Jalen Hurts comes up big, Nick Sirianni gets last laugh as Eagles beat Colts | Opinion

Safid Deen

The Philadelphia Eagles were staring down the brink of their second straight loss, and it would’ve been even more upsetting because it was against a team with an interim coach.

But that’s when the Eagles needed their MVP candidate to take the reins.

And Jalen Hurts delivered.

Hurts put the Eagles on his back in the fourth quarter, converting a fourth-and-2 inside the red zone for a first down and scoring a game-winning 7-yard run to help Philadelphia beat the Indianapolis Colts 17-16 on Sunday.

Hurts showed once again why he is in the conversation for the NFL’s MVP in helping the Eagles improve to 9-1 and stay first place among all NFC teams through 11 weeks.

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Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts (1) scores the game winning touchdown in the second half against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium.

“I don’t think we’ve scratched the surface,” Hurts said of the Eagles’ potential in their first game without tight end Dallas Goedert, who is sidelined indefinitely with a shoulder injury but expected to return later this season.

The Eagles flirted with perfection with their 8-0 start this season, only to be upended at home by the Washington Commanders on Monday Night Football. Six days later, the Eagles were down by double digits early in the third quarter in Indianapolis.

A loss to the Colts – who hired former center Jeff Saturday to serve as interim coach despite no college or NFL coaching experience – would’ve raised questions about the Eagles’ true stance among the NFL’s elite teams despite their record.

And it really would’ve – to say nicely – displeased Eagles coach Nick Sirianni.

Sirianni, 41, was the Colts’ offensive coordinator under former coach Frank Reich from 2018-20. Sirianni would’ve loved to coach this game against Reich. And he held his tongue as best he could postgame, reflecting on his mentor being fired.

“I’m emotional because I love Frank Reich,” Sirianni told reporters after the game.

“You don’t know what I think if he should be here or not, because you guys can probably imagine what I really think ... It was sweet to come here, especially with what happened in this organization the last couple of weeks. And get the win. A win. We’re leaving Indianapolis with a win.”

After giving up a touchdown to Colts running back Jonathan Taylor on the first drive and falling behind 13-3 early in the third quarter, Hurts and the Eagles prevailed.

Hurts threw a 22-yard touchdown pass to receiver Quez Watkins early in the fourth quarter to trim the deficit to 13-10.

Both teams saw their star playmakers – Taylor for the Colts and receiver A.J. Brown for the Eagles – fumble on their next possessions.

The Eagles defense forced the Colts (4-6-1) to kick their third field goal of the game, which Chase McLaughlin made with 4:37 left to play.

And on the Eagles’ final scoring drive of the day, Hurts converted on fourth down and saw his offensive line open a big hole so he could score a 7-yard rushing touchdown untouched.

“Jalen is special with the ball in his hands, and man, that thing opened up,” Sirianni said. “He executed. He scored. And it was pretty sweet.”

Added Hurts: “That was one that was in the bag, and I think we pulled it out at the right time in the right game. It was a helluva call by coach, helluva execution by the O-lineman, and we found a way.”

Hurts' score represented the first time in the game the Eagles went ahead. And the Colts had nothing offensively on their final drive against the Eagles defense, which slammed the door shut on a potential upset.

Hurts was 18 of 25 passing for 190 yards with a touchdown, while also adding 86 yards and a touchdown on the ground with 16 carries. He has 2,407 yards passing and 15 touchdowns and eight rushing TDs this season.

Hurts has the Eagles operating under his personal mindset: Strive for perfection, and chase a gold standard every time you’re on the field.

“We never wavered, I think, throughout the game. There were things that did not go our way in terms of our execution, and we put ourselves in a bad position. But we were never out of the fight,” Hurts said.

“There was never any doubt because of the belief we have in one another.”