The Eagles remained the only undefeated team in the NFL with an ugly 29-21 victory over visiting Doug Pederson and the Jacksonville Jaguars on an overcast Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field.
The Eagles pushed to 4-0, thanks in large part to two sacks and two fumble recoveries by linebacker Hasson Reddick, while Miles Sanders had his best day as a pro, rushing for a career-best 134 yards and two touchdowns on 27 carries.
The Eagles ran the ball a season-high 50 times on the soggy turf, taking some stress off of Jalen Hurts, who completed 16 of 25 passes for 204 yards, with a deflected pass returned for a pick-six on the Eagles’ opening drive.
The defense forced five turnovers from Trevor Lawrence and the Jags, with one key interception in the red zone and four fumble recoveries, sacking Lawrence a season-high four times, while forcing the former NFL Draft No. 1 pick to throw a season-low 11 completions.
The Eagles faced serious adversity for the first time this season and responded.
There was a lot of good, with a large portion of bad and ugly in the Eagles’ 29-21 victory over Jacksonville.
Linebacker Haason Reddick’ was a game-changing presence. His strip-sack of Lawrence and fumble recovery with 12:06 to play led to Sanders’ second TD and a 29-14 lead. In the second quarter, on third-and-one at the Jacksonville 35, Reddick’s fumble recovery led to the Eagles’ first lead. To seal the victory, Reddick ran through Jacksonville right tackle Jawan Taylor for his second sack of the game, stripping Lawrence a second time and causing the fifth Jags’ turnover with 1:48 remaining.
Cornerback James Bradberry’s third-quarter interception with 4:17 left on second-and-eight from the Eagles’ 16. Bradberry dropped his coverage on Marvin Jones and read Lawrence’s eyes in the direction of the intended receiver, Christian Kirk, making a leaping catch.
Defensive tackle Fletcher Cox pressuring Lawrence in fumbling the ball away on fourth-and-three at the Eagles’ 34 with 13:26 left in the first half. The turnover reversed the course of the game for the Eagles, who went on to score 20 unanswered points going into halftime.
After an offensive pass interference call on tight end Dallas Goedert, Hurts saved the drive—and possibly the game—with a 13-yard scramble on third-and-goal to the Jacksonville three. Hurts scored the Eagles’ first TD of the game on the next play.
Right guard Isaac Seumalo and right tackle Lane Johnson opening space on the right side for Hurts to run the fourth-and-goal quarterback draw that put the Eagles on the board.
Sanders’ second-quarter 10-yard touchdown run that tied the game at 14-14. Again, Seumalo sealed off defensive end Adam Gotsis, while Johnson kicked out linebacker Arden Key to create a running lane for Sanders. Sanders finished with a career-best 134 yards rushing, and two touchdowns on 27 carries. Sanders later broke free of several defenders for seven yards on a third-and-five at the Jacksonville 35 with 2:57 to play.
Running back Kenneth Gainwell’s go-ahead, second-quarter 10-yard touchdown run, made possible by left guard Landon Dickerson pushing out linebacker Josh Allen, center Jason Kelce and Seumalo sealing off Gotsis. Prior to the snap, Seumalo tapped Kelce on the right leg, and two combined to just shove Gotsis out of the way.
Sanders’ breaking free for a 35-yard run with just over 3:00 left in the third quarter. Kelce blocked two Jags at once, when he took on tackle DaVon Hamilton and linebacker Foyesade Oluokun ran into him, with Dickerson kicking out Roy Robinson-Harris.
Receiver A.J. Brown’s first catch, which went for 31 yards on their first play of their third drive on a first-and-10 at the 22. The catch seemed to get the Eagles offense going.
Linebacker Patrick Johnson smacking the ball out of James Robinson’s hands from behind on Jacksonville’s second possession at the Eagles’ 12. Jacksonville’s Kirk recovered at the Eagles’ three.
Goedert’s 26-yard screen reception, which set up the Eagles’ first score.
Eagles’ head coach Nick Sirianni opting to go for it on fourth-and-one at the Eagles’ 30.
