Jalen Hurts just had his MVP moment


Jalen Hurts is a winner.

Say it out loud. Write it down. Type it out. Make sure you have those five words ready to go at the first sign of any Hurts debate now or in the future.

Sunday’s 17-16 win over the Colts wasn’t a masterpiece. In fact, it was ugly. The Eagles snatched a victory from the jaws of defeat. They did it with a spirited effort by a maligned defense, better-than-you-think defensive coordinator, and recently-signed reinforcements playing a major role.

But the biggest reason why this team is 9-1 and on a path toward the No. 1 seed in the NFC: A quarterback that just had his NFL MVP moment within a fourth quarter to remember.

Hurts did exactly what I called for last week on WIP: Whatever it takes to win.

And for the first time in about a month, it included impact from the legs of one of the NFL’s best dual-threat quarterbacks. The raw numbers (18/25, 190 passing yards, 1 TD, 0 INT, 1 lost fumble; 16 rushes, 86 yards, 1 rushing TD) don’t do Hurts’ performance justice. Think back to how Hurts performed in the fourth quarter. When the Eagles desperately needed scores, he delivered.

In the air, it was a beautiful deep crossing pattern to Quez Watkins for a touchdown. It was a 2nd and 10 throw to A.J. Brown setting up a manageable third down. It was scrambling away from pressure and avoiding costly sacks that had plagued the offense for the previous seven quarters.

Then, of course, there was the designed ground attack. Hurts’ running ability is still his default and bread-and-butter when things are going sideways. In reality, the run game still represents that for this team. A lot has changed with the Eagles over the last calendar year, but this much hasn’t: When the team needs a drive to seal or win a game and can lean on the ground attack, it does. It happened in Arizona. It happened again today. Hurts wasn’t going to be denied on a crucial fourth down. And when the right play call came in, there was almost no doubt he’d end up in the end zone with the game-winning score.

Hurts reminds me so much of Titans-era Steve McNair. It’s not pretty. It doesn’t match the eye test of the league’s top quarterback (and current MVP favorite) Patrick Mahomes. But it's the truest form of value. Hurts, like McNair in his day, plays winning football. His decision making and ability to make plays elevates his team. In 2003, McNair was the co-MVP with Peyton Manning. Perhaps Mahomes wins the award outright. Maybe Hurts and the Eagles go 14-3, and the second-year starter steals it. Maybe the new voting system leads to a split vote for another co-MVP.

However it ends, we’ll remember this fourth quarter. We’ll remember Hurts refusing to let the Eagles lose, using both his arms and legs. We’ll remember positive play after positive play, in a moment where one negative play could have cost the Eagles the game.

As Week 11 comes to a close, here’s how I’d fill out my (hypothetical) MVP ballot:

1. Mahomes

2. Hurts

3. Tua Tagovailoa

4. Josh Allen

5. Joe Burrow

While we can reasonably call this fourth quarter Hurts’ most impressive of the season, the results shouldn’t be surprising. Here’s how Hurts has performed in the fourth quarter this season:

Completion percentage: 73.7%

Passing TD: 4

INT: 1

Passer rating: 120.8 rating

Rushes: 42 carries

Rushing yards: 114 yards

Rushing TD: 1

If you factor in how many big leads the Eagles have racked up early in games and simply ran the clock out in the fourth quarter (including Hurts sitting all of the final quarter vs. Pittsburgh), the numbers become more impressive. When the team has needed it, Hurts has played like a star in the money quarter. It happened again on Sunday, just like has often as Hurts’ Eagles have gone 14-3 in his last 17 regular season games.

The 2022 season has shined a light on Hurts’ growth as a passer and ascension to star status. His league MVP consideration to this point, however, was likely more of a commentary on his place as the quarterback of a team that was undefeated until a week ago more than otherworldly dominance.

The Eagles were winning with Hurts, and he was playing very, very well. That was clear. After Sunday’s hard-fought win, we can now add this to Hurts’ MVP credentials: They won *because* of Hurts’ clutch fourth quarter.

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