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Gardner Minshew Perfect as Eagles Take 24-18 Lead at Halftime vs. Jets

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Something about backup quarterbacks and the Eagles.

Nick Foles won a Super Bowl in relief of injured Carson Wentz in 2017.

Four years later, Gardner Minshew stepped in for an injured Jalen Hurts and played a near-perfect first half against the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium on Sunday.

It’s not the Super Bowl, of course, but the Eagle needed perfection out of Minshew after the way their defense and kickoff coverage and returns played.

Minshew completed his first 11 throws for 165 yards, two touchdowns and a perfect passer rating of 158.3 as the Eagles took a 24-18 lead at halftime as the Eagles scored points on all four of their possessions.

His first incompletion didn’t come until 1:25 remained in the half when he tossed the ball to the turf trying to set up a screen.

Minshew ended the half with 14 completions in 15 attempts for 188 yards. His passer rating remained at 158.3 despite the incompletion.

MORE: Gardner Minshew In, Jalen Hurts Out

Dallas Goedert was the backup QB’s favorite target, with the tight end catching touchdowns from 36 and 25 yards. He had five receptions for 98 yards in the first two quarters. His career-high is 101 yards against Washington last December and his career-high in catches his nine vs. Dallas in 2019.

The Jets stung the Eagles early, getting a 79-yard kickoff return from Braxton Berrios to start the game, setting New York up at Philly’s 21.

Zach Wilson finished things up from there finding rookie Elijah Moore from three yards out on third down, but kicker Alex Kessman, a practice squad call-up, missed the first of two PATs.

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Wilson finished the half 12-for-14 with 108 yards, two touchdowns, and a passer rating of 138.4. He is bidding to become the sixth QB this season to complete at least 80 percent of his throw against the Eagles’ defense.

Berrios struck again when he took a kick back 29 yards after Minshew hit Goedert from 36 to take a 7-6 lead.

New York marched 68 yards on 11 plays, using 6:07 of the clock to take the lead back.

Back and forth the two teams went, with both scoring on their first three possessions, but the Eagle led 21-18 because Jake Elliott, the reigning NFC Special Teams Player of the Month for November, made all three of his PATs.

The Eagles were able to put a little separation on the scoreboard after a Josh Sweat sack of Wilson forced the first punt of the game. The Sweat gives the Eagles defensive end 4.5 this season.

The Eagles got the ball in plus-territory after a 20-yard punt return from Jalen Reagor. They moved the ball deep enough to let Elliott kick a 31-yard goal with 19 seconds left in the second quarter that sent the Eagles into the locker room with a 24-18 lead.

The play that led to the kick, though, was a Minshew completion to Quez Watkins for 22 yards on third-and-18 from New York’s 43.

Reagor, however, botched a kickoff return when he let the ball hit behind him at the 1, thinking it was going into the end zone. Instead, the ball checked up and Reagor had to retreat to get to it before New York did. He managed to return it five yards.

Undaunted, the Eagles' offense put together a 94-yard drive that took eight plays and 4:52. The drive was finished with an 18-yard TD run from rookie Kenny Gainwell to take a 21-18 lead. It was Gainwell's fourth rushing TD of the season and fifth overall.

The Eagles ran the ball 15 times for 74 yards despite not having Hurts, who was out with a sprained left ankle suffered in last week’s loss to the New York Giants.

Miles Sanders had 10 runs for 43 yards with Gainwell adding 22 on three runs.

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.