DENVER – DeVonta Smith celebrated his 23rd birthday with a marvelous first-half performance against the Denver Broncos.
With another half to go, Smith has already caught two touchdown passes, his first from 36 yards away, his second from five yards out on third-and-goal, as the Eagles took a 20-10 lead at halftime.
It was the second straight week Smith has caught a touchdown and he has four on the season. He is the first Eagles rookie receiver to catch multiple TDs in a road game since Freddie Barnett on Dec. 29, 1990, at Phoenix.
He closed the half with four receptions for 66 yards.
The Eagles lost tight end Dallas Goedert early to a concussion after safety Justin Simmons appeared to elbow him on his way to the ground following a 24-yard reception that helped keep a touchdown drive alive.
There was no penalty on the play, as the Eagles were forced to turn to unproven Jack Stoll and Tyree Jackson.
Goedert’s catch came on third-and-12 and helped the Eagles erase a first-down running play to Jalen Reagor that lost eight yards.
On the third play following Goedert’s injury, Jalen Hurts lofted a ball to the end zone, where Smith and former Alabama teammate Patrick Surtain were jousting. Somehow, Smith went up and caught the ball over Surtain for a touchdown and a 10-0 lead with 3:16 to play in the first quarter.
It was Smith’s second straight week with a TD catch and the third of his rookie season.
The 36-yard TD is the longest receiving score by an Eagles rookie since rookie Mack Hollins had a 64-yard TD on Oct. 23, 2017, vs. Washington.
The Broncos bounced back for a tie though, scoring on two straight possessions, getting a 1-yard TD from Melvin Gordon and a 21-yard field goal from Temple product Brandon McManus.
The field goal was set up by a 64-yard catch-and-run from tight end Albert Okwuegbunam. The Eagles defense, however, did not allow a touchdown despite the play putting Denver at the 8 and an offside penalty from Derek Barnett moving it to first-and-goal at the 4.
Barnett later came back to record his second sack of the season.
After the Broncos forged a tie, the Eagles used a 12-play drive that covered 75 yards in 6:32 to take a 17-10 lead on Smith’s second TD catch.
The Eagles converted three third downs along the way.
It was also a drive that saw Hurts run for 31 yards, a career-high.
Hurts ended the half with 15 completions in 20 attempts for 176 yards and a passer rating of 134.6. He added 52 yards on five runs as the Eagles ran 20 times for 100 yards.
Jordan Howard had six runs for 29 yards and Boston Scott added six carries for 22 yards.
Hurts would have had a third touchdown pass at the end of the half but Quez Watkins dropped a 34-yard dime Hurts threw into the end zone.
Jake Elliott, who opened the scoring with a 30-yard field goal, bailed his teammate out by connecting from 52 yards out with five seconds left in the second quarter.
Ed Kracz is the publisher of SI.com’s Eagle Maven and co-host of the Eagles Unfiltered Podcast. Check out the latest Eagles news at www.SI.com/NFL/Eagles or www.eaglemaven.com and please follow him on Twitter: @kracze.