Eagles improve to 4-0, overcoming bad start, weather in gutsy win against Jaguars




PHILADELPHIA − There were so many things that the Eagles had to overcome Sunday in order to remain the only undefeated team in the NFL.

There was Doug Pederson's emotional return, a driving rainstorm, and a plethora of injuries.

And, oh yeah, a brutal start in which Jalen Hurts threw an interception returned for a touchdown as the Eagles fell behind by two touchdowns.

Yet the Eagles overcame all of it, beating the Jacksonville Jaguars 29-21 on Sunday behind a punishing running game, led by Miles Sanders, who had a career-high 134 yards. As a team, the Eagles rushed for 210 yards against the NFL's stingiest defense. The Jaguars came into the game allowing an average of 55 yards rushing per game.

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Jacksonville Jaguars
Jacksonville Jaguars' Travis Etienne Jr.  

The Eagles had doubled that amount with 112 yards by halftime.

But the Eagles also got a strong performance on defense, forcing five turnovers as quarterback Trevor Lawrence lost all four fumbles − two on strip-sacks by Haason Reddick − and threw an interception.

The Eagles kept pounding the ball in the second half as the rain and the wind, gusting to 28 mph, intensified.

Hurts, after the early interception, finished 16 of 25 for 204 yards.

All of which enabled the Eagles to improve to 4-0 for the first time since the 2004 team started 7-0. That team went to the Super Bowl.

It hardly seemed that would happen after Hurts threw an interception that was returned 59 yards for a touchdown by Andre Cisco. Soon after, Lawrence led the Jaguars down the field before completing a 4-yard TD pass to Jamal Agnew.

Then the Eagles got back into the game with two crucial plays. The first came when they stopped the Jaguars on 4th-and-3 from the Eagles' 34. Lawrence fumbled the ball and Fletcher Cox recovered at the 42. Hurts then completed an 18-yard pass to A.J. Brown, followed by a 26-yard pass to Dallas Goedert down to the Jaguars' 10.

Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts (1) scores a rushing touchdown past Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback Josh Thompson (23) and linebacker Devin Lloyd (33) during the first quarter of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct.
Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts (1) scores a rushing touchdown past Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback Josh Thompson (23) and linebacker Devin Lloyd (33) during the first quarter of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct.  

But Goedert's offensive pass interference penalty negated a TD pass to Brown. Facing a 3rd-and-goal from Jacksonville's 15, Hurts escaped pressure and gained 12 yards to the 3.

The Eagles passed on the field goal as Hurts took off up the middle. He bounced off Devin Lloyd and into the end zone, halving the Jaguars' lead.

The Eagles tied the game on Sanders' 10-yard run. Then they took the lead after Lawrence fumbled a snap at the Jaguars' 35, which Reddick recovered with 3 minutes remaining in the half.

Kenneth Gainwell eventually ran 10 yards for a touchdown with 26 seconds left in the half. Just like that, the Eagles were in front for the first time.

They extended the lead early in the fourth quarter after James Bradberry's interception led to Jake Elliott's 28-yard field goal. Reddick then strip-sacked Lawrence and recovered the fumble at Jacksonville's 24. That led to Sanders' 5-yard TD run for a 29-14 lead.

Philadelphia Eagles
Philadelphia Eagles' Fletcher Cox (91) celebrates recovering a fumble by Jacksonville Jaguars' Trevor Lawrence during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Oct.  

The Jaguars got to within eight points on Lawrence's 8-yard TD pass to Agnew, but it wasn't enough. Reddick forced another strip-sack, and the Eagles were able to celebrate.

Eagles break second-half drought

It took the entire third quarter, and even into the start of the fourth quarter before the Eagles ended their second-half scoring drought.

The Eagles technically broke the drought with 2 seconds left in the third quarter when Jake Elliott kicked a 43-yard field goal. But the Jaguars' Tyson Campbell was penalized for running into Elliott, giving the Eagles a first down at the Jaguars' 13.

The Eagles had to switch ends and their drive stalled when Dallas Goedert dropped a 3rd-down pass inside the 5. Elliott then kicked a 28-yard field goal into the wind, giving the Eagles a 23-14 lead with 13:42 left.

Three Eagles starters injured

The first series for the Eagles on offense couldn't have gone much worse. Hurts, who had thrown one interception through the first three games, tried forcing a pass into Zach Pascal on 2nd-and-7 from the Eagles' 36.

But the ball deflected off Pascal and into the arms of Cisco, who returned it 59 yards for a touchdown. Just like that, the Jaguars had a 7-0 lead with 11:15 remaining.

The Eagles also lost left tackle Jordan Mailata during that series. The Eagles disclosed that Mailata suffered a shoulder injury. Jack Driscoll replaced him. Cornerback Darius Slay left soon after with a forearm injury. He was replaced by Zech McPhearson.

Neither returned in the first half.

Then in the fourth quarter, right guard Isaac Seumalo went down with an undisclosed leg injury. Sua Opeta replaced him.

Before the game started, the Eagles ruled out starting slot cornerback Avonte Maddox for the game. Maddox suffered an ankle injury in practice on Thursday. The Eagles also didn't have running back Boston Scott, ruled out with a rib injury.

Doug Pederson's reception

Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Doug Pederson, left, talks to quarterback Trevor Lawrence during the first half of an NFL football game against the Los Angeles Chargers Sunday, Sept.
Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Doug Pederson, left, talks to quarterback Trevor Lawrence during the first half of an NFL football game against the Los Angeles Chargers Sunday, Sept.  

Pederson received a standing ovation from the Lincoln Financial Field crowd when he walked onto the field with his team before the game. It was well deserved.

After all, Pederson coached the Eagles to the only Super Bowl victory in franchise history. And that far outweighed the travesty of the 2020 season that ended with an embarrassing fourth-quarter tank job.

As Pederson put it during the week: "I was with the Chiefs and coach (Andy) Reid, we came back (in 2013), and he got a standing ovation, so hopefully it's in that realm. But look, it's Philly, anything's possible with these fans." Then he laughed.

Contact Martin Frank at mfrank@delawareonline.com. Follow on Twitter @Mfranknfl.

This article originally appeared on Delaware News Journal: Eagles off to 4-0 record, overcome bad start, weather in gutsy win

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