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November 27, 2023

Handing out 10 awards from the Eagles-Bills game

Jalen Hurts had a stellar second half and OT, Jake Elliott has a bionic leg, James Bradberry had a timely pick, and Brandon Graham has the honor as an Eagle for life.

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112623JalenHurts Eric Hartline/USA TODAY Sports

His numbers weren't pretty for most of the night, but Jalen Hurts showed why he's an MVP candidate Sunday evening against the Bills.

The Philadelphia Eagles improved to 10-1 in a rainy thriller Sunday evening against the Buffalo Bills. As always, win, lose, or tie, we hand out 10 awards.

1) The 'Tale of Two Halves' Award 📉📈: Jalen Hurts

In the first half, Hurts was 4/11 for 33 yards, 0 TDs, 1 INT, and a lost fumble. He ran 7 times for 22 yards and a Brotherly Shove TD.

The INT came on a play in which Leonard Floyd had a free run and Hurts tried to throw the ball through him. Floyd deflected it, and the ball fluttered into the arms of LB Terrel Bernard. It was similar to the pick-six Hurts threw against the Dolphins earlier this season, and perhaps serves as an example of a lesson not learned.

The fumble was a play in which Hurts held the ball out to Kenny Gainwell and then pulled it back. When Hurts pulled it away Gainwell (likely rightfully) thought he was not getting the ball. Hurts then jammed the ball back into an unexpecting Gainwell's gut. The ball fell to the turf and was recovered by the Bills. Hurts fault? Gainwell's fault? Whatever the case, it was sloppy football.

In the second half, Hurts was 14/20 for 167 yards, 3 TDs, and 0 INTs. He ran 7 times for 43 yards and the game-winning TD. He made good decisions and big-time plays. 

His throw to DeVonta Smith was a touch pass in between three defenders that was placed in a spot slightly behind Smith where Smith could protect himself from the oncoming safety.

"Jalen helped me out with the throw," Smith said. "He kinda threw me that way to protect me. So I appreciate him for that."

Hurts also extended a play and found Olamide Zaccheaus in the back of the end zone for a score.

Hurts has now won eight straight regular-season games where he has faced a deficit of 10 points. That is an insane stat.

"That dude should be [the MVP]," Jordan Mailata said. "I don't know the requirements, but I know he's got the best record out of the f***ing MVP candidates. I love him, man. There's no words that can describe the love I have for this guy. He really embodies the perseverance and he leads by example." 

2) The 'Sub-Zero Water In the Veins' Award: Jake Elliott

Jake Elliott made a 59-yard field goal in the rain and into the wind to send the game to overtime:

Elliott said postgame that it was the most difficult kick he has ever made.

It was the third monster kick he has made this season. In Week 2 against the Vikings, he hit a 61-yarder into the wind at the end of the first half, and in Week 4 he hit a 54-yarder in OT to beat the Commanders.

There's no debate at this point. With all due respect to David Akers, Elliott is the best kicker in Eagles history.

3) The 'OH NO!' Award 😱: Lane Johnson

A little bit after noon on Sunday, the Eagles announced that Johnson was downgraded to "questionable" after suffering groin discomfort. He had an MRI, which showed inflammation. The Eagles ultimately decided to hold Johnson out so that he could be rested and ready for Weeks 13 and 14 against the 49ers and Cowboys.

From 2016-2022, the Eagles were 10-22 when Lane Johnson was out of the lineup.

• 2016: 2-8
• 2017: 1-0
• 2018: 0-1
• 2019: 3-1 (0-1 in the playoffs)
• 2020: 2-7
• 2021: 1-3
• 2022: 1-1

Also, the Eagles' lone loss in 2023 was against the Jets, when Johnson only played 9 snaps.

The offense was an outright disaster in the first half without Johnson, but they eventually adjusted and started putting points on the board. Anyway, make that 11-22.

Final observations: Eagles 37, Bills 34

4) The 'Tide Turner' Award 🌊: James Bradberry

Bradberry had the Eagles' defensive play of the game when he picked off Josh Allen. 

Bradberry sold that he was playing man coverage on the outside and got Allen to throw an out route to Stefon Diggs, which he jumped for the pick. That is a savvy veteran play.

The Eagles would score on their ensuing possession and take the lead after previously being down by 10.

5) The 'He's Heating UP' Award 🔥: DeVonta Smith

Smith had 7 catches for 106 yards and the twisting, turning TD shown above. He's starting to heat up, as he has 23 catches for 355 yards and 3 TDs in his last 4 games.

6) The 'Ground and Pound' Award 🏃‍♂️💨: The Eagles' rushing attack

On a rainy evening in which it took the passing game a while to get on track, the Eagles were able to run the ball effectively, racking up 185 rushing yards on 32 carries (5.8 YPC). D'Andre Swift had 14 carries for 80 yards, including a 36-yard run that jump-started the Eagles' first TD drive in the second half.

7) The "Marquez Valdez-Scantling Award For Excellence in Dropping Touchdown Passes' 🧈🖐️: James Cook

James did not cook.

Oof. We can be honest and acknowledge that the Eagles' last two opponents have left what should have been huge plays on the field, right?

8) The 'Worthy Adversary' Award: Josh Allen

Allen was a beast in this game, completing 29/51 for 339 yards, 2 TDs, and 1 INT, and running 9 times for 81 yards and 2 TDs. He was particularly impressive as a runner. 

That play won't make Reed Blankenship's highlight reel.

Allen and Hurts put on a show.

9) The 'Eagle For Life' Award 🦅⌛: Brandon Graham

Congratulations to Brandon Graham, who has now played in 189 games for the Eagles over his career – a new team record, formerly held by the aforementioned David Akers. 

Jason Kelce (187 games played) and Fletcher Cox (183 games played) will also catch Akers this season if they stay healthy.

10) The 'Dog Mask' Award 🐶: The Eagles, next Sunday against the 49ers

The Eagles are now three games through "THE GAUNTLET ☠️."

• Week 9: Cowboys: W
• Week 10: BYE
• Week 11: At Chiefs W
• Week 12: Bills W
• Week 13: 49ers
• Week 14: At Cowboys
• Week 15: At Seahawks (not sure they should still be here, but whatever)

Folks keep waiting for the Eagles to lose, but, you know, they just don't lose.

Oh, and by the way, the 10-1 Eagles opened as 1.5-point home UNDERDOGS next Sunday against the 8-3 49ers. Dust off those dog masks.

Eagles game ball: Jalen Hurts holds strong to complete OT winner vs. Bills

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