Eagles-Colts analysis: Jalen Hurts delivers a comeback win
Written by ABC AUDIO on November 21, 2022
Hurts ran for the game-winning touchdown as the Eagles avoided the upset to the Colts thanks to their quarterback overcoming the team’s slow start.
INDIANAPOLIS — Jalen Hurts waltzed into the end zone unscathed. The third-year quarterback threw his arms up into the air, pumped at his chest three times, and screamed toward the visitors’ sideline after recording his go-ahead 7-yard rushing touchdown with 1 minutes, 20 seconds left.
When the Eagles needed him most, Hurts bailed them out and got his team back on the winning track. His go-ahead score gave the Eagles a 17-16 road victory over the Colts on Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Their latest victory created additional questions about various holes, but Hurts proved to be a dynamic and willing leader who escaped Indianapolis victorious. With seven regular-season games remaining, the Eagles possess the NFL’s best record (9-1), along with the NFC’s top seed, and first place in the NFC East.
Hurts’ report card
The offense wasn’t at its best, but Hurts delivered in crunch time.
He connected on necessary throws with accuracy and precision in the second half. Hurts completed 18 of 25 passes for 190 yards and one touchdown. After showing mechanical improvements from the pocket over the last two-plus months, Hurts also proved to be dynamic with his legs. He rushed 16 times for 86 yards, including his winning touchdown.
“There was never a doubt,” Hurts said. “There’s a lot of things we can learn from. Perfection is something that will never be caught, but why not chase the golden standard? It’s something we chase every day. … [On the final drive,] we executed. Execution. That’s what clicked. We had positive plays, there weren’t any turnovers — that’s our formula as an offense.”
Sunday marked the team’s first game without tight end Dallas Goedert, who was placed on injured reserve with a shoulder injury. Goedert’s presence was missed not only in the passing game, but also in the running game with his ability as a blocker. The Eagles will need to make more adjustments with Goedert slated to miss at least the next three games. Reserve tight ends Grant Calcaterra and Tyree Jackson both committed penalties during the first half.
Wide receiver DeVonta Smith paced the offense with six catches for 78 yards. A.J. Brown added five catches for 60 yards, while Quez Watkins caught both of his targets for 31 yards, including a 22-yard touchdown that sparked the fourth-quarter comeback.
Suh and Joseph debut
Just days after signing with the Eagles, defensive tackles Linval Joseph and Ndamukong Suh both appeared in their first game with their new team. Both players played during the opening drive, with Joseph earning a start in the team’s five-man defensive front. He acted as the nose tackle between Fletcher Cox and Javon Hargrave.
As expected, neither Joseph nor Suh received an abundance of snaps. Each player provided needed depth behind the starters, and Joseph and Suh combined for a sack against Colts quarterback Matt Ryan. Suh recorded three tackles while Joseph had four.
“It takes a couple games to get into 100 percent football shape,” Joseph said. “We have to keep going. It’s amazing that the two guys they added to the team got a sack; we’re just trying to give them a boost. That’s what we’re here for, to help the young guys and win games.”
The defense still had issues stopping the run early, but Jonathan Gannon’s unit made the necessary adjustments. Colts running back Jonathan Taylor recorded 49 of his 84 rushing yards during his team’s opening drive.
“They had a good first drive, a good plan,” linebacker T.J. Edwards said. “But we made our tweaks and got back to what we do, tackling well, making plays, and flying around. It’s all about the mindset: having faith in what we’re doing and playing with violence and attitude.”
The Eagles got off the field during critical situations. After being tossed around by the Washington Commanders in Week 10, the Eagles gave up just 5 of 15 third-down conversions to the Colts. During the team’s postgame celebration inside the visitors’ locker room, owner Jeffrey Lurie approached Gannon and told him, “incredible job,” while patting Gannon on the back.
During the offense’s final drive of the first half, the Eagles ran three consecutive plays while their most explosive playmaker, Brown, observed from the sideline. Not surprisingly, the Eagles went three-and-out. On the ensuing drive, Edwards made a big stop in the backfield, which forced the Colts into second-and-14 near midfield. The Eagles didn’t call a timeout, which allowed the Colts to waste most of the remaining clock. The Colts managed to tack on a field goal before the buzzer, while the Eagles concluded the first half still possessing all three of their timeouts.
