Tempers were flaring late in the third quarter following a late hit to the head area of Jalen Hurts. Flags came flying in and penalties were assessed, including Tracy Walker III being ejected. The Eagles answered with a touchdown to push their lead to 38-21.
Philadelphia would hold on for a 38-35 road victory over the Detroit Lions in Week 1. It wasn’t easy. It never is. The play in question occurred when Hurts was sliding to the ground. Walker aimed at his neck and shoulder area, narrowly grazing the quarterback’s noggin.
Zach Pascal, Dallas Goedert, and Lane Johnson immediately rushed to Hurts’ defense, shoving Walker and slapping at his chest. Walker retaliated by winding up and throwing a punch at Pascal with Boston Scott stoking the flames. The refs quickly broke the skirmish up and threw Walker out of the game.
Protecting Hurts is nothing new for his teammates who proved their allegiance in the preseason. On that cheap shot, members of the offensive line – Cam Jurgens, Jordan Mailata, Lane Johnson, Isaac Seumalo – were the lead enforcers. They wanted to send a clear message that messing with No. 1 off limits. They restrained themselves for fear of suspension.
“We ran over there and didn’t do nothing,” Johnson said, via NBC Sports Philadelphia. “We were like a big dog that ran to the fence and didn’t do a whole lot. If you do something, then you get suspended. We didn’t like it.”
Derek Barnett Leaves Lions-Eagles Game
Defensive end Derek Barnett went down grabbing at his left knee early in the third quarter. He walked off the field and headed for the blue medical tent. Later, the Eagles ruled him “questionable to return” with a knee injury.
Defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon cycled through a bevy of bodies to replace Barnett, including Fletcher Cox who saw snaps at defensive end. Gannon had promised that Cox would be a “huge part” of the gameplan earlier in the week.
“The only thing I know about Fletch is he comes in here and works and he’s the standard of effort and how to practice and play. That’s why he’s one of our captains,” Gannon told reporters on September 6. “I love where Fletch’s game is at right now, and he’s going to be a huge part of this defense.”
Eagles Ride Red-Zone Rushing Attack, A.J. Brown
The Eagles’ offense was clicking on all cylinders on Sunday after a shaky first quarter. The team rode an unstoppable rushing attack in the red zone. Jalen Hurts, Kenny Gainwell, Boston Scott, and Miles Sanders pounded their way to paydirt. The Eagles racked up 175 yards on the ground through three-and-half quarters.
Meanwhile, A.J. Brown imposed his will on Detroit and proved he was worth every penny of that $100 million contract. Hurts’ best friend had 128 receiving yards before halftime, the third-most for an Eagles player in a first half since 1991. Brown was brilliant, especially over the middle where he dragged Lions defenders on his back and used his physicality to chalk up tough yards after the catch.
Head coach Nick Sirianni talked about Brown’s ability to seamlessly fit into the Eagles’ culture during training camp. He stepped right in and became one of the team leaders.
“He’s awesome. He fits in great,” Sirianni said on August 25. “Obviously, a guy comes in, and the amount of plays he’s made in this league, has automatic respect of everybody.”