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Jalen Hurts, Tua Tagovailoa: Best Friendly Rivalry in Football History? Bama in the NFL Week 3

Former Alabama quarterbacks are making their mark, and so are some former Crimson Tide wide receivers, plus the game and matchup of the week.

They've been teammates. Replaced each other other in championship games. Both finished second in Heisman Trophy voting, were also both high draft picks. They've had more than their fair share of second-guessers and doubters, and still help each other out.

The friendly rivalry between Jalen Hurts and Tua Tagovailoa has always been unique, and might be the best that football has ever seen, college or pro. Going back to their days at the University of Alabama, when Mac Jones was the third-string quarterback they worked, competed and won like no other tandem around.

Now they're doing so again at the NFL level, where Tagovailoa leads the league in total yards with 740, and Hurts is right behind him at 723.

Their latest version of "Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better," came over the weekend.

It began on Sunday afternoon, when the Miami Dolphins overcame a 21-point fourth-quarter deficit to defeat Baltimore, 42-38 — the first team to do so since Philadelphia beat the New York Giants in Week 15 of the 2010 season.

Tagovailoa set career highs in passing yards (469) and touchdown passes (six).

At 24, he's the third youngest player in in NFL history with six touchdown passes in a single game, behind on Patrick Mahomes (who was 22 at the time in 2018), and Mitch Trubinsky (in 2018). He was also the fourth-youngest player in NFL history to have at least 450 passing yards and at least five touchdown throws in a game.

The short list of most touchdown passes in the fourth quarter of a game now features five players with four: Tagovailoa, Sage Rosenfels, Vinny Testaverde, Joe Montana and Ken Stabler.

Tagovailoa took the lead the NFL in passing yards, is tied for first passing touchdowns, is third in yards per attempt, and four in passer rating.

But then Hurts got his chance Monday night, and dismantled the Minnesota Vikings. 

He completed 26 of 31 attempts for an extremely impressive 83.9 percent, 333 yards and one touchdown, and had 57 rush yards and two rushing touchdowns.

In the process, Hurts, who is also 24, became the first player in NFL history to have a completion percentage above 80 percent, with 300-plus yards passing and two rushing touchdowns in a single game.

He has six career games with two-plus rushing touchdowns, the most by a quarterback in his first three season in the Super Bowl era.

“It was a big-time performance by him," Eagles coach Nick Sirianni said.

The quarterback himself tweeted: “Hurts, Don’t It?” along with a winking emoji and the franchise hashtag.

Granted, it's only two weeks, but both have gone from being called questionable starters in the NFL (Eagles fans are especially critical, and Dolphins fans still hung up on Dan Marino), to early MVP candidates.

How much fun would it be for Crimson Tide fans to see them someday square off in a Super Bowl?

More on the Flying Fish

It seems fitting that both Hurts and Tagovailoa have former Crimson Tide wide receivers among their primary targets, with DeVonta Smith on the Eagles, and Jaylen Waddle with the Dolphins.

Philadelphia's other starting wide receiver is A.J. Brown, who grew up in Starkville and played college football at Ole Miss (he was also a top-notch baseball prospect).

Waddle's tandem partner is Tyreek Hill, who played for a while at West Alabama. On Sunday, they became the first pair of teammates in NFL history to record at least 10 receptions, 150 receiving yards and two touchdown receptions in the same game.

Hill had 11 receptions for 190 yards and two touchdowns. Waddle made 11 catches for 171 yards and two touchdowns.

With his touchdown receptions of 48 and 60 yards, Hill was the first player since Ted Ginn Jr. in 2011 to record two touchdowns of at least 45 yards in the fourth quarter of one game.

His 284 yards in two games are the fourth-most receiving yards by a non-rookie in his first two games with a new team in NFL history, trailing only Anthony Allen (306 receiving yards with Washington in 1987), Randy Moss (288 receiving yards with New England in 2007) and Laveranues Coles (286 receiving yards with Washington in 2003).

That's a pretty impressive collection of players with ties to this region, and they'll all just getting going.

Recruiting Footprint

For those who wonder why Alabama is so consistently good in recruiting, besides Nick Saban of course, consider the following from the NFL roster breakdown of the 1,728 players on Kickoff Weekend rosters.

The state of Georgia, with one NFL player for every 70,940 residents, leads the list of NFL players per capita. It's followed by Louisiana (one in 71,658), Mississippi (one in 82,258), Alabama (one in 86,626) and Florida.

That's all in the Crimson Tide's recruiting footprint.

In comparison, the national average is one NFL player per 191,811 U.S. residents.

The top cities and high schools will look familiar as well.

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There were 19 players each from Houston and Miami, followed by Detroit (16) and Tampa (15).

"Coming from Miami, the competition is just different,” Cleveland Browns wide receiver Amari Cooper said. “There is a high-level of competition, so by the time you get to college a lot of guys from other states have a huge adjustment period because the game speeds up for them.

