Hurts suffered a shoulder sprain during Week 15 which caused him to miss two games late in the regular season. He returned for Week 18 to help his team clinch the No. 1 overall seed, but was clearly still not at 100 percent in the game, leading to worries about Hurts’ readiness for the postseason. Luckily for him, with the top spot in the NFC came the chance to get some more rest before officially starting the playoffs, with Hurts saying at the time, “It’s a good thing there’s a bye week.”
And that extra time to heal paid off, as Hurts dominated the division rivals starting early in Saturday’s game. The star QB opened things up by going 7-of-7 passing for 89 yards in the first quarter, including two TD passes that gave Philadelphia the early lead. The Eagles offense never let up, finishing with 416 total yards and 38 points, their most since Week 14 against the Giants. Hurts accounted for three scores, and was 16-of-24 passing for 154 yards and a 112.2 passer rating, back to his previous MVP-candidate form.
“Seemed like the old Jalen to me,” running back Miles Sanders said after the game. “I’m not going to lie. Just proud of him. He asks everybody for their best, and we’re going to do that just for him because he gives us our best.”
In his postgame press conference, head coach Nick Sirianni expressed that, in addition to Hurts’ impact through his physical talents, he also provides an emotional spark for the team when playing. Sirianni used comparisons to basketball players to make his point, first likening his QB to classic 76ers Allen Iverson and Mo Cheeks, before going even further a few questions later and equating Hurts’ impact to that of one of the greats of the sport.
“To have him out there is like — I know this is high praise, but to have him out there is like having, I shouldn’t even go there, it’s like having Michael Jordan out there,” Sirianni said. “He’s your leader. He’s your guy. Hopefully that’s the biggest respect I can pay to him comparing his ability to being on the field to a Michael Jordan type. This guy leads. He brings this calmness to the entire team. He plays great football. He’s as tough as they come.
“Yeah, I mean, to me, nobody has played any better football than him this year. “
When healthy, the 24-year-old has been one of the most dangerous quarterbacks in the league due to the combination of his stellar arm and the constant threat that he’ll just run the ball himself. Along with ranking in the top 10 in most passing categories, Hurts ranked fourth among QBs in regular-season rushing yards with 760.
“Jalen is always going to help the running game big time because of what he can do and the threat he poses on the backside. Even if he is not carrying it or even if he is not having runs to him, he is still going to affect the game,” Sirianni said. “That’s what he did. He affected the game because he demands attention on the backside.”
Sunday’s slate of games will tell us who the Eagles will face next week, but whether it’s the Cowboys or the 49ers, they’ll come to Philadelphia knowing they’ll be facing a once-again healthy and dangerous opponent in Hurts.