PHILADELPHIA — Donovan McNabb was all smiles in the Philadelphia Eagles’ locker room as he hit up Jalen Hurts for a big bro hug and a few encouraging words.
McNabb did it under coach Andy Reid in 2004 and the Eagles went all the way to the Super Bowl. Hurts and coach Nick Sirianni are 5-0 after Sunday’s 20-17 win over the Arizona Cardinals. The future is wide open with how far the Eagles can go this season, but standing tall as the only unbeaten team in the NFL sure makes it seem like the future is bright.
The Eagles, who also started 5-0 in 1981, played their worst game of the season but still did enough behind Hurts and a new kicker - and a defense that gave up 357 yards and barely hung on - to win on the road.
Undefeated, yes. Perfect? Hardly.
“I personally hate hearing 5-0. I don’t like to hear it,” Hurts said. “Because nobody wanted to mention the record when we were 2-5 (last season). Nobody wanted to talk about that. So, I don’t want to hear it now. I don’t want to hear it now. Can we come in here and control the things we can, attack every day and just grow and climb. That’s what matters. The process. Not anything else.”
Hurts had two rushing touchdowns but had an otherwise ordinary 239 yards passing and no touchdowns. But he is finding tight end Dallas Goedert, who had eight catches for 95 yards, including a crucial 16-yard gain on the final drive that set up the game-winning field goal.
“Dallas is a monster with the ball in his hands. He is a beast with the ball in his hands,” Sirianni said. “He went out and just finished that drive. It was a great play by those two guys.”
WHAT NEEDS HELP
The Eagles will of course take any victory. But the win in Arizona was easily their worst all-around performance of the season. The play-calling was puzzling on both sides: the Eagles used a prevent defense in the second half and gave up a first down on third-and-17 in the third quarter; the Eagles rolled out Hurts and he threw into traffic trying to hit Quez Watkins on third-and-goal from the 5 with 1:52 left. The pass fell incomplete and the Eagles were bailed out by their new kicker.
Dicker the Kicker! Already owner of one of the best nicknames in sports, Cameron Dicker gave his resume a boost when he kicked a 23-yard field goal with 1:42 remaining for the win. Dicker, who was undrafted out of Texas, was signed last week after Jake Elliott suffered an ankle injury a week earlier in a win against Jacksonville.
Any nerves walking into the biggest kick of his one-game NFL career?
“None. I was ready to go,” Dicker said. “I was excited. The first kick was awesome. It’s a kickoff so you get to go out there and just hit a ball and it went well. I think I’ve played in bigger games in my life. I’ve been playing at Texas and it prepared me for this opportunity, so it’s cool.”
Dicker also kicked a 42-yard field goal.
Where did you go, A.J. Brown? The standout receiver was limited to only three catches for 32 yards. Brown, acquired in a draft-night trade, had 155 yards receiving in the opener and had five catches each of the next three games. Brown was only targeted seven times against the Cardinals. He was targeted once in the second half.
Center Jason Kelce rolled an ankle in the second half and needed X-rays at halftime before he decided he could go back and play. Of course he played. Kelce has started 127 games and his toughness has made him the heart of the Eagles.
“We all know he’s a soldier and that’s something we can’t take for granted,” Hurts said. “It’s something I damn sure don’t take for granted. I admire his leadership. I admire the way he plays the game, his toughness. He’s relentless. He’s everything I admire in a competitor.”
Eagles fans took over Glendale, Arizona, on Sunday and it sure sounded like a home game at the Linc. Some diehards brought a banner that read “5-0 We Want Dallas.” Well, here come the Cowboys (4-1) for a Sunday night showdown that may be the most enticing game of the weekend. Cooper Rush remained unbeaten as the Cowboys’ fill-in starter despite passing for just 102 yards in a 22-10 victory over the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday.
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