Jalen Hurts, Philadelphia Eagles' offense struggle in loss against 49ers
PHILADELPHIA – Jalen Hurts dropped back in his own end zone, hit Quez Watkins in stride down the sideline and the first full house in Philadelphia in two years became unglued on the 91-yard pass play.
Dazzling in the season opener, Hurts again had the Eagles on the precipice of a touchdown.
Five plays later – including a bit of attempted trickery on wideout Greg Ward’s pass attempt to Hurts – the Eagles finished with an empty possession. The fifth-longest pass play in franchise history, and the second-longest without a TD, ended without a score and would haunt the Eagles.
Hurts underthrew his receivers and underperformed in the second half, and injuries to Brandon Brooks and Brandon Graham hit the Eagles hard in the San Francisco 49ers’ 17-11 victory on Sunday.
“Lot of things out there were in our control,” Hurts said. “That’s what hurts the most.”
Hurts and the Eagles falling short from the 3 after the 91-yard gain cost them the most against San Francisco.
Philadelphia can only hope losing Graham and Brooks won’t cost them more in the long term.
The 33-year-old Graham, coming off an eight-sack Pro Bowl season, anchors the Eagles on defense and in the locker room. Graham had trouble putting weight on his left leg and needed a cart back to the locker room.
“He’s really the heartbeat of the this team,” offensive tackle Lane Johnson said.
Without specifying the injury, Graham wrote on social media he would miss the rest of the season.
“We still about to shock the world! I will just be leading from the sidelines this year working to be great for 2022,” he wrote. “Appreciate all the love and now it is time for guys to step it up. U have to find the treasure in every situation!”
Graham pressured Jimmy Garoppolo in second quarter and came up limping on the pass rush. Graham clapped with Eagles fans as he took the cart ride back to the locker room – his last time this season on the field in uniform.
“BG’s been my lockermate since I got here,” defensive tackle Fletcher Cox said. “Now we still get to laugh and talk about things. It just won’t be on the field on Sundays. It will be in the locker room.”
The Eagles failed to sack Garoppolo and let him throw 30 times without much pressure. The Eagles (1-1) do not have a takeaway in two games.
Brooks hurt his chest at the end of the first quarter. Landon Dickerson replaced Brooks at right guard, and the Eagles rotated players in Graham’s absence.
The 91-yard-no-TD series absolutely crushed the Eagles.
Leading 3-0, the Eagles had a first down at the 1 following a pass interference penalty on Josh Norman. On fourth down from the 3, Ward – a former college QB – took a flip on a reverse and threw an incomplete pass to Hurts in the back of the end zone.
Coach Nick Sirianni said the play “looked good in practice this week,” but San Francisco’s coverage confused the Eagles.
“It was my fault, I didn’t call good enough plays right there,” Sirianni said. “I give them credit for some of the false things they were showing us. They did a good of disguising it.”
Consider, at that point in the game, the Eagles had 204 yards and the 49ers had 65.
Hurts ran for 82 yards and a touchdown. He just couldn’t score from the 3.
“I’m a playmaker on the field, I want to make the plays,” Hurts said. “It’s a play we didn’t make. We didn’t hit.”
Other than the 91-yard play, Hurts only had 99 yards passing and was short on at least four deep throws. He also had a 26-yard pass to Watkins, giving the wide receiver two catches for 117 yards.
The Eagles thought they had a touchdown in the first quarter on a Hurts pass to Jalen Reagor but it was overturned on replay when it showed the 2020 first-round pick stepped out of bounds before he ran back into the end zone.
“If it’s a touchdown, it’s probably a whole different outcome of the game,” Hurts said.
That led to a bigger disaster on the drive when Jake Elliott had a 47-yard field-goal attempt blocked by Javon Kinlaw.
One other blow came early in the fourth when Hurts was short on a pass to an open Reagor and defensive back Jimmie Ward broke up the play. Hurts, who threw three touchdown passes during a Week 1 victory at Atlanta, only had 39 yards passing in the second half.
Up next for Hurts, his first shot at NFC East rival Dallas.