Behind Jalen Hurts, Eagles pull off upset of Saints and still aren't out of the NFC East race

It’s not really what Jalen Hurts did in his first start for the Philadelphia Eagles. It’s what he didn’t do.

Hurts didn’t throw egregious interceptions. He didn’t take any sacks. He lost a fumble late, but he’s bound to make some rookie mistakes. Carson Wentz led the NFL in all three categories for much of the season. No wonder the Eagles looked better with Hurts at quarterback.

Hurts did some good things too, passing it and running it. The Eagles played their best game of the season and it was no coincidence. They held off a second-half rally and beat the New Orleans Saints 24-21, who had won nine in a row. Hurts had 109 yards rushing and 167 yards passing. He made plays and maybe more important, mostly avoided bad plays.

The Eagles have their quarterback for at least another week, and perhaps some hope for the rest of the season.

Philadelphia Eagles' Jalen Hurts, left, scrambles past New Orleans Saints' Demario Davis. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)
Philadelphia Eagles' Jalen Hurts, left, scrambles past New Orleans Saints' Demario Davis. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)

Saints fall behind early

While Hurts was playing very well in the first half, Taysom Hill struggled. Hill has looked very good in two starts and not so great in two starts. Drew Brees is nearing a return, and while the Saints don’t want to rush him back, they might not be able to live through more of Hill’s inconsistency.

Hill had 65 yards and an interception on 15 attempts in a scoreless first half. On his interception, he threw a fastball on a short pass to Alvin Kamara when some touch was needed. Kamara couldn’t handle it, and linebacker Duke Riley nabbed a deflected pick.

Hill helped the Saints rally in the second half, but he still is up and down. He held the ball too long on many occasions against Philadelphia. He was sacked on a fourth-and-2 in Eagles territory when the Saints had cut the lead to 17-14. The Eagles went on a scoring drive right after that to take back control of the game.

Hill has done some good things as a starter. Sunday wasn’t good, especially when compared to the other quarterback who was making his starting debut. And it could be a loss that costs the Saints the No. 1 seed in the NFC.

Eagles hang on to win

Hurts’ best play seemed to energize the Eagles. On a fourth-and-two early in the second quarter of a scoreless game, Hurts stood in against a fierce pass rush. As he got hit he delivered a pretty back-shoulder pass to Alshon Jeffery, who caught it for a touchdown.

The Eagles took a 17-0 lead after that. The Saints rallied in the third quarter with back-to-back touchdowns while Philadelphia’s offense stalled, but they couldn’t finish the job. Hurts’ fumble led to a late Saints touchdown and New Orleans almost recovered the onside kick, but the Eagles ended up with it and ran out the clock. Combined with the Green Bay Packers’ win in Detroit, the Saints slipped out of the No. 1 seed in the NFC on Sunday.

The Eagles aren’t exactly in great shape at 4-8-1. But they are still in the NFC East race. And a rookie quarterback gives them more hope than they had a week ago.

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