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FINAL SCORE: Eagles beat Saints in Jalen Hurts’ first NFL start, 24 to 21

Upset!

NFL: New Orleans Saints at Philadelphia Eagles James Lang-USA TODAY Sports

Would you look at that! The Philadelphia Eagles won a football game!

The Birds pulled off an unexpected upset against the New Orleans Saints. Not a bad result for Jalen Hurts’ first career NFL start.

Final score: 24 to 21.

The Eagles are now 4-8-1 on the season. And thus still alive in the NFC East!

Read on for observations and postgame thoughts.

FIRST QUARTER

  • Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney McLeod were the two captains for the coin toss. They hugged it out. The Eagles won and elected to defer. Then hilarity ensued:
  • The Saints went three-and-out after two failed screens. Good start by the defense. The Eagles had Greg Ward — and not Jalen Reagor, who returned a punt for a touchdown last week — on the punt return. Makes no sense.
  • Jalen Hurts picked up a first down with his legs on 3rd-and-4. Zach Ertz dropped a pass as he was being tackled to bring up a 3rd-and-8. A quick screen to Jalen Reagor, who made a defender miss (nice!), brought up 4th-and-1 from the Saints’ 46-yard line. Hurts ran up the middle on fourth down for another first. Sanders ran for another first but it got called back for an illegal shift. Then Ward false started to bring up 3rd-and-11. Hurts ran yet again to bring up 4th-and-2. Sanders was tackled for a loss by Malcolm Jenkins (naturally) for a turnover on downs. Pretty fine with the decision to not kick there considering Jake Elliott’s inconsistency. Would’ve liked to see Doug Pederson put the ball in Hurts’ hands though. 13 plays to get 39 yards and zero points.
  • Darius Slay gave up an 18-yard gain to Michael Thomas. The Saints moved to the Eagles’ 27-yard line before settling for a 45-yard Will Lutz field goal attempt ... and it was no good! Wide right.
  • Hurts had Reagor open deep down the field but the rookie quarterback threw a little too far out in front of the rookie wide receiver. Reagor could’ve tried to lay out for it but didn’t. Hurts found Reagor wiiiiiiiide open thanks to a Saints busted coverage for a 39-yard catch-and-run.

SECOND QUARTER

  • The Eagles got to 4th-and-2 from the 15-yard line. Hurts had pressure bearing down on him on fourth down but he hung in and delivered a back-shoulder throw to Alshon Jeffery (!) for a touchdown! Hurts got crushed; the Saints were called for roughing the passer on the play. Impressive pass by the rookie. And, hey, Jeffery’s first touchdown since Week 13 last year! EAGLES 7, SAINTS 0.
  • Tre’Quan Smith dropped a third down pass from Taysom Hill to bring up another Saints punt. Ward, not Reagor, was back again. He almost let the ball get pinned deep in Eagles territory but the ball rolled in Philly’s favor for a touchback instead. Fortunate.
  • Hurts hit Dallas Goedert for a 19-yard gain but then the offense stalled. Punt.
  • Jalen Mills hit Hill as he was throwing a screen and the ball bounced off Alvin Kamara’s hands and into Duke Riley’s for an interception!
  • The Eagles took over as the Saints’ 32-yard line. Ertz made a real tough sideline grab on 3rd-and-4 but it was ruled out of bounds. Pederson threw his challenge flag but the ruling stood after review. Tough to tell for sure, wasn’t enough clear evidence to overturn. Probably would’ve been upheld as a catch if that was the initial ruling. Jake Elliott came in for a 44-yard field goal attempt and he ... made it! A double digit lead! EAGLES 10, SAINTS 0.
  • Javon Hargrave, who has been at his best lately, sacked Hill. The Saints got a first down anyway. The Saints got to 3rd-and-1 and Duke Riley (!) stopped Hill for no gain. The Saints punted and Ward decided not to field it around the 20-yard line, which was dumb, because the ball was downed at the 4-yard line. Get Ward off punt return duty.
  • Nate Herbig’s false start knocked the Eagles back to their 3-yard line. Hurts kept the ball on a read and ran for a first. Sanders busted through the Saints’ defense and gave a stiff arm to Jenkins en route to an 82-yard EAGLES TOUCHDOWN. The offense! It lives! Three score lead! EAGLES 17, SAINTS 0.
  • Fletcher Cox sacked Hill to force a punt. Whole team is playing with a different energy.
  • The Eagles took over at their own 23-yard line with 0:57 on the clock and one timeout to work with. Boston Scott did a bad job of not getting out of bounds on a first down conversion. Hurts took off running for 24 yards and a defensive penalty tacked five more on. Hurts ran again for 16 yards to bring up 1st-and-goal from the 8-yard line with 0:09 on the clock. Hurts threw the ball away and got hit late to set up a 22-yard field goal attempt. Elliott missed it by kicking it into the left upright. That’s pathetic. Wasted an impressive drive by the Eagles’ rookie quarterback.

