Eagles stay undefeated as Jalen Hurts and the defense bested Trevor Lawrence

EJ Smith
The Philadelphia Inquirer (TNS)

PHILADELPHIA — Even on a wet, blustery day, the Eagles found a way to stay hot.

The team overcame a sluggish start to maintain its undefeated record, beating the Jacksonville Jaguars, 29-21, on a rain-soaked Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field.

The Eagles (4-0) preserved their status as the lone undefeated team in the NFL against a Jaguars team led by former Eagles coach Doug Pederson. The Jaguars that came into the weekend with two straight impressive wins but were held in check for most of Sunday.

The weather conditions affected both sides, but the Eagles offense was dominant on the ground. The defense forced five turnovers and made second-year Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence look uncomfortable.

Here are the instant takeaways from the game:

Philadelphia Eagles' Haason Reddick reacts during the first half of an NFL football game against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday, Oct. 2, 2022, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Hurts’ responding run

After a slow start in suboptimal conditions, Jalen Hurts helped turn the tide.

The Eagles quarterback had a few chunk completions to A.J. Brown and Dallas Goedert to set the team up in the red zone, but faced a fourth-and-goal from the 3-yard line. Hurts dropped back to pass, and after scanning the defense, broke for the goal line.

Hurts scored on the play, but he paid the price, taking a hard shot to the helmet from Jaguars rookie linebacker Devin Lloyd as he surged for the end zone. His efforts on the do-or-die play were pivotal, getting the Eagles on the board and sparking a 20-0 scoring run in the second quarter.

Hurts was 4 for 5 on the drive for 47 yards and added 16 rushing yards on the seven-play, 57-yard drive that featured a costly offensive pass interference that nullified a Brown touchdown.

Both the conditions and the opponent were reminiscent of the Eagles’ playoff loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last season. In inclement weather against Jaguars defensive coordinator Mike Caldwell, a former Bucs assistant, Hurts made the necessary plays this time around. It wasn’t his flashiest performance — the run game and multiple screens carried the offense for a large stretch of the game — but Hurts was instrumental in turning the game around.

Haason has a day

If it wasn’t Hurts’ big run that sparked a turning point in the game, it was Lawrence’s ball security.

The second-year quarterback had a costly unforced fumble on a fourth down while trying to flush from the pocket in the second quarter. Lawrence wasn’t hit, but dropped the ball as he rolled out and failed to recover the fumble before Fletcher Cox swarmed him. The turnover facilitated the Eagles’ first scoring drive and foreshadowed what was to come.

Lawrence and Co. struggled to complete consecutive screen passes on their following drive thanks to a combination of poorly placed passes and shoddy catching efforts. On third-and-10, Pederson called a draw play that went for no gain.

On the Jaguars’ next drive, Lawrence fumbled a snap on a quarterback sneak and Haason Reddick recovered to set up the Eagles’ third scoring drive.

Reddick dominated in the second half, forcing two Lawrence fumbles. His efforts, along with a red-zone interception from James Bradberry ballooned Lawrence’s turnover total to five.

Lawrence, the 2021 No. 1 overall pick, entered the weekend playing at a high level, but came up well short against the Eagles for his worst game of the season.

Philadelphia Eagles' Miles Sanders runs with the ball past Jacksonville Jaguars' Travon Walker during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Oct. 2, 2022, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Running for Miles

Hurts was the catalyst for the Eagles’ first scoring drive, but the run game picked up from there.

The team’s next scoring drive featured six runs and one screen pass out of eight plays and gave way to a dominant showing from the Eagles’ rushing attack. Even with an early injury to Jordan Mailata and with Isaac Seumalo leaving in the fourth quarter, the Eagles’ offensive front settled in and got plenty of movement up front for Miles Sanders and the rest of the running backs.

Sanders broke the 100-yard mark on the ground for the sixth time in his career and scored two touchdowns. Hurts added 41 rushing yards and a touchdown.

Second-quarter success

The Eagles were once again sparked by a dominant second-quarter showing.

After spotting Jacksonville a 14-point lead in the opening frame, the Eagles reeled off 20 unanswered points before halftime and had 29 unanswered points by the time the Jaguars got back on the board.

The Eagles led the league in second-quarter scoring going into the game with 79 points and have been successful scoring on drives just before halftime in each of the first three games. On Sunday, the team cashed in just before the half to take its first lead thanks to a 10-yard run by Kenneth Gainwell.

Missing Mailata, Slay

Both Mailata and Darius Slay left early with injuries and did not return.

Mailata hurt his shoulder on the Eagles’ first series and gave way to Jack Driscoll at left tackle for the rest of the game. The 6-foot-8, 366-pound tackle tested his shoulder out on the sideline during the second half but didn’t return.

Slay left with a forearm injury before the Jaguars’ second drive. The Eagles were already missing starting slot cornerback Avonte Maddox, who was ruled out on Friday with an ankle injury. Slay was replaced by Zech McPhearson.

Seumalo left the game early, going down an apparent leg injury. The right guard was replaced by Sua Opeta.