Jalen Hurts had a great first half; it was one of the very best stretches in his young career. The second-year quarterback connected with DeVonta Smith twice in the end zone. His numbers from the first 30 minutes: 15/20, 176 passing yards, 2 TD, 52 yards rushing.
Hurts cooled off in the second half. His numbers from the last 30 minutes: 1/3, 2 passing yards, 1 INT, 1 yard rushing. But it didn’t matter a ton because the Eagles were boosted by a huge fumble recovery by Darius Slay that turned into an 82-yard touchdown. Philly’s running game also helped control the clock and move the chains to take a three possession lead.
All told, it was a quality win for an Eagles team fighting to keep their postseason hopes alive. They’re still in the hunt for a spot in the NFC playoff picture. Perhaps even more importantly, the Birds got some encouraging performances from their younger players such as Hurts, Smith, Davion Taylor, and others.
Read on for a recap and stay tuned for BGN’s postgame coverage.
- The Broncos won the coin toss and elected to defer, setting up the Eagles to start on offense first. Jalen Hurts kicked things off with a keeper for a first down run. Then Boston Scott took a carry up the middle through a huge hole for another first and more. Scott picked up another first on a screen play that countered a Broncos blitz. Two completions to Quez Watkins got the Eagles into the red zone. On 3rd-and-6, Hurts bailed the pocket after seeing pressure and threw incomplete. Nick Sirianni quickly approached him for a conversation after the play. The Eagles settled for a 30-yard Jake Elliott field goal. Nice job of moving the ball but not ideal to leave points on the board. EAGLES 3, BRONCOS 0.
- Denver went three-and-out after Teddy Bridgewater completed a third down pass for a two-yard loss. Strong start by Jonathan Gannon’s unit.
- The Eagles took over at their own 20-yard line. Hurts lobbed a pass to Dallas Goedert with a defender in his face in the backfield to put the Eagles at 3rd-and-2. Nice play by the QB. On third down, the Eagles called a timeout. Why? In any event, the Eagles picked up a first with a Jordan Howard run up the middle. The Eagles tried running a jet sweep with Jalen Reagor and he was tackled for an 8-yard loss. On 3rd-and-12, Hurts did a nice job of keeping his eyes down the field and subtly avoiding pressure to buy time to connect with an open crossing Dallas Goedert for a first down. Goedert took a shot to the head after the first tackle but there was no penalty.
Dallas Goedert is in the medical tent getting checked for a concussion for this hit here— John Clark (@JClarkNBCS) November 14, 2021
With the Eagles at Denver’s 36-yard line, Hurts aired out a throw to DeVonta Smith in the end zone. The rookie wide receiver was tightly covered by former Alabama teammate Patrick Surtain II but it didn’t matter! Smith Moss’d him for a contested touchdown catch. Nice moment for WR1 on his 23-yard birthday. EAGLES 10, BRONCOS 0.
- The Broncos got to 3rd-and-2 from their own 45-yard line and picked up a big conversion. Then Avonte Maddox got called for taunting despite giving up the first down, which is just dumb.
- The Broncos pounded the rock to get into the red zone. Then goal-to-go territory. On 2nd-and-goal from the 1-yard line, Melvin Gordon went untouched up the middle for the Broncos’ first score. Ah, there’s that bend-but-also-break defense we’re used to seeing. EAGLES 10, BRONCOS 7.
- On 3rd-and-3, Hurts got hit as he threw and the Eagles were fortunate to jump on his fumble. Three-and-out. Probably didn’t help that the play got in late (second time in this game after taking a timeout earlier). Also didn’t help that there was poor blocking from Jordan Mailata and Tyree Jackson.
- Bridgewater completed a pass over the middle to Albert Okwuegbunam, who dodged a tackle from T.J. Edwards (really bad whiff!) and gobbled up open field for a 64-yard gain. Anthony Harris sure looked slow running after Denver’s backup 258-pound tight end. In fairness, Albert O is faster than I realized, but Harris has still been bad. Derek Barnett had his obligatory dumb penalty to turn 1st-and-goal from the 8-yard line to 1st-and-goal from the 4-yard line. The Broncos ultimately got to 4th-and-goal and kicked a short field goal since Vic Fangio is way too conservative. Not encouraging but could have been a lot worse. EAGLES 10, BRONCOS 10.
