After scrambling through their final three regular-season games, the Philadelphia Eagles opened the NFL playoffs on Saturday night by defeating the New York Giants 38-7.
The Eagles went into 2022 winning 13 of their first 14 regular-season games. But after quarterback Jalen Hurts sprained his throwing shoulder on December 18, Philadelphia lost two games with Gardner Minshew at quarterback and trailed the Giants 22–16 in the regular season. The season ended with a limited Hurts return to centre.
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That win clinched the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs, and along with a first-round bye, gave Hurts an extra week to recover from a shoulder injury.
“To have him out is like – I know it’s high praise – but to have him out is like – I shouldn’t even go there – but it’s like having Michael Jordan out,” the Philadelphia coach Nick Siriani said, “He’s your leader. He’s your guy. Hopefully, that’s the biggest honor I can give him, comparing it to his ability to be a Michael Jordan-type on the field.
“This guy leads. He brings this calmness to the whole team. He plays great football. He’s as tough as they come. For me, no one has played better football than him this year.”
With Hurts two more weeks away from a shoulder injury, the Eagles had a fuller playbook than they did in the regular season finale, when run calls for a quarterback with 760 rushing yards in 2022 were on the shelf.
“We wanted to run the best things that were best for us, knowing that Jalen knew no bounds,” syrian said, “So if he was driving it, he was driving it. We don’t think, ‘Hey, we’re going to show you guys.’ He was ready to go, and we did what we thought was best for us.
Hurts threw a 40-yard pass to wide receiver Devonta Smith on the game’s second snap and scored two runs before capping off Philadelphia’s first possession with a 16-yard touchdown pass to tight end Dallas Goedert.
Hurts completed 16 of 24 passes for 154 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions on Saturday night. He ran for 34 yards on nine carries and scored on a 5-yard run as Philadelphia took a 28–0 lead with 43 seconds left in the first half.
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The Eagles rolled up 268 yards and three touchdowns on the ground.
“We all know that adds an extra dynamism to what we can do,” Hearts said How about Philadelphia’s flamboyant attack about putting a quarterback run threat.
In addition to his TD run, Hurts converted two third-down snaps with his feet into first downs.
Hurts said he didn’t hesitate to take a hit on his shoulder on Saturday night, so he didn’t have to pick up the football once or twice to feel comfortable playing without boundaries.
“Mentally, regardless of how I felt physically, I was already there, so I didn’t need to do anything to get there,” Hearts said,
Hurts became the first Alabama quarterback to start for a winning team in an NFL playoff game since January 15, 1983, when Richard Todd led the Miami Dolphins to a 17–14 victory over the Los Angeles Raiders in an AFC second round contest . ,
The Eagles will play for a spot in Super Bowl LVII in the NFC Championship Game on January 29 at 2 p.m. CST at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia. The Eagles’ opponent will be the winner of Sunday’s game between the Dallas Cowboys and the San Francisco 49ers.
“I think we have the eagerness to accomplish what we want to achieve, and it’s a day-by-day thing,” Hearts said, “Every team gets into this thing trying to accomplish the same thing. As you climb that mountain, it gets tougher. It gets more treacherous as you get to the top. But We take it day by day. We take it one step at a time, one play at a time, trust the process of getting better each day and let it take care of itself. I love the fact that I believe this is the mindset of this team.
“I love the fact that we’re starving. That we’re not just hungry for it, but hungry for it. We’re hungry for growth, we’re eager to grow and get better and learn from our mistakes.” Learning. I think that’s the beautiful thing about it, and we want to keep it going. And I think that was a little bit of motivation as a team. We wanted to come out here and play our best ball. And I guess sometimes you have to be careful what you wish for.
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Mark Inabinet is a sports reporter for Alabama Media Group. follow him on twitter @AMarkG1,