PHILADELPHIA CREAM — Jalen Hurts rolled to his right, scampered down the touchline and stuttered to the 5-yard line, where he was wrapped up by a defender with another in pursuit. Hurts twisted his body, ducked his head, dragged two defenders with him and blasted his way in for an adrenaline-filled 26-yard touchdown run that nearly opened the game.
Maybe, at least the Eagles can hope, there are many more games like this to come.
Hurts totaled 301 total yards in the first half in the defining game of his young career, finishing with three total touchdowns as he led Philadelphia to a 24-7 win over the Minnesota Vikings on Monday night.
“A great performance on a great stage,” Eagles coach Nick Sirianni said.
Trying to prove he can play like the best franchise QBs in the NFL, Hurts looked downright unstoppable on first practice.
Hurts hit five receivers on a 5-for-5 pass – highlighted by a 19-yard strike to AJ Brown – and finished the drive himself with a 3-yard run. In the first win over Detroit, Hurts failed to complete a pass on five attempts and the Eagles turned the ball over on tries in the game’s first practice.
Overturn the ball in the downs?
It looked like a simple rumor against the Vikings. The TD was just the take-off for the 24-year-old Hurts, who throws, runs, imposes his will with all his available tools against a Vikings defense that couldn’t resolve it in his 21st career start. He finished with 333 passing yards and a touchdown, and 57 yards and two rushing scores.
“Another outstanding performance. He threw amazing balls. He made a lot of plays,” Eagles center Jason Kelce said. “It was a very good, well-balanced match for him.”
On the first play of the second quarter, Hurts connected with a wide-open Quez Watkins for a 53-yard touchdown and a 14-0 lead.
“It always comes with time and as time goes on you feel more comfortable with what you’re doing,” Hurts said.
Darius Slay, who had two interceptions against an unfortunate Kirk Cousins, had called each of the Eagles’ talented receiving trio Batman.
There was, Brown, the “swole” Batman who had five catches for 69 yards; DeVonta Smith was the “skinny” Batman who had seven for 80 yards; and Watkins was the “fast” Batman who had the burners on for the easy score (and 69 total receiving yards).
Why are they all Batman?
“No Robins. We don’t have sidekicks,” Slay said.
Hurts dazzled with the 26-yard TD with 1:58 left in the half and Jake Elliott still had time to hit a 38-yarder and the Eagles took a 24-7 halftime lead.
“I don’t think it matters how we score as long as we put points on the board,” Hurts said.
In a Week 2 full of unlikely comebacks, it might not have been wise to count out the Vikings.
But Cousins and wide receiver Justin Jefferson — notoriously ignored by the Eagles in the 2020 draft — never did anything of substance against the Eagles and decried defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon. Slay had his second interception of the game in the fourth quarter as the scoreboard quickly displayed “Big Play Slay.”
“I felt at times, myself included, that we were a bit rushed,” Vikings coach Kevin O’Connell said.
Hurts had 50 rushing yards and 251 passing yards in the first half. Cousins finished the game 27 for 46 for 221 yards and three interceptions. His only TD was on a 2-yard pass to Irv Smith in the second quarter. Jefferson had six catches for 48 yards a week after having 184 receiving yards and two touchdowns in a win over Green Bay.
“I don’t take any game lightly, but he’s one of the best in the world. I’m also one of the best in the world. I was looking forward to the game,” Slay said of Jefferson.
Bryce Harper (wearing an Eagles hat), James Harden (whom Slay handed the ball to after his first interception) and Bradley Cooper (wearing an Allen Iverson t-shirt) were among the packed crowd singing fight songs at the The Eagles’ first home game.
Harden was pumped with his memory, posting an Instagram photo of his left hand holding the ball with the caption “Gimme That!” The Philadelphia 76ers star took selfies with fans before leaving late in the game.
Harden waited in the tunnel for Slay to autograph the soccer ball. Harden good-naturedly told Slay he should have had even more interceptions.
“He was shocked that I gave it to him,” said Slay, who noted that he kept the ball from the second choice.
Dick Vermeil received his Hall of Fame ring at halftime. In his third season in Philadelphia, the great coach led the Eagles to their first playoff appearance in 18 years. He guided the Eagles to their first Super Bowl appearance in the 1980 season only to lose to the Oakland Raiders, 27-10.
Vikings safety Harrison Smith was evaluated for a concussion.
Vikings: Go home on Sunday to face the Lions.
Eagles: Begin a reunion tour on Sunday when they travel to face the Washington Commanders and former QB Carson Wentz. The Eagles return home on Sunday, October 2 and face the Jacksonville Jaguars, led by coach Doug Pederson. Wentz and Pederson, of course, were pivotal in helping the Eagles win the Super Bowl after the 2017 season.
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