NFL

A flying start: Eagles take down Falcons to take opener

Jalen Hurts Eagles Falcons
Jalen Hurts looks to have another big afternoon on Sunday against the 49ers.
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

The Jalen Hurts era as the starting quarterback of the future for the Philadelphia Eagles started off emphatically with a 32-6 victory over the Atlanta Falcons Sunday afternoon down in Georgia.

Hurts was masterful after an offseason of questions surrounding his status as the No. 1 man under center moving forward, completing 27-of-35 passes for 264 yards and three touchdowns in the victory — spreading the wealth to two young receivers of the future in rookie DeVonta Smith and second-year man Jalen Reagor. Both pass-catchers had touchdown receptions.

Meanwhile, the Eagles defense was nearly impenetrable despite bending on a few occasions — yielding just 98 yards after allowing 178 on Atlanta’s first two possessions — especially from the start.

They were picked apart during a 14-play drive to open the game, but the Falcons — all-too on-brand — stalled in the red zone to settle for just a field goal despite the lengthy possession.

Hurts showed Atlanta how it was done, hooking up with Smith, who posted 71 yards on six catches, to get Eagles fans foaming at the mouth for an 18-yard touchdown with 6:17 left in the opening quarter to give Philadelphia a lead. A lofted pass from Hurts was weighted perfectly down the left sideline, resulting in an easy catch for the prized rookie receiver at the front pylon.

The Falcons frustration further grew in the red zone after Ryan and Co. drove down to the Eagles’ nine-yard-line, but they couldn’t punch it in again, settling for another field goal at the start of the second quarter to pull within one.

A largely uneventful second quarter that featured an Eagles’ turnover-on-downs sprung to life in the final 1:44 minutes as an aggressive two-minute drill was executed perfectly by Hurts. The Eagles went 62 yards on 12 plays, ending with a connection from Hurts to tight end Dallas Goedert from nine yards out with two seconds to go before the half to put the Eagles up nine at the break.

The pinpoint throw on the run was the exclamation point of a strong first half from Hurts, who completed 18-of-24 attempts for 169 yards and those two scores.

As the Eagles offense continued to clamp down, their lead was extended when Kenneth Gainwell darted home from eight yards out on a draw play to put the Eagles up 16 with 1:25 left in the quarter.

Reagor got in on the fun with 4:20 to go in the fourth quarter when he hauled in a 23-yard touchdown from Hurts.

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