PHILADELPHIA– Jalen Hurts rolled to his right, scampered down the sideline and stutter-stepped to the 5-yard-line, where he was wrapped up by a defender with another in pursuit. Hurts twisted his body, lowered his head, dragged two defenders with him and powered his way in for an adrenaline-filled 26-yard touchdown run that about broke the game open.
Just maybe, or so the Eagles can hope, there are many more plays like that one ahead.
Hurts had 301 total yards in the first half in the breakout 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.
“Big-time performance on a big-time stage,” Eagles coach Nick Sirianni said.
Trying to prove he can play like the best franchise QBs in the NFL, Hurts looked downright unstoppable from the opening drive.
Hurts hit five receivers on 5-for-5 passing – highlighted by a 19-yard strike to AJ Brown – and finished the drive himself with a 3-yard scoring run. In the opening win against Detroit, Hurts failed to complete a pass on five attempts and the Eagles turned the ball over on downs on the first drive of the game.
Turn the ball over on downs?
That seemed like just a rumor against the Vikings. The TD was just the liftoff for the 24-year-old Hurts throwing, running, imposing his will with all his available tools against a Vikings defense that could not solve him in his 21st career start. He finished with 333 yards passing and a touchdown, and 57 yards and two scores on the ground.
“Another outstanding performance. He threw some unbelievable balls. He made a lot of plays,” Eagles center Jason Kelce said. “This was a really great, well-rounded game for him.”
On the first play of the second quarter, Hurts connected with a wide-open Quez Watkins for a 53-yard TD and the 14-0 lead.
“It always comes with time and as time goes on, you find more comfort with what you’re doing,” Hurts said.
Darius Slay, who had two interceptions against a hapless Kirk Cousins, had called each of the Eagles’ trio of talented receivers 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 yards receiving).
Why are they all Batman?
“No Robins. We’ve got no sidekicks,” Slay said.
Hurts dazzled with the 26-yard TD with 1:58 left in the half and Jake Elliott still had time to kick a 38-yard and the Eagles took a 24-7 lead into halftime.
“I don’t think it matters how we score as long as we’re putting points on the board,” Hurts said.
In a Week 2 full of improbable comebacks, perhaps it wasn’t wise to count out the Vikings.
But Cousins and wide receiver Justin Jefferson – famously passed over by the Eagles in the 2020 draft – never got anything going of substance against the Eagles and maligned defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon. Slay had his second interception of the game in the fourth quarter as the scoreboard soon flashed “Big Play Slay.”
“It felt at times, included me, like we pressed a little bit,” Vikings coach Kevin O’Connell said.
Hurts had 50 yards rushing and 251 yards passing in the first half. Cousins finished the game 27 for 46 for 221 yards and three interceptions. His lone TD was on a 2-yard pass to Irv Smith in the second quarter. Jefferson had six catches for 48 yards a week after he had 184 receiving yards and two TDs in a win against Green Bay.
“I take no matchup lightly, but he is one of the best in the world. I am one of the best in the world, too. I was looking forward to the matchup,” Slay said of Jefferson.
Bryce Harper (wearing an Eagles hat), James Harden (who was handed the ball by Slay after his first interception) and Bradley Cooper (wearing an Allen Iverson T-shirt) were among the jam-packed and fight-song singing crowd at the Eagles’ home opener.
Harden was pumped with his souvenir, posting an Instagram photo of his left hand holding the ball with the caption “Gimme That!” The Philadelphia 76ers star snapped selfies with fans before he left late in the game.
Harden waited in the tunnel for Slay to autograph the football. 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 he kept the ball from the second pick.
Dick Vermeil received his Hall of Fame ring at halftime. In his third season in Philadelphia, the coaching great 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: Return home Sunday to play the Lions.
Eagles: Start a reunion tour Sunday when they head out to play the Washington Commanders and form QB Carson Wentz. The Eagles return home Sunday, Oct. 2 and play the Jacksonville Jaguars, led by coach Doug Pederson. Wentz and Pederson, of course, played pivotal roles in helping the Eagles win the Super Bowl after the 2017 season.
Copyright © 2022 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.