It was a referendum on the quarterbacks. For a while, whenever an established quarterback faces Jalen Hurts and the Eagles, it always will be a referendum on the quarterbacks. There is no greater question mark in cleats than Hurts. He just keeps on answering those questions.
The contrast in ability and desire was obvious and astonishing. Rodgers wasn’t only the second-best quarterback in the game Sunday night, he was the second-best quarterback on his team. Jordan Love, the controversial first-round backup Rodgers has resented since the 2020 draft, led the Pack to 10 points after Rodgers exited with two very nice touchdowns and two very bad interceptions.
Hurts knows something about in-house resentment as a 2020 pick. Carson Wentz dissolved into irrelevance as soon as the Eagles drafted Hurts in the second round of that draft.
Rodgers, by contrast, responded with back-to-back MVP seasons, but his passion has waned as abruptly as his abilities. Rodgers hasn’t ruled out retirement after 2022, especially considering how much 2021 diminished his profile, despite stellar regular-season play.
In 2021, Rodgers lied about his vaccination status, spread COVID-19 disinformation, played badly in a first-round playoff upset, then, at 38, teased retirement in the offseason until the Packers gave him a crippling, three-year, $150.8 million contract extension.
Hurts broke the Eagles’ single-game rushing record for a quarterback … in the third quarter. Michael Vick set it, at 130, in 2010 against the Giants. Hurts rewrote the Eagles’ record Sunday night, finishing with 157, which is fifth in NFL history.
Hurts also went 16-for-28 for 153 yards with two touchdowns. With Rodgers and Buccaneers star Tom Brady fading, and with Dak Prescott on his heels, Hurts clearly is the most valuable and most dangerous quarterback in the NFC. His passer rating of 104.3 and his 593 rushing yards both rank second.
It doesn’t matter that Rodgers arrived in Philly with a six-week-old ligament injury in his throwing thumb, or that he left with a fresh strain of his right oblique that ended his night, and probably his season, since his team fell to 4-8, and maybe his Hall of Fame career. He’d compiled a 115.9 passer rating in the last two games, including a win over the Cowboys.
Rodgers on Sunday wasn’t his incomparable self, but he wasn’t the problem this season. Youth, injuries, and a shoddy run defense carried this club to irrelevance.
The Packers entered ranked 27th against the run, and it showed. The Eagles gained 98 rushing yards and scored two touchdowns in the first 10 minutes and finished with 363, the second-best output in franchise history; their record was set Nov. 21, 1948, in a 42-21 win over Washington.
Hurts converted three third downs in the first 16 minutes. First, on third-and-10, he faked his spy, Quay Walker, onto the ground, and ran through the tackle of Darnell Savage, who injured his foot, and gained 24 yards. Second, on third-and-6, he scooted for 28 yards, but that was because Jason Kelce wasn’t called for an obvious holding penalty in the middle of the field.
Then again, when you’re 4-7, almost certain to miss the playoffs, on the road against the NFC’s best team, and it’s raining on Sunday Night Football, you might not get that call.
Those runs set up the Eagles’ first touchdown. For his third conversion, on third-and-2, Hurts scooted 42 yards up the right side. Somehow, Walker was on the left side of the field. Maybe he didn’t want to be embarrassed again.
He fired a 14-yard dime to the left sideline, across his body, in the face of pressure, and converted third-and-12 at the Packers’ 19 midway through the third quarter. That framed Hurts’ 6-yard TD toss to A.J. Brown.
The genius of quarterback often exhibits itself in details of seemingly unimportant plays. Such was the case with Hurts on Sunday. He escaped almost everything but forced nothing.
He threw a pass away after he spun out of the massive arms of Devonte Wyatt, then ran away from rookie linebacker Kingsley Enagbare, who’d run a 4.8-second 40-yard dash in March. It happened at the end of the third quarter.
source: The Philadelphia Inquirer