"What I have noticed from my experience and talking to a lot of other Miami guys is that they never have that adjustment period going into college. As a matter of fact, some guys say that when they get to college, things get a little bit easier because they played against so many rising stars from other states growing up as opposed to just playing against people in the Miami area. The high level of competition playing football in Miami prepares us for the next level."

IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., produced the most NFL players on 2022 NFL Kickoff Weekend rosters with 14 including former Crimson Tide tackle Evan Neal. Tied for second were American Heritage in Plantation, Fla., where cornerback Patrick Surtain II attended, and Saint Thomas Aquinas High School in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Third was Miami Northwestern Senior High School, where Alabama recruited Cooper.

On the current Crimson Tide roster, Ja'Cory Brooks and Trey Sanders went to IMG, Earl Little II went to American Heritage, Jordan Battle and Dallas Turner and Tyler Steen attended St. Thomas Aquinas.

Game of the Week

The Eagles at Commanders, and Ravens at Patriots are both tempting considering the volume of former Crimson Tide players on all four teams. But Buffalo at Miami could be a definitive game for the Dolphins and Tagovailoa. The Bills are considered by many to be the best team in the league and the defense has allowed the fewest yards in the AFC, 215.0 per game. The quarterback hasn't had much success against the Bills, but neither has anyone else lately.

Matchup of the Week

Landon Dickerson, left guard of the Eagles, against the Commanders defensive line including Jonathan Allen and Da'Ron Payne. Allen has a sack in two of his past three home games, and Payne is looking to notch one in his third straight game.

How to Watch NFL Week 3

All times CT

Thursday's Game

Pittsburgh at Cleveland, Prime Video, 7:15 p.m

Sunday's Games

New Orleans at Carolina, noon, Fox
Houston at Chicago, noon, CBS
Kansas City at Indianapolis, noon, CBS
Buffalo at Miami, noon, CBS
Detroit at Minnesota, noon, Fox
Baltimore at New England, noon, Fox
Cincinnati at New York Jets, noon, CBS
Las Vegas at Tennessee, noon, Fox
Philadelphia at Washington, noon, Fox
Jacksonville at Los Angeles Chargers, 3:05 p.m., CBS
Los Angeles Rams at Arizona, 3:25 p.m., Fox
Atlanta at Seattle, 3:25 p.m., Fox
Green Bay at Tampa Bay, 3:25 p.m., Fox
San Francisco at Denver, 7:20 p.m., NBC

Monday's Game

Dallas at New York Giants, 7:15 p.m., ESPN/ABC

* Stat tracker can be found at the end of the article

Tide-Bits

• The Jones-Hurts-Tagovailoa quarterback trifecta is 5-1 this season, with the only loss coming at the hands of one of the other two. They're undefeated against everyone else.

Shaun Alexander and Cornelius Bennett were among the 129 modern-era nominees announced for Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Class of 2023. The list will be cut to 25 semifinalists in November, with 15 finalists revealed in early January.

• The touchdown by Irv Smith Jr. was his first in 646 days, dating back to December 25th, 2020, in a 52-33 loss to the Saints. Smith missed all of last season with a torn meniscus and only played 19 snaps in the Vikings' season opener this year after missing most of training camp with a thumb injury. However, he also had a key drop of what could have been a second touchdown in the second quarter.

Najee Harris on the Steelers' offensive struggles: "It's really frustrating, especially when you see the talent there," Harris said per All Steelers. "It's part of the process. ... The outcome wasn't what we wanted but I thought we did some good things on third down, better than the last game." Harris said the team's execution was the problem. Keep an eye of Harris this week. The last time he faced the Browns, Harris had a career-high 206 scrimmage yards (188 rush, 18 rec.).

INLINE

Did You Notice?

Which of the Winless NFL Teams Can Still Save Their Season?

• San Francisco worked out four veteran quarterbacks on Tuesday, including AJ McCarron. 49ers’ Future Thrown Up in the Air by Trey Lance’s Injury

Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones Impressed By Jalen Hurts, Eagles

• One final Tua item. A person on social media went so far as to flip the screen and see how Tagovailoa looked throwing the ball as if he was right-handed (which by the way, he is). He saw the left-handed passer in a new light. 

Bama in the NFL Database

Alabama Crimson Tide Players in the NFL
Tracking Active Alabama Crimson Players in the NFL
Alabama Crimson Tide Players in the NFL: Breakdown by Team
Active Alabama Crimson Tide Players in the NFL by Position
All-Time Alabama Crimson Tide Players in the NFL
All-Time Alabama Crimson Tide Players in the NFL By Team
Former Alabama Crimson Tide Players Selected in the NFL Draft
All-Time Alabama Crimson Tide Players Drafted by Round
NFL Draft: All-Time Alabama Crimson Tide Selections by NFL Teams
Alabama Crimson Tide Players Selected in the NFL Draft by Position

The Bama in the NFL Tracker appears every week on BamaCentral.

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