Coming out of the half, the Eagles dialed up a shot play. Hurts had a look at Watkins downfield, but he didn’t attempt to deliver the football until he was being harassed by defensive end Yannick Ngakoue, who had beaten running back Miles Sanders in pass protection. Ngakoue ripped down at Hurts’ arm and forced a fumble, which the Colts recovered.
Momentum was riding with the Eagles. After safety Marcus Epps swiped the football out of Taylor’s grip, Edwards pounced on it to record a fumble recovery. The much-needed turnover provided the Eagles offense with an opportunity to take the lead in the fourth quarter.
Moments later, Hurts zipped a completion to Brown on a route to the middle of the field. Brown hauled in the football with ease, but he attempted to make an extra move on cornerback Stephon Gilmore. Multiple defenders then pounced on Brown, who lost the football.
Brown’s fumble was one of four by the Eagles, two of which they lost.
Sirianni’s emotional return
Shortly after the final whistle, Sirianni walked off the field while shedding several tears. He carried over those emotions into the locker room, where Hurts gifted Sirianni with a sentimental game ball.
Throughout the week Sirianni and former Colts receiver Zach Pascal insisted Sunday was “just another game” for the Eagles. But truthfully, this Week 11 matchup meant a little bit more for Sirianni, the former Colts offensive coordinator who made his return to Indianapolis for the first time as a head coach.
Sirianni considers former Colts coach Frank Reich as one of his closest mentors. Reich, who served as offensive coordinator during the Eagles’ Super Bowl run in the 2017 season, was fired following the Colts’ 26-3 loss to the Patriots on Nov. 6. Reich went 40-33-1 in the regular season with a 1-2 record over two playoff appearances.
“I’m emotional because I love Frank Reich,” Sirianni said. “He’s one of the best damn football coaches I’ve ever been around. I was hoping he and I would be able to coach against each other in this game. … I love him. So I got a little emotional about that.”
Game Recap: Eagles 17, Colts 16
Whew! The Eagles overcame a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit for the first time since the Miracle at the New Meadowlands in 2010 to defeat the Indianapolis Colts 17-16 as Jalen Hurts scored on a 7-yard touchdown run up the middle with just 1:20 remaining to give Philadelphia its first lead of the day. The Eagles are 9-1 and a perfect 3-0 against the AFC South.
Penalties and turnovers flummoxed the offense all game long, but Hurts was magnificent in the fourth quarter as he finished the day with 190 passing yards, a 107.1 passer rating, a game-high 86 rushing yards, and two total touchdowns. Quez Watkins scored the Eagles’ first touchdown of the day in the fourth quarter and DeVonta Smith led all players with 78 receiving yards.
The defense kept the Eagles in the game. After allowing a 75-yard touchdown drive on the first possession of the game, the Eagles held the Colts to three field goals. The Colts had four first downs on the opening drive, but just 10 first downs and 209 total yards the rest of the way. Linval Joseph and Ndamukong Suh made their Eagles debuts as running back Jonathan Taylor had 84 rushing yards and 3.8 yards per carry, while scoring a touchdown and losing a fumble. Quarterback Matt Ryan threw for 213 yards and Michael Pittman led the Colts with 75 receiving yards.
For those following from home, here are the in-game updates:
The Eagles won the toss and deferred. They are 9-1 with the coin toss this season.
• Linval Joseph started at nose tackle. The Eagles got the Colts to 3rd-and-6 quickly, but Matt Ryan hit Michael Pittman on a slant over the middle for a 24-yard gain. On the next play, Jonathan Taylor rushed up the middle 28 yards to the Eagles’ 19-yard line. Ndamukong Suh didn’t start, but he came in during the drive. Ryan converted a 3rd-and-1 on a QB sneak to set up goal-to-go from the Eagles’ 9-yard line. On 3rd-and-goal from the 1-yard line, Taylor rushed the ball in. Eight of the 10 plays on the drive were rushing attempts. Taylor gained 49 yards and scored the TD.
• It’s 7-0 Colts with 9:37 remaining in the first quarter. It’s the Colts’ first opening drive points all season.
• Boston Scott is in at kickoff returner for Britain Covey.