---> PHI (10) @ DEN (7) <---— 4th down decision bot (@ben_bot_baldwin) November 14, 2021
DEN has 4th & 3 at the PHI 3
Recommendation (MEDIUM): Go for it (+1.1 WP)
Actual play: B.McManus 21 yard field goal is GOOD, Center-J.Bobenmoyer, Holder-S.Martin. pic.twitter.com/pYLDTQWXmn
- Howard had a good run to break through contact for an 11-yard gain. Then Hurts recognized man coverage with no one accounting for him and took off running for a 31-yard gain (career high) into Broncos territory. The Eagles got to 3rd-and-2 and Scott took the RPO handoff for a first down. The Eagles moved into the red zone and Hurts hit a crossing Watkins for a 6-yard gain on 3rd-and-3. Kenneth Gainwell entered the game for the first time on 2nd-and-goal from the 5-yard line but he was tackled for no gain after taking a pitch from Hurts on the speed option. On 3rd-and-goal, Hurts found and an open Smith (when isn’t he getting open?) in the end zone for the rookie’s second touchdown of the day. Really nice drive by the quarterback and the offense as a whole. EAGLES 17, BRONCOS 10.
DeVonta Smith now has more career receiving yards than Jalen Reagor.— Yoshke Zoidberg (@YoshkeZoidberg) November 14, 2021
- On 3rd-and-11, Javon Hargrave and Derek Barnett teamed up to pressure Bridgewater with the latter ultimately notching the sack. Forced Denver into three-and-out.
- The refs threw a flag on a late hit on Kenneth Gainwell as the rookie was running out of bounds and then inexplicably picked it up. Not sure why the refs were letting the Broncos get away with so much late contact (also see: Goedert getting hurt, Hurts shoved while running out of bounds). Hey, Reagor actually did something positive! Nice catch for 12 yards along the left sideline to move the chains and stop the clock. At 3rd-and-10 from Denver’s 34-yard line with 0:15 on the clock, Hurts aired it out and had Watkins, who beat old friend Ronald Darby, in the end zone ... but the receiver dropped it. Perfect pass. Missed opportunity. At least Elliott hit the 52-yard field goal to make it a two score game. EAGLES 20, BRONCOS 10.
- The Broncos moved into Eagles territory with Bridgewater finding Courtland Sutton open in the middle of the field. A big run by Javonte Williams put Denver in goal-to-go territory. On third down from the 14-yard line, the Broncos gained 10 yards and settled for another short field goal. Except K’Von Wallace (most notable play in his Eagles career) was able to block it to prevent Denver from making it a one score game! Vic Fangio punished for his cowardice.
K'Von Wallace is the first Eagle to block a FG since Derek Barnett on 11/22/20 at Cleveland (Browns K Cody Parkey). The blocked FG was recovered by Alex Singleton. #FlyEaglesFly— John Gonoude (@john_gonoude) November 14, 2021
- The Eagles took over at their own 10-yard line. They got to 3rd-and-9 and Hurts nearly got picked by Patrick Surtain. Pretty fortunate that it was incomplete instead. Hurts’ first bad pass of the day could’ve been a lot more costly had DeVonta not helped to break it up.
- The Broncos picked up 19 yards on their punt return to take over at Philly’s 45-yard line. Williams took off for a 20-yard touchdown but it was called back on a holding penalty. The Eagles got a stop on 3rd-and-7 but it was negated by a Barnett roughing the passer penalty, because of course. Who else would it be? It’s always him. One can debate the merits of the penalty but Barnett hasn’t put himself in a position to earn the benefit of the doubt ... from officials or otherwise. The Broncos got knocked back with another flag of their own, setting up 3rd-and-20. Denver ended up settling for another field goal attempt, making it this time. One score game. EAGLES 20, BRONCOS 13.
