PHILADELPHIA – Rookie quarterback Jalen Hurts kicked off the Eagles that jerk coach Doug Pederson was looking for and used his arm and legs to lead Philadelphia to a 24:21 win over the New Orleans Saints, the their winning streak in nine games saw an end.
Hurts made his first start in place of the struggling Carson Wentz, going for 167 yards and a 17-on-30 touchdown, and running 18 times for 106 yards. The Saints had played 56 games without allowing a 100-yard rusher, the longest such series in the Super Bowl era.
Not only did the Eagles (4-8-1) do that, they also got two players past the century mark as Miles Sanders ran 14 times for 115 yards and two points, including an 82-yard TD sprint for the Eagles line up 17-0 in half. That was their first 17-point lead since week 1.
"He played great, man. The tape (speaks) for itself," Sanders said of Hurts. "He's so confident. He's a natural leader. We just needed that and he gave us that spark from last week (against the Green Bay Packers)."
Hurts and Sanders became the first Eagles quarterback / running back duo to complete more than 100 yards in one game since Donovan McNabb, 107, and Duce Staley, 126, against the New York Giants in 2002. Hurts' 106 rushing yards is the second most common by a player in his first career at QB since 1950, followed by Lamar Jackson's 119 yards in 2018 per Elias.
With the win, the Eagles snapped a run of four losses and stayed within striking distance of the leading Washington Football team.
"Sometimes you're looking for a way to speed things up and back things up a little," Pederson said. "Jalen kicked off this afternoon and I thought there were some good things overall and gave us a spark as a team I was looking for and I think we were looking as a team, but this win is it." This victory is about this team and how resilient this team is. "
Player and team sources told ESPN's Chris Mortensen that QB was Hurts' job for the remainder of the season, aside from injuries or catastrophic play. The Eagles also intend to keep Wentz and make him an important part of the team, sources said Adam Schefter. So while there are some issues with QB position in the long run, for now it's Hurts' show.
New Orleans made a comeback in the second half, but a Josh Sweat striped sack from Taysom Hill in fourth and second place with less than 10 minutes of play turned the tide. The Eagles followed up with a six-time, 53-yard scoring run topped off by Sanders' second rushing TD of the game, causing Hurts, the team's second pick in April, to break into a dance.
"It felt good," said Hurts of his debut as a starter. "It was definitely a new experience for me, my first NFL start out there. But I'm happy that I made it with this group of guys, with this team. We're ready to go back to work and fix it The things we need to fix. "
The win came at a cost as three-quarters of the secondary players – cornerbacks Darius Slay (head) and Avonte Maddox (knee) and safety Rodney McLeod (knee) – were eliminated due to injury and never returned. Defense attorneys Malik Jackson, Derek Barnett and Sweat were also injured. But the defense managed five sacks and 12 QB hits on Hill while the Saints were capped at 21 points, a season low for New Orleans.
Meanwhile, Hurts helped the Eagles offensive to their highest score since week 6.