• Eagles waste no time getting A.J. Brown involved. Brown gains 14 yards on the first play from scrimmage on a quick in-cutting route from the left side. Three plays later, on 3rd-and-2, Grant Calcaterra was called for a hold on what would have been a Miles Sanders run for a first down. On 3rd-and-12, Jalen Hurts throws over the middle into a crowd for DeVonta Smith and former Eagle Rodney McLeod broke it up. Colts take over at the 28 with 6:48 to go in the quarter.
• T.J. Edwards opened the Colts’ second drive with a tackle for loss on a short pass in the flat to Taylor. But on the next snap, Ryan hit Pittman against Darius Slay for a 13-yard gain to make it 3rd-and-1. But nickel corner Josiah Scott did a great job of breaking up the short pass to Pittman on third down to force a punt. Covey maintains his role as the punt returner. Eagles take over at their 15 with 5:22 remaining in the quarter.
• Another drive for the Eagles starts with a pass to Brown. On an intermediate crossing route helped by pre-snap motion by Zach Pascal, Brown gained 29 yards. After a QB keeper gained 9 yards, Hurts connected with DeVonta Smith for 12 yards to the Colts’ 46-yard line. The Eagles committed back-to-back penalties to make it 1st-and-25 from the 50. The Eagles got most of the yards back – 18 – on a slant to Brown, but Tyree Jackson was called for pass interference. Jackson is making his season debut to make it 1st-and-35. The Eagles got it to 3rd-and-11, but Hurts was sacked by linebacker Zaire Franklin and defensive end Yannick Ngakoue. Arryn Siposs punted the ball which was fair caught at the 10-yard line.
• Two offensive drives that started out fast for the Eagles, only to be undone by penalties.
• Ndamukong Suh and Kyzir White tackled Taylor to end the first quarter.
• On 2nd-and-10. Taylor cut his way through the defense to gain 11 yards and the first down. Two plays later, on 2nd-and-7, left tackle Bernhard Raimann was called for a holding penalty which stalled the drive. Covey returned the punt 13 yards to the Eagles’ 42-yard line with 11:58 left in the half.
• QB SNEAK TIME! The Eagles converted a 3rd-and-1 with a Hurts sneak to extend the drive. Eagles are in Colts’ territory. After attempting a shot play down the right sideline to DeVonta, Boston Scott gained 5 yards on an RB screen. On 3rd-and-5, Hurts kept the ball and scooted up the middle for the first down at the 35-yard line. Miles Sanders bounced to the outside and gained 10 yards on the right side on the next play. On 3rd-and-8, Hurts hits Quez Watkins behind the linebacker on a crossing route for the first down. Hurts kept the ball on 1st down and set up a goal-to-go situation from the 2-yard line. McLeod kept Hurts out of the end zone. On 2nd-and-goal, the snap to Hurts was high and the QB had to take the loss of 8 yards. Hurts scrambled for a short gain on 3rd down, but the Eagles had to settle for a 22-yard field goal.
It’s 7-3 Colts with 4:50 left in the first half. The Eagles went 54 yards in 15 plays on the scoring drive. Hurts has 102 passing yards and 36 rushing yards to lead the Eagles.
• Colts convert a 2nd-and-10 with a short pass to tight end Mo Alie-Cox along the left sideline for a gain of 14. Rookie left tackle Bernhard Raimann was called for an illegal man downfield penalty, which eventually put the Colts in a 3rd-and-8. Javon Hargrave brought pressure and Ryan had to rush his throw and was incomplete. The punt went into the end zone and the Eagles will take over at their own 20 with 2:33 remaining.
• The Eagles faced 3rd-and-2 after the two-minute warning and Kenneth Gainwell was stoned for no gain by McLeod and linebacker Bobby Okereke. It’s three-and-out for the Eagles. Colts take over at their own 45 after a Keke Coutee return of 17 yards with 1:43 left in the half.
• Josh Sweat brought pressure on first down, but Ryan was able to get the ball to Parris Campbell over the middle for a gain of 13. On 1st down, T.J. Edwards snuffed out yet another pass to a running back, this time to Deon Jackson for a 5-yard loss. On 3rd-and-7, Ryan hit Alec Pierce along the sideline to shorten the field goal attempt. Chase McLaughlin’s 51-yard attempt squeaked through. It’s now 10-3 Colts with 13 seconds left.
