Jalen Hurts held a clipboard, wore headphones and paced the sideline with the same look of dismay on his face as angry Philadelphia fans in the stands as their stress mounted in yet another Eagles loss without the franchise quarterback. .
It hurts and the Eagles didn’t like what they saw, and now, fully healthy or not, the banged-up, spectacular QB might have to come to the rescue with everything he helped build on the brink of crumbling with a game left. In the season
«If Jalen can go,» Eagles coach Nick Sirianni said, «he’ll go.»
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That’s little reason to exhale after the Eagles lost their second straight game without Hurts, putting their hopes of clinching the NFC’s top seed in jeopardy. Marshon Lattimore returned an interception 11 yards for a late touchdown, and the New Orleans Saints beat Philadelphia 20-10 on Sunday.
The Eagles need to beat the New York Giants next week to clinch the top spot. A Philly loss and a Dallas win would give the Cowboys the NFC East title. Hurts is recovering from a sprained right shoulder.
«Her health is the number one priority,» Sirianni said.
The Giants can rest their starters after clinching a playoff spot with a 38-10 win over Indianapolis. The Eagles can’t rest easy at the thought of a third straight start from backup QB Gardner Minshew.
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«We have everything we ever wanted in front of us,» Minshew said.
And yes, that is true. But their chances of beating the Giants, or making it in the playoffs at all, are clouded without Hurts.
«I’m not someone who is going to push a panic button,» Sirianni said.
But in the case of Hurts, how about breaking glass in an emergency?
The Saints (7-9) won their third straight game and remain in contention for a playoff spot until the final weeks under first-year coach Dennis Allen. Taysom Hill had a 1-yard TD run in New Orleans’ amazing first half.
«We found a way to liquidate them in the last three weeks,» Allen said. «It’s been good to see that. That’s the kind of team I think we can be.»
Andy Dalton, who passed for 204 yards, completed his first 13 passes, including a 58-yard reception from Rashid Shaheed. That play set up one of Wil Lutz’s two field goals in the first half that gave the Saints a 13–0 lead.
Minshew had a pass intercepted by Lattimore, who had missed 10 straight games with an abdominal injury, late in the quarter. The backup quarterback finished 18 of 32 passing for 274 yards, a touchdown and an interception in his second straight start and showed no sign he could ably lead the Eagles into a postseason run should Hurts get hurt again. .
Minshew connected with AJ Brown for a 78-yard touchdown run late in the third that made it 13–10 and temporarily woke up the crowd, which had voraciously booed the Eagles most of the game, and an inept offense. But Minshew couldn’t convert on a fourth-down pitch late in the quarter that cost his team as much as his late pick.
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The Eagles were shutout in the first half for the first time this season.
«We just played terrible. That’s it,» wide receiver DeVonta Smith said.
The Eagles hadn’t allowed more than four sacks in a game this season but, playing without injured right tackle Lane Johnson, they allowed five in the first half. The Eagles didn’t convert a first down until there were 12 seconds left in the half.
Even the play call was questionable. Instead of trying to help his backup quarterback by leaning a little more on 1,000-yard running back Miles Sanders, the Eagles gave him just two carries in the half.
Hurts seemingly solidified his MVP credentials without taking a snap. He most likely won’t win the award now, but the Eagles are significantly worse off without the quarterback who tied a franchise record with 35 total touchdowns.
Eagles fans booed the team off the field, and suddenly a team that expected to play two home games in the postseason is trying to get there with its confidence intact.
Jake Elliott kicked a 56-yard field goal for the Eagles.
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«We never panicked or stressed or pushed,» Minshew said. «We just couldn’t make it happen.»
And the chances that they can make it happen, that Super Bowl run that was within their grasp just three weeks ago, may be non-existent without Hurts.