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Eagles must learn how to win in crunch time

New York Jets v Philadelphia Eagles Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

The Eagles were 1-1 last season in games decided by three points or less (21-18 victory at Carolina; 27-24 loss at home against the Los Angeles Chargers). Excluding the Carolina victory, most of the Eagles’ victories last season came by blowout, outscoring their opponents by 260 to 115, averaging 32.5 points a game in those eight games, while giving up an average of 14.3, winning by an average of 19.2 points.

What set off the 2017 Eagles on their Super Bowl quest came in Week 6 of that season, when on a short week the depleted Eagles went down and beat the Carolina Panthers, 28-23, on a Thursday night. This was a Panthers team one year removed from a 15-1 season and a Super Bowl appearance, and when Cam Newton was still good.

That signature victory told the 2017 Eagles that they could win.

It’s what this 2022 Eagles team will be searching for this season—that signature, clutch victory that tells them that they can win, too.

Much of that will depend on how quarterback Jalen Hurts performs in the fourth quarter.

Last season, Hurts completed 65 of 107 passes for 784 yards, with 7 touchdowns against no interceptions in the fourth quarter, while rushing/scrambling for 182 yards and four more touchdowns. Impressive, though somewhat deceiving. Many of those numbers came in blowout victories, or while the Eagles were being blown out. His seven fourth-quarter touchdown passes came against Atlanta (32-6 victory), Dallas (trailing 41-14 in a 41-21 loss), Kansas City (trailing 42-23 in a 42-30 loss), Las Vegas (trailing 33-14 in a 33-22 loss), Los Angeles Chargers (that tied the game at 24-24 in a 27-24 last-second loss), Washington (leading 20-17 in a 27-17 victory) and the New York Giants (to Lane Johnson, leading 20-3 in a 34-10 victory against overmatched Jake Fromm). His rushing scores came against San Francisco (in a 17-11 loss), Carolina (the game-winning score in a 21-18 victory, set up by a blocked punt), Tampa Bay (trailing 28-14 in a 28-22 loss) and New Orleans (leading 33-22 in a 40-29 victory).

Here are two shining templates the Eagles and Hurts have: Against the Chargers, Hurts was 4-for-4 in the fourth quarter, for 45 yards in the game-tying drive, which included a 28-yard touchdown pass to DeVonta Smith with 6:07 left to play. Hurts also converted two crucial third-down runs in that series, scrambles that led to 15 yards. Unfortunately, the defense bent to Justin Herbert, who completed five of six passes for 37 yards and whittled down the remaining clock to win the game.

Against Carolina, Hurts’ touchdown led to the winning score, helped by a game-changing blocked punt by T.J. Edwards, which saved the Eagles and led to Hurts’ six-yard score with 2:32 left to play. Hurts did complete a 20-yard pass to Dallas Goedert on the winning drive, but he also tossed a worm ball in Goedert’s direction in the same series.

And, Hurts does have two fourth quarterback comeback victories to his credit so far, the Carolina victory, and he did direct the Eagles to two Jake Elliott fourth-quarter field goals in the Eagles’ 20-16 victory over Washington on January 2 that clinched the Eagles’ playoff berth.

If there is one signature target game for the 2022 Eagles to prove that they could win it may be against Dallas at home on national TV on Sunday night, October 16. Hurts is 1-2 in three games against the Cowboys. The Eagles could be 4-1 or 5-0 entering that game (though Minnesota and Arizona aren’t gimmes). Eagles’ head coach Nick Sirianni was blown out twice by the Cowboys in his first year by a combined score of 92-47.

The platform could not be served up any better for this Eagles team to find out what it needs to do to win than before a frothing-at-the-mouth Eagles’ crew on national TV at the Linc.

Joseph Santoliquito is an award-winning sportswriter based in the Philadelphia area who has written feature stories for,,,, Deadspin and The Philadelphia Daily News. In 2006, he was nominated for an Emmy Award for a special project piece for called “Love at First Beep.” He is most noted for his award-winning 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.

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