PHILADELPHIA — From the early days with Taysom Hill and Sam Darnold, Kirk Cousins and Matt Ryan, the quality of quarterback Jalen Hurts has beaten has taken a quantum leap this season.
Including Sunday, when Hurts’ 12-yard walk-off touchdown in overtime lifted the Eagles to a 37-34 victory over the Buffalo Bills, add Josh Allen to a list which over the previous six weeks included Matt Stafford, Tua Tagovailoa, Dak Prescott and Patrick Mahomes.
Hurts has rallied the Eagles to victories the last eight games in which the Birds had trailed by double-digit margins. And make no mistake, no quarterback in that exclusive list makes bigger plays than Allen, who Sunday threw for 339 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for a game-high 81 yards and two scores. And lost.
“They always talk about Tom Brady with the drives at the end,” Eagles veteran defensive end Brandon Graham said. “I’m hoping Jalen starts getting that name. I’m happy that he went out there and just finished the deal with a game-winning drive. Keep them coming because we’re going to need that. We love putting it in his hands at the end to give us a chance. That’s one of many that he’s going to have.”
The Eagles were going nowhere in the first half and trailed 17-7 at the intermission. They were on their way to being outgained for the fourth straight game yet unbeaten in that same skein.
Hurts threw an interception and lost a fumble. During an ugly three-and-out in the first half the fans booed him vociferously.
But in the second half Hurts got the Eagles to within 17-14 on a three-yard play action scoring pass to A.J. Brown with 7:13 left in the third quarter. It was DeVonta Smith who was open most of the game, and Hurts, who threw for 200 yards, connected with him for a score after Allen finished a march with a 16-yard touchdown run giving the Bills a 24-14 lead with 1:48 left in the third quarter.
Smith’s score got Eagles fans back into it soon after the Lincoln Financial Field sound system screamed Credence Clearwater Revival’s question, “Have You Ever Seen The Rain?” The crowd that endured the wet stuff all the way to the end stood and danced into the night.
The Eagles’ defense stood tall in the fourth quarter when Allen tried to squeeze the ball into Stefon Diggs. James Bradberry intercepted and the Eagles had first down at the 24 of the Bills with 12:46 to go.
Moments later, the Birds facing an impossible third-and-15 at the 29-yard line of the Bills, Hurts circled to his left, waved Olamide Zaccheaus to go deeper in the end zone and floated a 29-yard touchdown pass for the lead. The ball dropped out of the rain like a punt, Zaccheaus catching it falling backward.
Then Graham, playing in his club record 189th game, sacked Allen on third and 13 for another huge stop.
Allen wasn’t done. He marched the Bills 74 yards in 10 plays, several on the ground and on third and goal connected with Gabe Davis for a seven-yard TD and a 31-28 lead with 1:52 left. The Eagles reached the 36-yard line of the Bills before two false start penalties on Jason Kelce and an incomplete pass left Jake Elliott attempting a 59-yard field goal for the tie.
“It was beyond what our range was that we talked about,” Elliott said. “But I’ll take it.”
Elliott made the kick with room to spare, knotting the game with 20 seconds left and sending it to overtime. The kick started left and drifted right.
The Bills and Allen won the coin flip in overtime and marched to the 22-yard line of the Eagles, where they faced fourth-and-six. Bills head coach Sean McDermott, whose offense was 13-for-22 on third down and 1-for-1 on fourth down got conservative, sending kicker Sam Martin out to kick a 40-yard field goal. A touchdown would have won it.
Before we get to the exclamation point, let’s just say the Bills went out of their way to keep the Eagles in the game.
Martin missed two field goal attempts, the first so low that Jalen Carter got a piece of it. In just the first half the Bills committed 10 penalties, seven on the offensive side including intentional grounding on Allen. The Bills were playing uphill through their own fault much of the first 30 minutes.
Maybe they didn’t study enough tape of Hurts. Maybe they thought Allen would save them. Maybe they just don’t understand how productive the Eagles are in close games. Obviously, they do now.
On first-and-10 at the 12-yard line of Buffalo, Hurts and the Eagles caught the Bills in a blitz, and ran through the massive hole created by center Jason Kelce and tackle Jordan Mailaita to end the game at 8:05 p.m. It was Hurts’ second rushing score of the night.
Bills pass rusher Leonard Floyd smiled when asked what it was like trying to contain Hurts.
“It’s kind of hard because you don’t want to shoot your gun as pass rushers and take off the other way,” Floyd said. “You want to try to keep him in the pocket. Make him play quarterback. Make him throw from the pocket. And you need to do it for four quarters.”
Bradberry laughed when asked about the Eagles winning ugly. Like Hurts, the Eagles, now 10-1 on the verge of playing the San Francisco 49ers, don’t care how they do it, just that they do it.
“I know a lot of people complain about how we win or how we make plays, but at the end of the day we’re making them,” Bradberry said. “And that’s all that matters.”
Source: Berkshire mont