Darius Slay, DeVonta Smith help Eagles bury Broncos despite TE Dallas Goedert's injury

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DENVER – Teddy Bridgewater didn't want any part of Darius Slay.

Slay, the Eagles' cornerback, was speeding past the Broncos' offense after picking up a fumble, and Bridgewater, the Broncos' quarterback, just let Slay race on by for an 83-yard return for a touchdown.

Just like that, the Eagles took control of a game the Broncos were threatening to tie and ended up rolling to a 30-13 win Sunday.

For the Eagles (4-6), the win gives them a chance for a playoff spot heading into the final seven games of the season with five of those remaining games against teams with three or fewer wins.

But it also continued the Eagles' rushing dominance as they rushed for 214 yards. This one was more impressive, however, because the Broncos came into the game allowing just 98.3 rushing yards per game, ranking sixth in the NFL.

Yet Jordan Howard led the way with 83 yards, while Boston Scott had 81 and quarterback Jalen Hurts had 53. Hurts also had a strong game throwing the ball, completing 16 of 23 passes for 178 yards with 2 TDs and an interception.

The Broncos had no answer in the first half for rookie DeVonta Smith, who celebrated his 23rd birthday with two receiving touchdowns, including a beautiful leaping grab in the end zone from 36 yards out against his former Alabama teammate Patrick Surtain.

All of this was enough to overcome the loss of tight end Dallas Goedert, who left the game in the first quarter with a concussion.

Even the defense did its part to frustrate the Broncos (5-5) when they had chances to get back into the game.

Smith, however, set the tone early on.

The rookie wide receiver scored two touchdowns in the first half, enabling the Eagles to take a 20-10 lead in the first half.

This came after the Broncos erased the Eagles' 10-0 lead.

Then Smith struck again, catching a 5-yard pass in the back of the end zone with 3:07 left in the half for a 17-10 lead. Smith had all 4 of his catches for 66 yards in the first half.

Denver drove down the field to start the third quarter, but the Eagles' defense stiffened after the Broncos got a first down at the 10. Then K'Von Wallace blocked Brandon McManus' 22-yard field goal attempt.

Philadelphia Eagles running back Boston Scott (35) dives over Denver Broncos safety Kareem Jackson (22) in the first quarter.
Philadelphia Eagles running back Boston Scott (35) dives over Denver Broncos safety Kareem Jackson (22) in the first quarter.

It was 20-13 when the Broncos had their best chance to tie the game following Hurts' interception that gave Devner the ball at its 47 late in the third quarter.

The Broncos faced a 4th-and-1 from the Eagles' 23 when Bridgewater handed off to Melvin Gordon, who bulled his way up the middle for enough yards to get the first down.

But Davion Taylor wrestled the ball loose, and Slay picked it up and started heading down the field. Bridgewater had a chance to tackle him near midfield. He started to lower his shoulder, but then stopped and Slay sped the rest of the way into the end zone.

Just like that, the Eagles were back up by two touchdowns.

Slay a touchdown machine

Darius Slay scored his second touchdown of the season on Gordon's fumble. His first was a 33-yard return, also on a fumble recovery, on Oct. 31 against the Lions.

This time, Slay picked up the loose ball, bobbled it, then picked it up again and took off down the left side. He cut across the middle, blowing past several tacklers.

Instead of Denver continuing its drive for a possible game-tying touchdown, the Eagles had a 27-13 lead at the end of the third quarter.

Dallas Goedert leaves with injury

Eagles tight end Dallas Goedert left with a head injury in the first quarter Sunday after taking an elbow to the head on a 24-yard reception.

The Eagles ruled him out with a concussion. That left Jack Stoll and Tyree Jackson as the only tight ends. Stoll has the only NFL catch among the two heading into the game – 1 for 9 yards.

Stoll added 2 catches for 6 yards Sunday.

Goedert caught a pass over the middle on 3rd-and-11 and took the ball upfield where he was hit as he was falling by Denver's Justin Simmons.

The referees immediately waved the Eagles' trainers onto the field, and they escorted Goedert off the field and into the medical tent. After a few minutes, Goedert walked back into the locker room.

The Eagles first announced that Goedert was being evaluated for a head injury. Later, they ruled him out.

More penalties for Barnett

Defensive end Derek Barnett committed two more costly penalties Sunday. The first came in the second quarter when he jumped offsides on 1st-and-goal from the Eagles' 8, thus giving the Broncos the ball at the 4.

The second came in the third quarter after Broncos quarterback Teddy Bridgewater threw incomplete on third down from the Eagles' 25. But Barnett, who was rushing on the play, was called for a personal foul after he hit Bridgewater.

That gave Denver a 1st down at the Eagles' 10. The Broncos ended up with a field goal there, too.

Barnett did have a sack in the second quarter, his second of the season.

DeVonta bests Alabama teammate

The Eagles scored their first touchdown on a beautiful 36-yard pass from Hurts to Smith, who leaped and caught it over Surtain, who was Smith's teammate at Alabama.

That gave the Eagles a 10-0 lead with 3:16 left in the first quarter.

Surtain was the No. 9 pick in the draft last spring, just ahead of Smith. Surtain was listed as questionable heading into the game with an ankle injury.

Smith is also seeing another Alabama teammate in Broncos wide receiver Jerry Jeudy.

Jeudy was the Broncos' first-round pick in 2020 and had 856 yards receiving. Jeudy spent much of this season on injured reserve.

"I came into college with him," Smith said about Jeudy. "We always worked out together, helping each other get better. Things that he did that I put in my game, and things I did he put in his game. As a brother, we were there together, went through it and learned from each other."

Contact Martin Frank at mfrank@delawareonline.com. Follow on Twitter @Mfranknfl.

This article originally appeared on Delaware News Journal: Darius Slay, DeVonta Smith help Philadelphia Eagles top Denver Broncos