Jalen Hurts turns in MVP performance in much-needed Eagles win over Packers

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The Eagles really, really needed more than a win on Sunday night.

They needed a dominating performance. They needed the offense to look alive. They needed to show they can look like the team they did earlier in the season.

They did most of that in their win over the Green Bay Packers.

The Eagles moved to 10-1 on Sunday night with a 40-33 win over the Packers, a win that not only will go a long way in restoring some confidence in their offense, but kept them in great position to clinch the No. 1 seed in the NFC.

The primetime performance was also a boost for Jalen Hurts’ MVP odds, who put the offense on his back for the majority of the game, both on the ground and through the air.

There will be plenty to talk about from this one, but for now, here are some thoughts from throughout the game:

4th Quarter: 
How dominant were the Eagles running the ball on Sunday night? On the opening drive of the fourth quarter the Eagles went right down the field (again) on the Packers, and by the time they had a 37-23 lead, they had amassed 311 rushing yards on 37 attempts, giving them a total of 447 yards of offense in just over three quarters.

It was that kind of night for the offense, that knew they could run against a bad Packers’ run defense, and went out to do just that in a dominating fashion in prime time. Everyone on offense chipped in, with the offensive line opening up a ton of holes, and the running backs making the most of them. Hurt certainly added to that total as well, through both designed runs and improvising at the end of broken plays.

While the passing offense is still not looking like it did prior to Dallas Goedert going down, the Eagles were so dominant on the ground that it didn’t matter. When they needed to pass the ball, for the most part, they were able to after a shaky start.

The one shaky moment of the fourth quarter was when the Eagles’ offense were held out of the end zone, and then the Packers — with Jordan Love —  proceeded to break free for a 63-yard touchdown on the next drive, putting them back to within 37-30. The Eagles, however, killed almost seven minutes off the clock on the following drive and extended their lead to 10, 40-30.

3rd Quarter: Eagles 34, Packers 23
Miles Sanders turned in one of this best games of the season and came up big on the Eagles’ first drive of the third quarter, pulling off consecutive runs of 21, 8, 28 and 8 to get the Eagles down to the Packers’ 29-yard line.  The play was capped off by a 6-yard touchdown pass from Hurts to Brown, giving the Eagles 386 yards of offense and 34 points in just 2.5 quarters.

One common theme throughout the game was the defensive line getting pressure on Rodgers. The Packers’ first-drive of the second half was ruined by a sack on a third-down play by Brandon Graham and Haason Reddick, giving four players on the defensive line at least 0.5 sacks. While there were certainly some shaky moments for the defense they tightened things up as the game went on, and for the most part, did a great job being put in short fields by the offense and special teams.

The third quarter felt like where the Eagles put the Packers away, with the defense holding up despite some short fields, and the offense extending the lead to double-digits.

2nd Quarter: Eagles 27, Packers 20

After a busy first quarter that ended with the Eagles trailing by one, the Eagles took the lead right back on the first play of the second quarter on a 2-yard Miles Sanders touchdown run. The drive gave them 155 yards rushing on their first three drives compared to just 33 passing yards.

Perhaps the most impressive play of the quarter came on the next drive, when safety Reed Blankenship — playing for an injured Chauncey Gardner-Johnson — perfectly jumped a pass from Aaron Rodgers, picking if off and killing a promising Packers drive.

The offense, however, gave the ball right back on the following drive when AJ Brown was stripped of the ball at the end of a catch. The turnover was the eighth by the Eagles’ offense in the last 2.5 quarters. The Packers once again made the Eagles pay, scoring 3 plays later — but missing the extra point — to tie the game, 20-20.

After struggling most of the first half the Eagle’ passing offense stepped up in a big way on the final drive of the half, as Hurts capped it off with a perfect 30-yard pass to Quez Watkins right at the goal line. Watkins did an excellent job going up for the ball and staying in bounds for the touchdown, capping off a very impressive play to end an otherwise shaky half for the passing offense.

Scoring 27-first half points was certainly impressive, and to a certain extent, it was. One issue with the first-half offense, however, was that it was basically just Hurts having to run the ball with an occasional nice pass sprinkled in. It felt like a better half for Hurt’ MVP odds than believing this offense had turned things around after a shaky few games.

1st Quarter: Packers 14, Eagles 13

The Eagles needed a quick start on Sunday night after two lackluster performances in a row.

The got it — for at least the opening six minutes.

After struggling for the majority of the game against the Colts the Eagles offense came out on Sunday night and went right down the field for a touchdown. The biggest play of the drive was a 3rd-and-10 play by Jalen Hurts where he broke free down the middle of the field for a 24-yard run and a fresh set of downs. It was a great example of Hurts making a special play that other quarterbacks can’t (something to remember when it is time for the Eagles to negotiate his contract. Of the 75-yards on the opening drive, 69 were rushing yards.

The defense followed up that opening possession by the offense by making a big play of their own. On 3rd down Javon Hargrave got through right through the line to get in Aaron Rodger’s face, eventually forcing a throw that was deflected by Darius Slay and picked off by Josiah Scott. The turnover gave the Eagles’ offense the ball on the Packers 29-yard line, and three plays later, the lead was 13-0.

After that, however, things fell apart.

First, the Packers went right down the field for a 59-yard touchdown drive that included Aaron Jones and AJ Dillion running all over the defense. Then, on the offense’s next possession, the Eagles failed twice to get one yard on 3rd/4th down, giving the Packers the ball on the Eagles’ 37-yard line. Five players later the Packers, after converting a key fourth down, took a 14-13 lead on a 11-yard touchdown from Rodgers to Randall Cobb.

You can follow Eliot Shorr-Parks on Twitter at @EliotShorrParks or email him at esp@94wip.com!

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