000-yard mark for the first time in his career. It's his second game in a row with 100-plus yards.

While the Eagles came up short in Dallas, there is no questioning the heart and toughness that the 6-foot, 170-pound receiver displayed on Saturday.

In the second half alone, Smith had six catches for 103 yards and both of his touchdowns and the Cowboys tried to make it as difficult as possible for the Slim Reaper to creep.

"At the end of the day, it's football. Football is all about being tough," Smith said. "If you're not going out there and being tough, football is not the sport for you."

Smith's first touchdown came off a beautiful play design. On 4th-and-3, tight end Dallas Goedert crossed the field and appeared to be the go-to target. Cornerback Trevon Diggs sensed this and crashed down to take out the tight end. Smith got lost in traffic and slipped free and was left wide open for a 14-yard score to make it 27-17 in the third quarter.

But on his next catch, Smith caught a ball on a crossing route and was immediately met by Cowboys cornerback Nashon Wright. But it was Wright who was on the wrong end of the hit as Smith instantly jumped up to denote that it was a first down at midfield after a 16-yard gain.

"That's the whole thing. You always want to be the toughest team, the toughest and the longest and things like that," Smith said.

Smith's second touchdown came in the fourth quarter on an out route, where he beat rookie cornerback DaRon Bland for a 9-yard touchdown to make it 34-27, Eagles, in the fourth quarter.

His final two catches were sights to behold. Smith caught a Gardner Minshew pass between two defenders along the right sideline for an acrobatic, tip-toe 23-yard gain at midfield. On the Eagles' final drive, Smith elevated above to rim for a 22-yard gain at the Dallas 19-yard line.

However, the Eagles could not finish the deal and will look to wrap up the division and the No. 1 seed against the Saints. Still, Smith is peaking at just the right time as the calendar flips from December to January, even without Jalen Hurts at the quarterback spot.

"Just on to the next one. Clinch it in the next one. We didn't get it today, so we just have to handle business next week and just keep moving forward," Smith said. – Chris McPherson


• Eagles Insider Dave Spadaro's postgame column: "You can't win a game with four turnovers. That's the story."

Here's the updated playoff outlook. Are the Eagles still in control of their destiny for the No.1 seed?

• If you missed any of the action, here's the detailed game recap.

Some final news and notes

1. Philadelphia totaled 4 TDs (3 offensive, 1 defensive), moving its season total to 57 TDs and breaking the franchise record for most TDs scored in a season (previously 54 in 2014).

2. Philadelphia became the third NFL team since 1982 to have three players (Haason Reddick, Josh Sweat and Javon Hargrave) with double-digit sacks in a season, joining the 1985 Raiders and the 1989 Vikings.

3. DeVonta Smith led all Eagles receivers with 8 catches for 113 yards and 2 TDs, while A.J. Brown totaled 6 catches for 103 yards. Brown and Smith are the first 1,000+ yard receiving duo in franchise history.

• With today's performance, Smith has set a career high in receptions (79), yards (1,014), and TDs (7) this season. It marked Smith's second career game with 2+ TDs (last at Den. 11/14/21).

4. Jake Elliott connected on a 25-yard FG on the Eagles' opening drive to give Philadelphia a 3-0 lead. The Eagles reclaimed the lead after a 47-yard FG from Elliott at the end of the second quarter.

5. Philadelphia improved its early lead after Josh Sweat intercepted Cowboys QB Dak Prescott on Dallas' opening series and returned the ball 42 yards for his 1st career TD.

• Sweat is the only NFL defensive lineman with an INT-TD this year. He is the first Eagles defensive lineman to do so since Juqua Parker on 10/12/08 at San Francisco.

6. On consecutive plays during the fourth quarter, Haason Reddick and Josh Sweat sacked Cowboys QB Dak Prescott.

• Reddick finished with 2.0 sacks and 1 FF, setting a new career high with 14.0 sacks this season. Sweat reached 10.0 sacks for the first time in his career.

• Kyzir White contributed to his first sack of the season, combining with Sweat to bring down Prescott right before the two-minute warning.

7. T.J. Edwards recorded 14 tackles, bringing his season total to 138, which is the most by an Eagle in a season since 1991 (Wes Hopkins, also 138).

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