PHILADELPHIA – Avonte Maddox is on the sideline when Jalen Hurts is on the field.
Still, the cornerback can’t take his eyes off the quarterback.
“I always watch Jalen,” said Maddox after the Eagles whipped the New Orleans Saints on Sunday, 40-29, at Lincoln Financial Field. “I’m looking at the Jumbotron.”
So, Maddox, and the packed house at Lincoln Financial Field, saw first-hand the move Hurts made on Saints defender Carl Granderson on his way to a 24-yard touchdown. It was the quarterback’s third TD of the game, and easily the most impressive, though his second one from 3 yards away, had to be challenged.
He is the only QB in Eagles history to run for three TDs in the same game and was the first quarterback in the NFL to do it since Russell Wilson in 2012. Hurts is also the third-youngest (23 years, 106 days) to do it since 1950 behind Billy Kilmer (22 years, 40 days) in 1961 and Cam Newton (22 years, 207 days) in 2011, per CBS’ Jeff Kerr.
Asked if that held any significance to him, Hurts let out a big sigh before answering.
“I like winning,” he said. “That’s the most significant thing we’ll get out of the day for me. We came into (Sunday), we played hard, we had some ups and downs in the football game, but in the end we were victorious. There’ll be a lot to learn from this game.”
Hurts’ third score was an ankle breaker, and it also allowed the Eagles faithful to breathe easy after the Saints had scored 17 straight points in the fourth quarter to cut their 33-7 deficit to 33-22 with just over seven minutes to play
Hurts ended the drama with the run that came with 3:59 to play.
“When I seen him make that move, I was like oh snap, I was looking for the trainer so I could grab some tape to help that kid’s ankles,” laughed Maddox. “Even if that was me out there, I’d probably be calling to somebody else to tape me up. He’s definitely dynamic. (Number) one is always a baller and it’s exciting to watch him play.”
Hurts said he never saw a replay and, he said, was just in game mode.
“I just made a play,” he said. “I look it as a situation in the game.”
His coach put it a different way.
“Jalen made a huge play,” said Nick Sirianni. “And the guy read the play pretty well and made a great move. It was awesome. It was a great individual play by Jalen.”
Hurts then began talking about missed opportunities, that his team scored just two touchdowns in the red zone and had to settle for field goal two other times.
Sirianni said he became too conservative, and that’s why the Saints were able to get back into it.
Hurts, though, bailed out his coach and team, allowing them to win their first game at home and win back-to-back games all season.
“We obviously had drives…I’m kind of frustrated, I’m really frustrated by the drives we didn’t score in the red zone,” said Hurts. “We should have. We had a few mental errors. We had things we could control. It didn’t happen. We didn’t execute. It allowed them to come back in the game. We kept giving them good field position and they scored. It shouldn’t have been that way.”
Hurts’ second TD had to be challenged by Sirianni after an official, who was standing right there, said the QB stepped out before getting the football across the goal line.
Sirianni’s challenge worked. The play was ruled a touchdown, giving the Eagles a 14-0 lead in the first quarter and just minutes after Hurts had scored from one yard out.
“I thought I got in,” said Hurts. “Sometimes it’s hard for me to celebrate of do all these different things after we score touchdowns, because I’ve had like eight of them called back this year, so a little hesitant sometimes. (Number) 56 (Demario Davis) came down, we joked about it after the play. He was rolling. He wasn’t rolling enough.”
Hurts was part of an Eagles rushing attack that ran for more than 200 yards for the third time in the last four games.
He had 69 of the team’s 242 yards on the ground while completing 13 of 24 passes for 147 yards.
His three rushing scores five him eight on the season and he now has 618 yards rushing on the season.
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.