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December 13, 2020

Handing out 10 awards from the Eagles-Saints game

Eagles NFL
121320JalenHurts James Lang/USA TODAY Sports

Jalen Hurts

For the first time in a long time, the Philadelphia Eagles didn't make their fans want to stick forks in their eyes, as they played well on both sides of the ball, producing what was easily their best performance of the season in a 24-21 win(!) over the New Orleans Saints.

As always, win, lose, or tie, we hand out 10 awards.

1) The 'Good Start' Award: Jalen Hurts

As a passer, Hurts' numbers weren't flashy. He was 17 of 30 (56.7 percent) for 167 yards (5.6 YPA) and 1 TD. But he didn't throw the ball to the other team, and he was very effective making plays with his legs. If his debut against the Packers a week ago was going to be any indication of what to expect going forward, it was that he was probably going to run a lot. And that he did, as he rushed 18 times for 106 yards.

Doug Pederson would not answer whether Hurts will continue to start for the Eagles next Sunday against the Cardinals, but clearly he has earned that opportunity.

There will be plenty to nitpick if you look closely at his day, and there were some obvious mistakes as well (his late-game fumble, for example), but on the whole, Hurts delivered a win, and in my view, exceeded expectations.

2) The 'Running For Miles' Award: Miles Sanders

Sanders has delivered his share of huge plays this season. Against the Saints, he ripped off an 82-yard run for a score, in which he just exploded through the defense.

He also had a pair of 74-yard runs earlier this season against the Steelers and Ravens. He's now averaging 5.6 yards per carry this season. 

By the way, Sanders (115) and Hurts (106) both went over 100 rushing yards. Apparently that's the first time an Eagles running back and quarterback both went over 100 yards rushing in a game since 2002.

3) The 'Bodyguards' Award: The offensive line

Hurts wasn't sacked all day. Of course, Hurts himself had something to do with that, as he was able to decisively get rid of the football when pressured, but the offensive line also played much better than it has in other games this season. 

4) The 'Game Changer' Award: Josh Sweat

Sweat had two huge sacks, including a forced fumble. On the season, he now has six sacks and three forced fumbles, which are nice numbers for a rotational pass rusher. 

Sweat has been a rare young player to be excited about this season.

Javon Hargrave is finally doing things lately, too. He had 2 sacks today as well.

5) The 'OMG HE DID SOMETHING' Award: Alshon Jeffery

Jeffery caught a TD pass!

Of course, the downside is that Howie Roseman is going to guarantee Alshon's 2021 salary now.

Side note: Great job by Hurts there to stand in, take the hit, and deliver a nice throw.

6) The 'Dropping Like Flies' Award: The Eagles' defense

Five Eagles defenders got hurt in this game, went to the locker room, and didn't return: 

  1. CB Darius Slay
  2. S Rodney McLeod
  3. CB Avonte Maddox
  4. DT Malik Jackson
  5. DE Josh Sweat

By the end of the game, the Eagles had the following secondary:

• CB Jalen Mills
• CB Nickell Robey-Coleman
• S Marcus Epps
• S K'Von Wallace
• CB (came in on nickel downs) Kevon Seymour

After pitching a shutout in the first half, the defense did begin to spring some leaks in the second half, but they held it together enough to win.

7) The '😬 Award' Jake Elliott

Elliott was already having a down year, and he missed a 22-yard FG from the middle of the field. It was super nice out with very little wind. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

8) The 'No Laps For You' Award: Sean Payton and the Saints

The Saints have owned the Eagles in recent years, and they've been pretty smug about it as well. Sean Payton has had the Saints' bus drivers do laps around Lincoln Financial Field after wins in the past, and Alvin Kamara once stated that the Saints "would have beaten the shit out of" the Eagles in the NFC Championship Game during the 2017 season if the Vikings hadn't eliminated them first.

The Saints were the 1 seed in the NFC before today. They're not anymore, as the Packers now have the inside track for the lone first round bye in the playoffs in the NFC.

9) The 'Gaining Ground, Sort Of, But Not Really' Award: The Eagles' chances of winning the NFC East

The Eagles started the day a game and a half behind the Giants and Football Team. The Giants got dominated by the Cardinals, but the Football Team beat the 49ers. So the Eagles did gain some ground, I suppose, but they remain a game and a half behind the Football Team.

NFC East Record GB 
 Football Team6-7 
 Eagles4-8-1 1.5 

In case you're wondering, here are the NFC East teams' remaining schedules:

 WFT (6-7)Giants (5-8) Eagles (4-8-1) Cowboys (4-9) 
 Seahawks (9-4)Browns (9-3) At Cardinals (7-6)49ers (5-8) 
 Panthers (4-9) At Ravens (7-5) At Cowboys (4-9)Eagles (4-8-1)
 At Eagles (4-8-1) Cowboys (4-9)Football Team (6-7) At Giants (5-8)
17-21-1 (0.449) 20-17 (0.541) 17-22 (0.437) 14-24-1 (0.372) 

The odds that the Eagles will win the NFC East remain long, but they did improve.

They're also +600 right now according to's consensus odds.

10) The 'Long-Term Damage' Award: The Eagles' draft positioning

Entering the day, the Eagles were sixth in the projected draft order. Because the Los Angeles Chargers and Dallas Cowboys won on Sunday, the Eagles could have jumped into fourth in the draft order with a loss. With their win, they are now ninth.

While it was probably fun to watch the Eagles look like a normal football team for a day, it came at a cost.

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