- With Shelby Harris bearing down on him, Hurts floated a ball right to an open Broncos defender for a pretty bad pick. Pressure impacted the throw (looked like Hurts’ hand may have been hit?) but throwing into double coverage wasn’t looking like the best idea anyway. Also didn’t help that Gainwell missed his block in pass protection.
- The Broncos drove to 4th-and-1 from Philly’s 23-yard line and went for it. It looked like Melvin Gordon got over ... but, no, he fumbled! And Darius Slay picked it up and bobbled it and looked liked he was going to get tackled and maybe lose the ball while moving backwards but instead found a crease and took it 82 yards to the house! Lmao. What the hell was that? Looked so stranget. But, hey, it very much counts! Good forced fumble by Davion Taylor to set it all up. Nice to see the second-year LB getting better. EAGLES 27, BRONCOS 13.
Slay's 82-yard TD is the longest fumble recovery TD by an Eagle since Walter Thurmond's 83-yard score on 1/3/16 at N.Y. Giants. #FlyEaglesFly— John Gonoude (@john_gonoude) November 14, 2021
Darius Slay is in his ninth NFL season. He had just one career touchdown before this year. He has two touchdowns in the last three weeks.— Dave Zangaro (@DZangaroNBCS) November 14, 2021
Bridgewater wanted nothing to do with that tackle pic.twitter.com/irBRaqA09x— Patrick (@76Iggles) November 14, 2021
- Patrick Johnson tipped a pass that Williams caught for a 9-yard loss. Pretty dumb play by Denver. Good play by the Eagles’ rookie linebacker, who saw some meaningful defensive action for the first time in some time. Bridgewater had Jerry Jeudy wide open down the field on third down but overthrew him by 10+ yards.
- Two Howard carries took the Eagles into Broncos territory. A 25-yard put Philly in the red zone. Hurts picked up a first down on 3rd-and-2 with a run to the edge. The Eagles got to goal-to-go territory and Nate Herbig snapped a ball to Hurts’ feet. Thankfully, Jason Kelce was able to re-enter the game. The Eagles got to 3rd-and-goal from the 6-yard line and took their first timeout of the second half. Howard was stopped for a 1-yard gain and the Eagles settled for a short field goal make. EAGLES 30, BRONCOS 13.
- The Broncos went three-and-out with a chance to make it a two score game. Big stop by the Eagles’ D in Denver.
- The Eagles had a three-and-out after three straight runs. Nick Sirianni challenged the spot on Hurts’ third down run but the QB was clearly short.
- The Broncos got to 4th-and-7 from the Eagles’ 10-yard line and Bridgewater way overthrew his target in the end zone. Game.
- The Eagles had Marcus Epps replace Anthony Harris late in the second quarter. Harris did not appear to be injured considering he was watching from the sideline without being evaluated. Harris later returned to the field. Then he was out again. Then he was in again. On the seesaw. Then the Eagles subbed Rodney McLeod out with both Harris and Epps on the field.
- Dallas Goedert got looked at in the medical tent after taking a (not so legal?) shot to the head on the Eagles’ second drive. He went inside the tunnel for further evaluation and was later ruled OUT.
- Darius Slay got banged up on the final play of the first quarter. He quickly re-entered the game. Slay got shaken up again late in the fourth quarter and limped off the field.
- Jordan Howard limped off the field late in the third quarter. He was evaluated in the tent but returned.
- J.J. Arcega-Whiteside got banged up early in the fourth quarter. He’s been fighting injuries all season long. The Eagles said he was dealing with muscle cramps.
- Landon Dickerson got banged up with about 10 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. Sua Opeta came in to replace him at left guard. Dickerson later returned.
- Jason Kelce got banged up with nine minutes and change remaining in the fourth quarter. He was replaced by Nate Herbig at center for one (bad) snap before returning.
- Fletcher Cox got banged up in the middle of the fourth quarter. He looked to have some upper body pain but it didn’t stop him from returning.