In the first three games of this 2022 season, the Eagles jumped out to big leads and blew the doors off defenses with a big-play attack and, yes, those games opened eyes and provided proof that the Eagles are a team to be reckoned with. At some point, we knew they would find themselves in a hole and find a way to dig out.
Sunday was that day.
On a miserable weather day with driving rain and gusting winds at Lincoln Financial Field, the Eagles took a shot to the jaw. They were down 14 points in the first quarter with two key players, cornerback Darius Slay and offensive tackle Jordan Mailata, out of the game with injuries.
Well, the Eagles answered in a resounding way, scoring 29 straight points on the way to a 29-21 win to move to 4-0 and remain the NFL's only undefeated team. In a way, this was the most impressive victory of the season given the obstacles the Eagles faced. For the first time, the Eagles didn't jump out to an early advantage. Injuries were already a factor going in, as the Eagles played without nickel cornerback Avonte Maddox and running back Boston Scott and then lost Slay (forearm) and Mailata (shoulder) early.
Quarterback Jalen Hurts was intercepted on the Eagles' first possession and Andre Cisco returned it 59 yards for a score to put Philadelphia in a hole for the first time in four games. On its next possession, Jacksonville drove 80 yards in eight plays to go ahead 14-0 with nearly four minutes remaining in the first quarter.
Uh-oh ... maybe this just wasn't going to be the Eagles' day ...
"Not a bit of panic on the sidelines. We all knew it was coming. We knew we would get it right," said linebacker Haason Reddick, who again was a beast with two quarterback sacks, two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, and a tackle for loss when he set the edge perfectly on a run to his side and slid off the block for the tackle. "That's not the kind of team we are. Nobody is going to hang his head. Nobody is going to get down, or lose his focus. We just went to work."
The defense started the turnaround, rising to make a stop on a Jacksonville fourth-and-3 play when Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence rolled right and lost the wet football at the Eagles' 34-yard line early in the second quarter. Defensive tackle Fletcher Cox recovered and from that point on, Philadelphia dominated. What stood out ...
1. Jacksonville entered the game with an NFL-best +7 in turnover ratio, a big reason for the Jags' 2-1 start. In this game, though, the Eagles dominated this category, taking the football away five times and turning those takeaways into 22 points. Jacksonville managed just 219 total net yards, with 148 of those yards coming on two Jacksonville touchdown drives. Five times the Jags had three-and-out offensive series. The defense sacked Lawrence four times, limited the running game to 71 yards, and took the football away five times from a team that had committed just one giveaway through in its 2-1 start.
2. Philadelphia's offense scored touchdowns on all three of its second-quarter possessions and turned that 14-point deficit into a 20-14 halftime advantage. The Eagles have now scored a remarkable 85 points in four second quarters this season. After his early interception, Hurts was efficient and patient, throwing for 204 yards, completing 16 of 25 passes, and using the short passing game to set up catch and runs for wide receiver A.J. Brown (5 receptions, 95 yards) and tight end Dallas Goedert (5 catches, 72 yards).
Hurts' touchdown run was a testament to his physical nature. It came four plays after an apparent touchdown pass to Brown was nullified by a Goedert pass interference penalty that backed the Eagles up to the Jacksonville 20. On second-and-21 after a 1-yard Miles Sanders loss, Hurts completed a 5-yard pass to DeVonta Smith. Then Hurts ran for 13 yards to the 3-yard line, and on fourth-and-goal from there – one of five times the Eagles went for it on fourth down, converting it three times – Hurts burst up the middle, took a big hit, and held onto the football as he crossed the goal line. All in all, a good game for Hurts. It was a terrible weather day and Hurts, after that early pick, handled it very well.
3. The running game overpowered Jacksonville, a defense that entered the game leading the NFL in run defense (allowing 55 yards per game). The Eagles gained 210 yards on 50 carries, led by a career day from Sanders, who set single-game career marks in carries (27), yards (134), and also scored twice, the fourth multi-touchdown game of his Eagles career. Hurts chipped in with 38 yards on 16 carries (41 yards on 13 carries not including the three kneeldowns to end the game), Kenneth Gainwell had a 10-yard touchdown run, and Trey Sermon, in for Scott, chipped in with two carries for 19 yards in his Eagles debut.
"Definitely getting in the groove – my job is to be ready whenever they call my number," Sanders said. "Whenever they call my number, I'm going to be ready, regardless. With the weather being the way it was, we leaned on our offensive line, and our offensive line had a heck of a game."
4. Anyone want to talk about depth on this football team? The Eagles showed some on Sunday to pull out the gutty win. Josiah Scott subbed in for Maddox in the nickel position. Second-year man Zech McPhearson took the reps at outside cornerback after Slay's injury. Jack Driscoll replaced Mailata at left tackle for three-plus quarters. Sua Opeta stepped in for right guard Isaac Seumalo in the second half. The Eagles didn't skip a beat in reaching 4-0. The next-man-up philosophy manifested itself in this game.
5. The Eagles limited Jacksonville to two conversions on seven third downs and stopped the Jags on their only fourth-down attempt. The defense again did the job, putting pressure on Lawrence, stopping the running game, and keeping an explosive group of wide receivers under wraps. The front seven just manhandled Jacksonville at the line of scrimmage. Philadelphia forced five fumbles, recovering four.
6. How about this for an intangible? The Eagles committed only three penalties. That's a number that makes Head Coach Nick Sirianni happy and one that is continually improving for this football team. This was a tough, physical game and the Eagles kept their composure and played disciplined football in every way. And another big statistic: The Eagles scored four touchdowns in six red zone possessions, with one of those possessions at the end of the game when Hurts was running out the clock. So, 4-of-5 is pretty darn good and the offense will take 80 percent every week.
Adversity? The Eagles stared it in the face and just continued fighting and they walked out of Lincoln Financial Field having learned something about this football team.
"I think that was the most beautiful thing right there. There was nothing needed to be said. Nothing needed to be said," Hurts announced in his postgame press conference. "There was no come-to-Jesus moment. There was no come-to-Jesus moment. There was, 'Hey, we built ourselves for this. We want to have that type of mentality so let's find out what type of team we are.' We answered the bell today. We answered the bell today. It's just the beginning. We have a long way to go.
"We know there were unconventional circumstances and an unconventional environment out there with the conditions of the game. But we persevered. We found a way. This is a step for us. We've taken a step from Week 1 to Week 2 to Week 3 to Week 4. It's all about growing and continuing the climb. Just striving to be the football team we want to be."
Now they are 4-0 and feeling ... well, how are they feeling?
"I don't think I was ever 4-0. It feels good," defensive tackle Fletcher Cox said. "The best thing about being 4-0 is that now we have to try and go 5-0. The more you get a target on your back. Everybody else is now playing an undefeated team and they will be juiced up to play. The biggest thing right now is to continue to build each and every week, hold each other accountable, and go out and play as a team."