The Eagles remained the only undefeated team in the NFL by escaping the Arizona Cardinals, 20-17, on Sunday at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.
This is the third time in franchise history the Eagles have started the season 5-0 (1981 and 2004 were the other two times).
Jalen Hurts completed 26 of 36 passes for 239 yards, while he rushed for a game-high 61 yards and the Eagles’ only two touchdowns. Arizona’s dynamic Kyler Murray was contained, completing 28 of 42 passes for 250 yards and a touchdown.
Murray made a crucial mistake in the last minute, when he slid at the Eagles’ 25, a yard short of a first down on second-and-10. Instead of snapping the ball and driving for the first down, Murray, apparently, lost track of the downs and distance, spiked it. That forced Cardinals’ replacement kicker Matt Ammendola into trying a game-tying 43-yard field that sailed wide right.
There was a lot of good, with a large dose of bad and ugly in the Eagles’ 20-17 victory over Arizona.
The Eagles’ first drive. It was an 11-play, 64-yard drive that took 4:13, and over the 11 plays the Eagles faced only one third down and a converted fourth down that ended with Jalen Hurts’ first of two one-yard touchdown runs. The Eagles used a great mix of plays, running the ball four times and passing seven times.
Coach Nick Sirianni deciding to go for it on fourth-and-one at the Cardinals’ three. Hurts easily got the yard and the Eagles went up 7-0 on the next play.
Tight end Dallas Goedert pulling Hurts into the end zone on the opening drive, and running back Kenneth Gainwell shoving the quarterback in from a yard out. On third-and-12 at the Arizona 36, with 4:28 to play, Goedert came up with a huge 16-yard reception to the Cardinals’ 20. The tight end grabbed eight passes on nine targets for a team-high 95 yards receiving.
Safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson intercepting Murray, his third time picked off this season, which came on the Cardinals’ second possession. Murray was looking for Hollywood Brown when Gardner-Johnson simply stepped into the middle of the field.
On the Cardinals’ third series, on second and five at the Eagles’ 47, defensive end Josh Sweat forcing Rondale Moore out of bounds for a five-yard loss and forcing Arizona to punt.
On the Eagles’ third drive, Hurts rolling left and throwing on the run to find receiver DeVonta Smith on third-and-12 at the Eagles’ 12 for a 22-yard completion and extending the series. Smith was as big a part of the play, diving to make the catch.
Running back Miles Sanders’ driving four-yard run on third-and-three on the Eagles’ third possession at the Cardinals’ 32, prolonging the series and leading to Hurts’ second TD.
Safety Marcus Epps breaking up a Murray pass on a third-and-four at the Arizona 28 to Zack Ertz with 2:00 left in the half.
Linebacker Haason Reddick sacking Murray with 5:20 left in the third quarter on third-and-11 at the Arizona 46. The Cardinals had been driving, converting a couple of third downs and were moving.
Kicker Cameron Dicker’s 42-yard, third-quarter field goal, a game-changing 23-yard, fourth-quarter field goal and two converted extra points.
Rookie tackle Jordan Davis’ taking down Eno Benjamin on a second-and-one at the Arizona 30 for no gain with 13:38 left to play.
Hurts got away with an underthrown pass to A.J. Brown with 9:11 left in the first half, which fortunately was not intercepted by Arizona safety Jalen Thompson, who juggled the ball.
Smith’s dropped pass with 1:08 left in the third quarter on a second-and-eight at the Arizona 39.
Gainwell missing blocks on Hurts’ 10-yard sack by J.J. Watt and Byron Murphy on the Eagles’ last play of the third quarter.
The Eagles’ passive defense on Arizona’s 12-play, 90-yard drive that ended with Eno Benjamin’s 11-yard score with 9:43 to play that tied the score at 17-17. Arizona ran the ball six times and passed six times, with Benjamin gouging the Eagles for 38 yards on the drive.
With 5:24 left to play in the half, linebacker T.J. Edwards, safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson and cornerback Darius Slay all whiffing on tackling Hollywood Brown’s 25-yard TD pass from Murray on a third-and-three play.
Brown nailed for a holding call that negated Hurts’ 10-yard run on the Eagles’ third possession on a first-and-10 at the Cardinals’ 11. The call came when Brown got caught with his arms outside trying to block Arizona linebacker Isaiah Simmons at the goal line. Hurts eventually scored from a yard out with 10:11 to play in the half for a 14-0 Eagles’ lead.
The Eagles’ punt return team in the final two minutes of the half. The Cardinals completely surprised the Eagles when Darrell Williams took a direct snap on a fourth-and-four play at the Arizona 28 for a first down.
Edwards was having a tough day. With less than a minute left in the half, James Conner bulled his way for 17 yards on a third-and-1 at the Eagles’ 38. Edwards bounced off of Conner and nickel back Josiah Scott. The play led to Matt Ammendola’s 20-yard field goal on the last play of the half.
On the first second half possession, when back-up left guard Sua Opeta got called for holding on first-and-10 at the Arizona 15. The penalty negated Sanders’ 11-yard run and pushed the Eagles back to the 25. It also killed the momentum the Eagles had on their first drive of the second half, forcing them to settle for a Cameron Dicker 42-yard field goal.
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.