On the Eagles’ second play of the game, on second-and-10 at their 21, center Kelce getting out to block the Jags’ Oluokun and Seumalo occupying defensive end Folorunso Fatukasi on Sanders’ nine-yard run. Kelce and Seumalo combined to create a gaping hole for Sanders.
On the Jags’ opening drive, safety Marcus Epps deflecting a pass on a second-and-five from the Jags’ 28.
With 8:00 to play, safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson and Eagles’ cornerback Josiah Scott somehow losing Kirk down the middle of the field for a 45-yard reception, which led to Agnew’s second TD rand made what appeared to be an easy walk into a struggle again.
Scott missing Agnew in the open field on his second TD with 7:19 to play, which brought Jacksonville to within one possession, 29-21.
Sirianni opting to go for it on fourth-and-three at the Jacksonville 40 on the Eagles’ last play of the first quarter. The Eagles were fortunate Lawrence fumbled the ball away on the next drive, or the game could have otherwise slipped quickly out of control, already trailing 14-0. At that stage of the game, it was far too risky and could have seriously backfired. It’s a mistake Sirianni will hopefully not make again at that juncture in a game.
Eagles’ receiver Zach Pascal being flagged for a false start on the Eagles’ first drive on a first-and-10 at the Philadelphia 33. It forced a first-and-15 and zapped some early momentum after the Eagles just converted a fourth-and-one.
Kicker Jake Elliott’s missed extra point on the Gainwell touchdown that gave the Eagles a 20-14 lead going into halftime. It’s the first missed extra point Elliott missed this season.
Reddick losing outside contain when Lawrence rolled right to hit Dan Arnold for a 26-yard gain to the Eagles’ 25—and Scott for letting Arnold run right by him in coverage.
Scott was later called for defensive holding on a second-and-three at the Eagles’ 33 with 6:16 left in the third quarter.
Gardner-Johnson not picking up Agnew fast enough out of the backfield. Agnew was out in the flat alone for Jacksonville’s second touchdown. The Eagles had given up a total of 15 points the previous two weeks and quickly surrendered 14 to Jacksonville in the first 11 minutes and 10 seconds.
Sirianni could have put the game out of reach with a field goal on fourth-and-three at the Jacksonville 21 with 1:54 to play, but instead decided to go for it. It resulted in an incomplete pass to Brown. Fortunately, and ironically, a lost Lawrence fumble bailed Sirianni and the Eagles out again as it did in the first half, when Lawrence lost a fumble with the Jags up, 14-0, and driving at the Eagles’ 34.
Goedert getting flagged for offensive pass interference—which came right after his 26-yard reception set up the Eagles at the Jacksonville 10 early in the second quarter. It forced a bad situation, saved by Hurts, who scored from the Jacksonville three on a fourth-and-goal.
On the Eagles’ first drive, Hurts trying to hit Pascal on second-and-seven at the Eagles’ 36, which resulted in Andre Cisco’s 59-yard touchdown interception return. Hurts read everything wrong, trying to squeeze a pass in between Jacksonville cornerback Darious Williams and safety Rayshawn Jenkins. It was Jacksonville’s seventh interception this season (the Jags had seven all of 2021) and came when Williams deflected the pass.
Uglier—the Eagles’ effort in tackling Cisco. It looked like A.J. Brown didn’t know what to do for Cisco, block for him and watch him run by. Left tackle Jordan Mailata was injured on the play at least making an attempt at Cisco.
The Eagles’ first quarter. They were giving up 7.4 yards per play, were thoroughly outcoached and thoroughly outplayed. Jags defensive coordinator and former Eagle Mike Caldwell did a very good job bottling up Hurts and forcing him to be patient with his reads. It all translated into a 14-0 Jacksonville lead. That, however, didn’t last long.
Joseph Santoliquito is an award-winning sportswriter based in the Philadelphia area who has written feature stories for SI.com, ESPN.com, NFL.com, MLB.com, Deadspin and The Philadelphia Daily News. In 2006, he was nominated for an Emmy Award for a special project piece for ESPN.com called “Love at First Beep.” He is most noted for his award-winning ESPN.com feature on high school wrestler A.J. Detwiler in February 2006, which appeared on SportsCenter. In 2015, he was elected president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.