PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Jalen Hurts showed a rare moment of candor for a player who barely acknowledges he’s playing through injury. The effects of a bruised left knee that forced him to hobble to the sideline just before halftime are taking a toll.
Yes, even Hurts needs time off.
“Selfishly,” he said, “I don’t think the bye week could have come at a better time.”
The Eagles stand strong as the only 8-1 team in the NFL even as Hurts stands in pain. The Eagles are off this week ahead of a Super Bowl rematch against Kansas City, giving Hurts a needed respite from the lingering pain in his knee that has plagued him most of the season. Hurts keeps brushing off questions about the severity of the injury — even feigning ignorance when asked about a direct helmet-to-knee hit that briefly staggered him in a win against Dallas — because that’s just the way he’s built.
“That’s who he is,” Philadelphia coach Nick Sirianni said. “Whether his body is feeling 100%, whether his body is not feeling 100%, which nobody’s body is at this particular time, he’s a warrior. He’s going to play through bumps and bruises and at a high level because he’s a big-time player."
The defending NFC champions are in firm control of the NFC East. Sunday’s win gives them not only a 2 1/2-game lead in the standings, the Eagles can tack on an extra game because they hold the tiebreaker over the Cowboys.
Hurts set a franchise QB record with his 33rd career rushing TD and moved to sixth on the Eagles’ career list for passing yards. The 25-year-old should have a long career ahead of him to try to set the record. But so much, of course, depends on his health.
Hurts said he doesn’t know to manage the injury going forward. A week off is expected to help. His teammates have gushed over the way Hurts continues to thrive despite injuries.
“I don’t like it being that way,” Hurts said. “I love to be all good, but I’d do anything for this city and for my teammates.”
Teamwork. Take a look at the final stats and there was nothing on paper that really stood out. No 100-yard rusher. No 100-yard receiver. Hurts’ passing numbers alone weren’t necessarily eye-popping. And 10 penalties for 98 yards was pretty outrageous.
But when the Eagles really needed a play made, someone stepped up.
DeVonta Smith was open in the corner of the end zone for a 29-yard score and 21-17 lead. Linebacker Zach Cunningham prevented a score on a hit that flipped Dak Prescott to the 1-yard line. Josh Sweat sacked Prescott for an 11-yard loss on the final drive that essentially ended Dallas’ last-gasp comeback effort. When a clutch play needed to be made, the Eagles found a way to make one.
WHAT NEEDS HELP
The secondary. Prescott threw for 374 yards and three touchdowns. A week earlier, Washington’s Sam Howell threw for 397 yards and four touchdowns. Miami’s Tua Tagovailoa threw for 324 yards and three touchdowns the week before that one.
The Eagles have made moves to upgrade the secondary, notably trading for two-time All-Pro safety Kevin Byard. But a combination of injuries and inexperience have the Eagles sagging in the backfield.
Defensive end Brandon Graham. Graham chased Prescott out of bounds on a 2-point conversion attempt and then had 1 1/2 sacks on consecutive plays to thwart a Dallas drive. Graham had a career-best 11 sacks a year ago but changes in the rotation have led to diminished playing time for the 35-year-old 2010 first-round pick. He had only a 1/2 sack entering Sunday. Graham proved he still has big plays left in the tank.
Byard didn’t impress in his first home game, drawing an unnecessary roughness penalty in the fourth quarter. Much like all the passing yards gained against Philly, the penalties haven’t really cost the Eagles yet. But there could come a time when they catch up to them.
The Eagles lost tight end Dallas Goedert to a significant right forearm injury after he was dragged down by the arm on a tackle. Goedert’s number hasn’t been called as much this season; he has a modest 38 catches for 410 yards and two touchdowns. Jack Stoll and Grant Calcaterra are among the top candidates to replace Goedert.
25 — The Eagles are 25-2 in their last 27 regular-season games started by Hurts. Since 2021, Hurts has a .769 winning percentage (30-9), tops among all NFL QBs. He is just the fifth NFL QB since 1950 to win 25-plus games over the span of 27 starts in the regular season, joining Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Jim McMahon and Joe Montana.
The Eagles have a Super Bowl rematch when they return from their bye to play the Kansas City Chiefs on “Monday Night Football.” The Nov. 20 game is also another edition of the Kelce Bowl. Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce faces his brother, podcast partner and Eagles center Jason Kelce.
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