Jalen Hurts played through pain to beat the Commanders. The Eagles can’t afford to have him hurt worse.



It was 5:23 p.m., more than an hour after the game clock had hit 0:00 on the Eagles’ 38-31 victory over the Washington Commanders, when Jalen Hurts finally emerged from the visiting locker room at FedEx Field. He had played his best game of this season, throwing for 319 yards and four touchdowns. He had played in pain. How much, only he knew. How much, he would not say.

Jalen, how is your knee?

“I’m here,” he said. “I’m really happy with how we persevered and how resilient we were today. I’m happy we won.”  Yes, but how is your knee?  “I’m here. I told you guys I don’t really want to speak on it anymore. I’m out there.”

It’s safe to assume that Hurts wasn’t scrolling through his social-media feed for the first 67 minutes following the Eagles’ win, that he was getting some form of treatment. And the length of time he had stayed behind closed doors and his clipped-but-telling answers in that postgame news conference testified to the seriousness of his injury as much as any medical report could have.

“He’s not always going to tell me how he feels,” coach Nick Sirianni said. “He always wants it on him, and that’s what you want from your quarterback. He played outstanding — completely outstanding. What you see is how good he’s playing in the pocket when he’s not playing the best that he can feel.”

No, Hurts was far from feeling his best, despite some pregame propaganda suggesting otherwise. Before kickoff, Fox’s Jay Glazer, one of the NFL’s approved information brokers, had given Hurts a relatively clean bill of health, saying that he “has been dealing with a bone bruise in his knee for four weeks. He plays through this stuff. He took a helmet to it last week, and it got re-aggravated. He’s fine.” No, Hurts isn’t fine. Hurts is tough. Anyone with eyes to see could tell that he was limping at times, tentative to leave the pocket at others. This was a concern last week, when he donned a brace on his left leg to get through the game against the Dolphins. It remains a concern now.

There’s nothing reassuring for the Eagles about Hurts’ having to deal with this kind of injury so early in the season. They have built themselves a decent cushion in the NFC; they’re the only one-loss team in the league. But the most challenging stretch of their schedule is just ahead of them — the Cowboys twice, the Chiefs, the Bills, the 49ers — and they won’t withstand it without Hurts or even with a version of him that is more compromised and vulnerable than Sunday’s.

What was reassuring about his performance against the Commanders was that it reaffirmed that he can pick an opponent apart from the pocket. He wasn’t perfect. The Eagles committed two turnovers inside the Washington 5-yard line, and Hurts was responsible for the second, fumbling the snap on what figured to be a sure touchdown on a quarterback sneak. But as dominant as A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith were against the Commanders’ cornerbacks, Hurts was flawless in delivering them the football.

He completed all 15 passes he threw to Brown and Smith, for 229 yards and three touchdowns. Both Brown’s brilliant one-handed, back-shoulder TD catch and Julio Jones’ go-ahead score were plays that Hurts had honed with them at practice Friday. The difference in the game was the residue of Hurts’ work and design.


“He has that ability to use his legs, which is a thing that he and guys who have that ability should utilize,” center Jason Kelce said. “But I think he’s also a very good decision-maker for the most part. He can make all the throws. He has the necessary strength and accuracy to do that, and when he’s confident and it’s clicking right, I don’t think you’re going to see many people in the pocket better than him. He’s a dynamic enough player with his arm that you can get to whatever you need to offensively.”

“He played a great game today,” Brown said. “He was hitting us in stride, just controlling the game, controlling the huddle. You know, as always.”

Yes, it’s long past time for that as always to be attached to any terrific Hurts performance. Two years ago, this kind of game from him would have seemed surprising. His growth since has made it old hat. “I’m able to light a fire in myself in terms of the standard I want to play to, want the team to play to,” he said. “We all feed off of that. We all feed off of our energy. I’m always OK with the result if I truly gave it everything that I had.” No one can doubt that he did that Sunday, no matter what went on behind those closed doors, no matter what he did or did not say.


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