THIRD QUARTER

  • The Eagles went three-and-out to start the second half.
  • The Saints used 10 plays to go 65 yards for their first touchdown. Tough drive for the defense with multiple starters getting hurt. EAGLES 17, SAINTS 7.
  • The Eagles go to 4th-and-1 from the Saints’ 40-yard line. They tried to sneak it with Hurts but he was stopped. They should’ve put Carson Wentz in for that! Not kidding.
  • Hill aired it out deep to Emmanuel Sanders, who roasted Kevon Seymour, for another Saints touchdown. Can’t say that was unexpected. Defense unraveled by injury. EAGLES 17, SAINTS 14.

FOURTH QUARTER

  • Hurts had a potential pick-six dropped by Chauncey Gardner-Johnson. Yikes.
  • Nice 54-yard punt from Cameron Johnston that was downed at the Saints’ 5-yard line.
  • Nickell Robey-Coleman missed a tackle that would’ve dropped the Saints for a loss to instead bring up a 2nd-and-1. Jalen Mills missed a tackle on a Kamara run as the Saints moved past midfield. Alex Singleton missed a tackle on a Kamara swing pass. Lots of poor tackling. Josh Sweat came up big by strip-sacking Hill from behind and Hargrave recovered!
  • The Eagles took over at their own 42-yard line. Hurts ran for a first down to put him over 100 yards on the ground. The Eagles ran a reverse to Reagor for a 19-yard gain. Nice to see that kind of utilization! The Saints got called for defensive holding to bring up 1st-and-goal from the 2-yard line. The Saints got called for encroachment to bring up 1st-and-goal from the 1-yard line. Then Herbig false started to knock the Eagles back. Nasty Nate has some penalties to clean up. No matter, though, because Sanders was able to punch it in up the middle. 10-point lead with 6:22 remaining. EAGLES 24, SAINTS 14.
  • Vinny Curry missed a chance to sack Hill as the Saints moved into field goal range. Sweat came up with another big blindside sack on Hill. Hargrave picked up another sack — defensive line domination — to force the Saints into a 57-yard field goal attempt. Lutz missed it wide left!
  • The Eagles took over at their own 47-yard line with 1:55 left. The Saints only had two timeouts to work with. The Eagles ran Scott to leave the Saints with one timeout. Then Hurts ran but fumbled and the Saints recovered. Not good!
  • The Saints took over at the 49-yard line with 1:44 left. Hill hit Tre’Quan Smith, who burned Kevon Seymour, for a 31-yard gain. Uncomfortable! Hill completed a pass to Jared Cook, who beat Singleton on a contested catch, in the middle of the end zone for a touchdown. 3-point game with 1:24 to play. EAGLES 24, SAINTS 21.
  • The Saints went for an onside kick and it looked like they may have gotten it after it went off Corey Clement ... but it was ruled an Eagles recovery. Pretty fortunate break!
  • The Eagles used the victory formation to run out the clock. Quez Watkins did a pretty sick backflip after the final kneel.

FINAL SCORE: 24 to 21, Eagles WIN


RAPID REACTION

  • Pretty nice starting debut for Hurts! His passing numbers weren’t gaudy; 17/30 for 167 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT, 83.6 passer rating. And they could’ve been worse if he didn’t have a pick dropped. But there’s no denying the offense functioned with Hurts. And the entire team just had a different (read: improved) energy with Carson Wentz on the bench.
  • Hurts’ mobility was big in this game. He didn’t take a single sack (!) and he ran 18 times for 106 yards. Refreshing to see that dynamic.
  • Doug Pederson called a pretty good game!
  • Overall good game by the defense, which got decimated by injuries.
  • Miles Sanders, home run hitter.
  • Bad result if you wanted to see the Eagles get a higher draft pick. They would’ve been fourth overall with the Cowboys and Chargers winning. Instead, they’re now at No. 9 overall.

INJURIES

  • Jalen Reagor got looked at in the medical tent after his 39-yard catch. He missed a series before coming back in.
  • Avonte Maddox (knee) got hurt late in the second quarter. He did not return.
  • Darius Slay (head) and Rodney McLeod (knee) both got hurt on the same play midway through the third quarter. They were both ruled out fairly quickly.
  • Shaun Bradley got hurt midway through the third quarter.
  • Malik Jackson got hurt early in the fourth quarter.
  • Derek Barnett got hurt after notching a quarterback early in the fourth quarter.
  • Josh Sweat slowly walked to the locker room late in the fourth quarter.