Jalen Hurts Rises to The Moment, Leads Eagles Past Giants into NFC Championship

Philadelphia Eagles

Getty Jalen Hurts #1 of the Philadelphia Eagles rushes for a touchdown against the New York Giants during the second quarter in the NFC Divisional Playoff game at Lincoln Financial Field on January 21, 2023 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)

 

PHILADELPHIA — Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts told FOX sideline reporter Pam Oliver his shoulder was “nowhere close” to 100 percent prior to Saturday night’s NFC Divisional playoff game against the New York Giants, and if that was true, that’s bad news for the rest of the NFL.

Hurts was nothing short of special, in the biggest game of his young NFL career.

“Jalen looked like he knocked off whatever rust he had in Week 18,” an AFC Scout told Heavy. “Plus, the Giants provided zero resistance. It basically looked like Jalen was out there throwing 7-on-7.”

With a trip to the NFC Championship Game at stake, Hurts was as dominant as he has been all season, rising to the moment, leading the Eagles to a 38-7 victory and now two wins shy of the franchise’s second Lombardi Trophy.

Here are key takeaways from the Eagles’ victory over the Giants in the NFC Divisional Playoffs

Eagles’ offense remains poetry in motion

Following two weeks of hand-wringing around the City of Brotherly Love over the health of Hurts’ shoulder, or the effectiveness of an offense that scored more than 25 points just twice since Week 15, the Eagles’ opening possession was a reminder of what made this one of the NFL’s most prolific offenses all season.

Hurts’ first attempt was a 40-yard bomb down the seam to DeVonta Smith, erasing any doubt about any lingering effects of his injury. The Eagles’ quarterback finished the drive 5-for-5 passing for 68 yards, capped by a 16-yard catch and run by tight end Dallas Goedert, who made a ridiculously athletic one-handed catch before turning upfield to score.

Only the Kansas City Chiefs and Buffalo Bills averaged more than the Eagles’ 28.1 points per game, and Saturday night Philly hit that number by halftime.

Perhaps most impressive, and for the Eagles most encouraging, is the fact that Hurts didn’t just look healthy but he looked effective as ever, especially in the red-zone. That’s where Hurts been so prolific all season. The Eagles converted all 4 trips inside the 20-yard line into touchdowns, including Hurts’ 12th red-zone rushing score of the season.

By game’s end, Hurts completed 16-of-24 passes for 154 yards with 2 touchdowns, while adding 34 rushing yards and another score.

The Eagles’ offense will face a far stingier test in the championship game than the Giants provided, but if Saturday is any indication, Philadelphia has all the pieces to finish this run.

Haason Reddick Continues to Disrupt

Haason Reddick wouldn’t be denied.

Sent on a bit of a delayed rush, off a stunt, Reddick shot through the gap and sacked Daniel Jones on 4th down and 8 with 5:46 remaining in the first quarter, stalling out a promising opening possession and handing the ball back to Hurts and the Eagles’ defense.

Reddick, who grew up just across the river in Camden, has been one of Philadelphia’s most disruptive defenders, producing a career-high 16.0 sacks this season while adding 68 total pressures.

“He’s a situational pass-rusher,” an NFC personnel executive told Heavy. “And a damn good one at that, a damn good player.”

Saturday night, Reddick finished with 2.0 sacks, both in the first half, and a team-high 5 total tackles.

Reddick is a vital piece along the Eagles’ front seven, and arguably the most impressive offseason addition made by general manager Howie Roseman during one of the more transformative NFL offseasons we have seen in recent memory.

A Giant nightmare

If toppling the Minnesota Vikings was a sign of progress, or at least that the foundation for the franchise has been set in head coach Brian Daboll’s first season, Saturday night was a reminder of just how much ground the Giants still have to make up to contend with the NFL’s elite.

New York was overmatched in all phases by the Eagles, and the Giants now enter an offseason with major decisions to make that will drastically impact the organization’s trajectory.

Both star running back Saquon Barkley and quarterback Daniel Jones’ futures hang in the balance.

Jones cutting down on mistakes — tossing a career-low 5 interceptions, down from his average 8.5 per season was a significant step forward. More importantly, Jones was a catalyst in the Giants’ Wild Card victory.

But, Jones looked overwhelmed throughout what turned into a house of horrors in South Philadelphia for the Giants.

Jones completed just 14-of-24 passes for 130 with 1 interception. Jones’ performance raises significant concern capping a season that inspired so much confidence.

Schoen, Daboll, and the Giants declined Jones’ fifth-year option prior to the NFL Draft, and after Saturday night should at least consider exercising the flexibility that decision created to possibly upgrade the quarterback position.

Likewise, one week after Saquon Barkley made a significant impact by producing 109 yards from scrimmage with two rushing scores, albeit with a limited workload of just 14 touches, he was a nonfactor against the Eagles.

Daboll and general manager Joe Schoen have a vision, and the resources that come with $52.5 million in cap space, to build a bright future in East Rutherford.

However, if all Jones has to offer against the kind of defense that is going to stand in the Giants’ way of a Super Bowl berth for the next half decade is a 130-showing, how significant can the commitment be to Jones as the future?

Given the track record of running backs declining on their second contract, as instrumental as Barkley was to the Giants’ first playoff win since 2011, if he can only muster 61 yards with a trip to the conference championship game on the line, is it fair to wonder if the Giants should make him one of the highest paid players at his position?

These are just two of the biggest concerns the Giants face following a giant playoff disappointment.

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