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Spadaro: Wow! Eagles' stars shine brightest in prime-time triumph over Packers

Eagles Insider Dave Spadaro
Eagles Insider Dave Spadaro

The Men in Black put on a show in Sunday's prime-time game against Green Bay, using an explosive rushing attack and a big-play passing game to gut the Packers' defense, and Philadelphia came up with a key early takeaway and some second-half stops in an impressive 40-33 win – yes, it was a shootout at Lincoln Financial Field – to reach 10-1 in this 2022 regular season. It was a supercharged effort on a Hall of Fame night for the Eagles in just about every way.

"Fireworks, man, that's what this team is all about," said running back Miles Sanders, who gained a career-high 143 yards and scored two touchdowns on 21 attempts as the Eagles ran wild on Green Bay. "The defense played great, balled out. We got that huge field goal from Jake (Elliott, 54 yards) late. And our offensive line made everything happen. So did Jalen.

Jalen, of course, is Jalen Hurts and there is no doubt it all started – as it usually does – with a quarterback whose outstanding season continues. He was a human video-game animation in this one, setting an Eagles record for a quarterback with 157 rushing yards on 17 attempts and added two passing scores. Hurts opened things up early on the Eagles' first possession, bursting for 24 yards on a third-and-10 play to keep the drive alive and then adding a 28-yard gain on a designed quarterback draw to set up a Kenneth Gainwell touchdown run. The Eagles were off and running, literally, gaining 69 yards on that scoring drive and totaling a remarkable 363 yards on the ground in the game (the franchise record is 376 yards, set in 1948). The Eagles' total on Sunday night was the team's most since then when Steve Van Buren was the star and they played with leather helmets and, yeah, that gives you some perspective.

"They knew when we were running it and they were trying to make adjustments, but we just had it going," center Jason Kelce said. "They didn't end up stopping it, for the most part. That's just the way it goes sometimes."

Hurts also threw two touchdown passes, staring down Green Bay's blitz pressure and picking up chunk plays down the field.

"He did everything. Again," Sanders said.

But there was a whole lot more than Hurts on this night, so let's spread some love to all who deserved it as Philadelphia raised its record to 4-1 in prime time this season.

1. Explosiveness on the ground

Hurts has been dynamic all season on the ground and Sunday night was no exception. He had gains of 42 yards, 32 yards, 28 yards, and 24 yards using his legs, but he was not alone. Sanders had great vision, patience, and, when he needed it, power, including gains of 28, 21, 15, and 11 yards. Boston Scott busted one for 19 yards in the fourth quarter on a field goal drive, chipping in with 24 yards on three carries. Gainwell had a 10-yard gain among his eight carries for 39 yards, including a touchdown.

"Everybody contributed and that's what we're about," Scott said. "We all do our part and we do it well. When you have your chance, you make the most of it. That rushing number, 363 yards? That's amazing."

2. Quez Watkins delivers again

For a second consecutive game Quez Watkins came up big, making a spectacular sideline catch of a Hurts pass with only seconds remaining in the second quarter and securing an Eagles lead at the half – the ninth time in 11 games Philadelphia has led after two quarters. Watkins finished with three catches for 35 yards, and his 30-yard touchdown grab working against cornerback Rasul Douglas was a thing of beauty as he went up over Douglas for the catch and stayed inbounds for the score. DeVonta Smith made 4 catches for 50 yards and A.J. Brown rebounded from a lost fumble to catch a 6-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter – a nifty sideline catch against Douglas on which Brown toe-tapped his feet inbounds. Brown finished with 4 catches for 46 yards.

"My confidence is through the roof," Watkins said. "I'm so thankful the coaches have confidence in me and Jalen does, too. That pass, it's a 50/50 ball and whoever wants it more gets it. I wanted it more."

3. Dominating offensive line – again

The offensive line dominated. All of this offense – 500 total net yards, 8 of 15 conversions on third down and 2 of 3 on fourth down, 29 total first downs, 4 touchdowns and a field goal in five trips in the red zone – happened because the offensive line won big in the trenches.

"That's Jeff Stoutland and how he works us," Kelce said. "We've been together a long time and we know each other. I'm sure we will look and see that we left some yards and some plays on the field, but overall we had a good night out there, I think."

Understatement, yes.

4. Defense had two takeaways

Philadelphia took the football away twice – once on a Josiah Scott interception set up when Javon Hargrave knifed inside to pressure quarterback Aaron Rodgers on the Packers' first series, forcing Rodgers to roll right and throw for wide receiver Allen Lazard. Cornerback Darius Slay was draped all over Lazard and tipped the ball high in the air for Scott, who made a leaping interception at the Green Bay 29-yard line. The Eagles turned that takeaway into six points. Then rookie safety Reed Blankenship stepped in front of a Rodgers pass intended for tight end Tyler Davis to end a Green Bay second-quarter drive in the red zone. More on Blankenship and his first career interception later.

5. Eagles won on third down

The offensive numbers, seen above, were staggering. But the defense also won on third down, limiting Rodgers – who left the game in the third quarter – and backup quarterback Jordan Love to one conversion on seven third-down attempts. The run defense was again so outstanding in the second half – after Green Bay gained 76 rushing yards on 12 carries in the first two quarters, the Packers picked up just 30 yards on 9 carries in the second half.

Put it all together and third down, the money down, was all Eagles on both sides of the ball.

6. Depth and resiliency won this game, too

It was a physical game and the defense lost safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson early with a rib injury. In stepped rookie free agent Reed Blankenship, who then stepped up with a drive-killing interception of Rodgers in the second quarter in the red zone. Brown's fumble led to a Green Bay touchdown, but the Eagles bounced right back from that with the 9-play, 71-yard touchdown drive to take the lead after two quarters.

This was not an easy game against a desperate Green Bay team that came out with all kinds of firepower in the first half and then just wouldn't go away until Jake Stoll recovered an onsides kick late in the fourth quarter and the offense picked up the final first down on three Sanders runs before Hurts took a knee to end it.

Eagles 40, Packers 33 and, wow, what a way to win!

"I mentioned often the importance of being able to attack teams in different ways," Hurts said. "I feel like for us as a football team, as an offense, it's like your favorite steakhouse, your favorite restaurant – 5-star, boujee restaurant you like to go to. You have your steak of the day, your selection of the day. For us, we can kind of do it all as you know. We do everything at a pretty consistent basis, that's what we strive for, and I think we've done that in moments this year, and I think that's our standard."

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