• The Eagles went for it all on the opening play of the third quarter, but Miles Sanders was unable to hold off Yannick Ngakoue long enough and the defensive end stripped the ball from Hurts. The fumble was recovered by Colts defensive tackle Grover Stewart at the Eagles’ 22-yard line.
• On 3rd-and-5, Ryan threw the ball to the right side for Campbell. It looked like Josiah Scott knocked the ball down, but the referees signaled that it was a catch and a fumble that went out of bounds which would result in a first down for Indy. The Eagles challenged the ball. Eagles won the challenge. It’s an incomplete pass. Colts settle for a 36-yard field goal off the turnover to extend their lead to 13-3 with 13:14 remaining in the third quarter.
• Hurts connects with DeVonta down the left side on a comeback route for 24 yards to the 50. Cornerback Isaiah Rodgers was injured covering Smith on the play. But the momentum was lost as on the next play, Lane Johnson was called for holding. The Eagles overcame the 1st-and-20 with back-to-back passes from Hurts to Smith, followed by a QB sneak on 3rd-and-1. Three plays later, Hurts’ screen to Boston Scott lost a yard, so the Eagles went for it on 4th-and-10 from the Colts’ 39. Hurts scrambled to his left, but with no options open, he was eventually sacked by DeForest Buckner. Colts take over at their own 45 with 8:56 left in the third.
• How about an instant impact? Linval Joseph and Ndamukong Suh combined for the sack of Ryan on 1st down. On 2nd-and-16, Michael Pittman was called for a hold to further push back the Colts. The Colts didn’t recover and were forced to punt. Punter Matt Haack unleashed a beauty that went out of bounds at the Eagles’ 5-yard line.
• Eagles get nothing going on offense. Sanders runs the ball three times, but on 3rd-and-2 is denied the first down by Ngakoue. Colts have good field position after Coutee fair catches the ball at the Indy 45. There’s 4:57 left in the quarter.
• Right guard Will Fries was called for holding against Fletcher Cox, but one the next play, Ryan hit Pittman in a vacated area on the left side for 14 yards to convert 2nd-and-13. Ryan then bought time waiting for Kyler Granson open up on the left side and the tight end contorted his body in bounds to move the chains. Sensing the need to hold the Colts down, Defensive Coordinator Jonathan Gannon started sending extra bodies on run downs. After a 4-yard loss on a run blitz, Milton Williams sacked Ryan. McLaughlin’s 50-yard attempt went wide right to keep it 13-3 with 35 seconds left in the quarter.
• Eagles run one play before the end of the quarter as Miles Sanders gained 6 yards. Several times on Sunday, Sanders appeared just one move away from a BIG run. It’s 13-3 Colts entering the fourth quarter.
• After Sanders gained 6 yards for the first down, Hurts used his legs to weave his way through Indy’s defense to gain 23 yards to the Colts’ 22-yard line. Two plays later, Hurts connected with Quez Watkins for a 22-yard touchdown to make it 13-10 with 13:31 left in the game. Tight end Jack Stoll ran an out route to pull down the safety and open up space for Watkins who was crossing the field.
• Brandon Graham opened the next Colts’ drive with a tackle for loss, but Ryan then hit Pittman over the middle for 16 yards. After stopping Taylor for no gain, Taylor came up and churned out 9 yards up the middle. On 3rd-and-1, Taylor muscled his way forward and drew a crowd. The refs never stopped the clock and Marcus Epps stripped the ball which was recovered by Edwards with 10:48 left. Eagles take over at their own 43.
• The Eagles lost the momentum from the turnover when A.J. Brown had the ball stripped the ball out by Zaire Franklin and it was recovered by defensive tackle Eric Johnson. Colts take over at their own 34.
• On 3rd-and-11, Ryan threw a dart to Alec Pierce despite tremendous coverage by Darius Slay to midfield to extend the drive and keep the clock moving. Four plays later, Ryan heaves the ball up for Parris Campbell, who hauled the ball in between Josiah Scott and C.J. Gardner-Johnson before going out of bounds at the 5-yard line. Haason Reddick came up with a HUGE sack on 3rd-and-goal to hold the Colts to a 37-yard field goal. It’s 16-10 with 4:37 remaining in the game.
