The Eagles had perhaps their best win in more than two years last night as they ran, threw and intercepted their way past the Minnesota Vikings.
Let's start with the unquestioned star of the game - and the season so far - quarterback Jalen Hurts.
Last week, Hurts used his legs to create extra time against a blitz-happy Detroit defense to ring up 330 yards with a touchdown. More importantly, the Eagles scored four TDs and a field goal on offense to outlast a scrappy Lions team that may be better than everyone gives them credit for.
This week, the Vikings had a game plan - force Hurts to stay within the pocket and find open receivers against their zone coverage. And as we all witnessed, that plan was crap.
Hurts had arguably the best passing day of his career, throwing for 333 yards and a TD on 31 attempts. But, more importantly, it was his incompletions that really told the story. He had an interception that Kenny Gainwell let clank off his hands, Dallas Goedert let a perfect throw in between defenders hit the ground and another incompletion was a deep shot that made the Vikings back off their coverage which let the Eagles march down the field in the final two minutes to kick a field goal at the end of the first half.
This was important, because one of the many criticisms of Hurts coming into the season was that he lacked the passing ability to put up points in two-minute situations, and now he has led scoring drives at the end of each first half of the season.
The Eagles didn't score in the second half, but Hurts was hardly the problem in this regard. On the first drive of the half, Hurts drove the team into the red zone, but two false start penalties derailed the drive, which led to the blocked field goal.
On the second drive, Hurts hit Quez Watkins on a long pass that would have set them up in Vikings territory, but it was wiped out by a holding call, effectively ending that drive.
The Gainwell interception ended the third drive, and the fourth drive was pretty much just runs to salt away the game. Even in the first half, the Eagles only had two drives that failed to generate points, and one of them was derailed by a phantom offensive pass interference penalty.
Overall, this is what we need to see from the qb, and hopefully the offense cleans up its mistakes. More importantly, the Vikings were intent on making Hurts go to his left, and they paid the price for that, too. Of his pass attempts, only eight were inside the left hash. He made his living throwing left all night, and the Vikings had no answer.
On defense, we finally played a scheme that made sense. Slay and Bradberry were asked to play man coverage, and Kirk Cousins had no answer. We blitzed at the right times and basically said to him, you have to beat us.
We did get a few lucky breaks, most notably a dropped TD pass to Irv Smith. But holding a team like the Vikings to just one scoring drive and forcing numerous turnovers was exactly what we needed after last week.
Overall, I would like to see more from the defensive line. I still feel like they have yet to really take over a game. But this week was a lot better, and I think we will continue to see improvement on that side of the ball.
And that, perhaps, is the most encouraging sign to me. We won despite not having our "A" game. This team can get better by fixing some relatively easy things. Gannon has to get more comfortable taking risks on defense. He should be coaching much more aggressively because giving up a big play won't necessarily kill us. We have the weapons on offense to win in a shootout.
The offense has to clean up its mistakes. They are leaving too many points on the field due to penalties and drops.
But the most important thing to me is that we won one of those "key" games I wrote about a few weeks ago. Before the season, I noted six games that we would play against likely playoff teams, and this was one of them. I said at the time that those games would tell us a lot about this team, and I think we saw that last night.
Obviously things could all go wrong in a hurry, and we have been down this road before. But at least right now I am really encouraged by what I saw on the field.