• Eagles to back to Brown, on the second play of the drive, to make it 3rd-and-2 from the Eagles’ 33. On 3rd down, Hurts bought time for Miles Sanders to get open down the right sideline. Hurts aired the ball out and Zaire Franklin tackled Sanders before the ball got there to draw the flag. From the Indy 28, Sanders continues to make hay on the ground with a pair of runs to get another first down at the 17. The Eagles go three straight times to Boston Scott – one pass and two handoffs – to make it 4th-and-2 from the 9-yard line at the two-minute warning. The Eagles lined up for the QB sneak, trying to get Indy to jump offsides before taking a timeout. On 4th down, Hurts lined up in the shotgun, empty formation, and ran a draw 3 yards to get the first down at the 6. Sanders gained 2 yards on 1st down. On 2nd down, Hurts decided to keep the ball on the read and was smothered by the Colts’ defense to the tune of a loss of 3 yards. On 3rd-and-goal, Hurts – out of the shotgun – rushed up the middle to a WIDE OPEN lane for the touchdown.
Eagles lead for the first time all day – 17-16 with 1:20 remaining. Colts have one timeout.
• Colts take over at their own 25 to start the drive after a touchback. Ryan’s first play of the drive was an incomplete pass to Pierce along the right sideline in front of Slay. On 2nd down, Ryan hit Campbell on a quick slant and the receiver went up the middle for 14 yards. Ryan passed to Deon Jackson in the flat on first down for a gain of 1 to the Indy 40. On 2nd down, T.J. Edwards blitzed up the middle and helped force an incomplete pass. Out of shotgun on 3rd down, Brandon Graham comes up with the sack beating the rookie Raimann. The other rookie offensive lineman, right guard Will Fries, jumped early and added another 5 yards to make it 4th-and-21. Ryan was pressured and his dump pass to Jackson was well short of the sticks. The Eagles survive.
Eagles coach Nick Sirianni after win over Colts: ‘I’m emotional because I love Frank Reich’
Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni was visibly animated on the sideline immediately after his team’s game-winning stop against the Colts, forcibly ridding himself of his headset before jumping onto the bench to holler at a pack of Philadelphia fans.
For Sirianni, it was more than just a win that improves the Eagles’ record to 9-1 following a disappointing Week 10 defeat, but something much deeper.
“I’m emotional because I love Frank Reich,” Sirianni told reporters after the 17-16 victory. “He’s one of the best damn football coaches I’ve ever been around. I was hoping he and I would be able to coach against each other in this game.”
Reich was fired by the Colts on Nov. 7 following a 3-5-1 start to what was his fifth season in Indianapolis. Sirianni served as the Colts’ offensive coordinator for the first three seasons of Reich’s tenure in Indy, which led to the 41-year-old attaining the head coach job in Philadelphia.
“I spent a lot of time here. One of my children was born here,” Sirianni said. “It was sweet to come here, especially with what happened with this organization the last couple weeks, and get the win. A win! Leave Indianapolis. With. A. Win.”
The Colts hired Jeff Saturday as the team’s interim head coach following Reich’s dismissal. Saturday’s Colts debuted with a surprising victory last week, and held a lead against the Eagles up until the final 80 seconds of Sunday’s game when Jalen Hurts scooted into the end zone for the go-ahead score.
“You don’t want to know what I think about whether he should be here or not, because you guys can probably imagine what I really think,” Sirianni said of Reich. “I love him. So I got a little emotional about that.”
An emotional win that came under the critical circumstances of a close, tough game may do wonders for the first-place Eagles going forward. Hurts recognized Sirianni’s emotions after the game by handing him the game ball, and adding another positive chapter to Philadelphia’s 2022 season.
“I know it’s special for him,” said Hurts. “He spent a lot of time here in Indianapolis. He has a lot of memories here — great homecoming for him. I’m glad we were able to get the win for him. As he walked off the field, I hear he got a little bit emotional. I guess I didn’t help when I tossed him the ball.
“Coach doesn’t get enough credit for what he does and what he’s been for us. He does a great job. I’m happy he got to get this win.”