Hurts, Eagles pound Giants early, coast to NFC title game

Jan 21, 2023, 6:26 AM | Updated: 9:49 pm
Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts runs for a touchdown against the New York Giants during...

Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts runs for a touchdown against the New York Giants during the first half of an NFL divisional round playoff football game, Saturday, Jan. 21, 2023, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

(AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

              Philadelphia Eagles running back Miles Sanders runs with the ball against the New York Giants during the first half of an NFL divisional round playoff football game, Saturday, Jan. 21, 2023, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
            
              Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Haason Reddick, right, applies pressure on New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones during the first half of an NFL divisional round playoff football game, Saturday, Jan. 21, 2023, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
            
              New York Giants running back Matt Breida runs for a touchdown against the Philadelphia Eagles during the second half of an NFL divisional round playoff football game, Saturday, Jan. 21, 2023, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
            
              New York Giants running back Matt Breida, right, celebrates his touchdown run with Darius Slayton during the second half of an NFL divisional round playoff football game against the Philadelphia Eagles, Saturday, Jan. 21, 2023, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
            
              New York Giants linebacker Jarrad Davis (57) tries to intercept a pass on a broken play intended for Philadelphia Eagles tight end Dallas Goedert (88) during the first half of an NFL divisional round playoff football game, Saturday, Jan. 21, 2023, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
            
              Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts (1) throws a pass as New York Giants linebacker Jihad Ward (55) tries to rush in on him during the first half of an NFL divisional round playoff football game, Saturday, Jan. 21, 2023, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
            
              Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts works out prior to an NFL divisional round playoff football game against the New York Giants, Saturday, Jan. 21, 2023, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
            
              Philadelphia Eagles running back Kenneth Gainwell reacts following an NFL divisional round playoff football game against the New York Giants, Saturday, Jan. 21, 2023, in Philadelphia. The Eagles won 38-7. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
            
              Philadelphia Eagles tight end Dallas Goedert (88) scores a touchdown on a pass from quarterback Jalen Hurts, not visible, as New York Giants players surround him during the first half of an NFL divisional round playoff football game, Saturday, Jan. 21, 2023, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — All it took was one throw. Jalen Hurts let it fly on his first pass attempt of the game and suddenly the unease that crept into that often worrisome Philly sports psyche — yeah, but how is his banged-up right shoulder, really? — seemed to dissipate.

Hurts’ shoulder was fine. No doubt about that.

With Hurts in complete control, the Philadelphia Eagles once again look like the team that was rarely challenged during an NFL-best 13-1 start.

Hurts threw two touchdown passes and ran for a score during a dominant first half, and the Eagles overwhelmed the New York Giants 38-7 on Saturday night in an NFC divisional playoff game.

“To have him out there, I know this is high praise, it’s like having Michael Jordan out there,” coach Nick Sirianni said. “He’s your leader. He’s your guy. That’s the biggest respect I can pay to him.”

Top-seeded Philadelphia will host the NFC championship game next Sunday against either Dallas or San Francisco.

Hurts missed two late-season losses with a sprained right shoulder and then showed the Giants nothing in the season finale when the Eagles ran a vanilla offense designed to protect the Pro Bowl QB.

Under bright postseason lights at the Linc, the Eagles unleashed an offense designed to clobber the Giants. Hurts dazzled early with his arm and Philadelphia’s offensive line opened big holes for Miles Sanders and Kenneth Gainwell as the Eagles finished with 268 yards on the ground. Hurts finished 16 of 24 for 154 yards.

“Seemed like the old Jalen to me,” Sanders said.

Hurts showed he was fine when he aired out a pass on the second play of the game and hit DeVonta Smith in stride for a 40-yard reception. The fun was just starting in Philly.

Hurts was flawless on the drive, completing passes of 9 yards, 5 yards, and then — boom — a 16-yard TD pass on a one-handed grab by tight end Dallas Goedert.

Second drive, more of the same. Hurts had completions of 12 yards and 9 yards en route to a 9-yard TD pass to Smith.

It was 14-0 in the first quarter and the Giants already needed a standing eight count. New York turned the ball over on downs on its first possession, and Daniel Jones was intercepted by James Bradberry on its second.

The Linc was bonkers with full-throated chants of “E-A-G-L-E-S!” filling the air and Sirianni went wild chest-bumping assistants on the sideline.

“Philly’s been drinking since 8 a.m,” Goedert cracked of the raucous atmosphere.

Hurts’ shoulder may not have been 100 percent.

But his passing was: He went 7 of 7 for 89 yards in the first quarter.

“This guy leads, he brings this calmness to the entire team,” Sirianni said. “He’s as tough as they come. To me, there’s not anybody that’s played better football than him this year.”

Even when the calls were obvious for the Eagles, the Giants were helpless to stop them. Case in point: The Eagles had the ball on the New York 3. Give the ball to Boston Scott? Yes they did. Scott scored his 11th touchdown against the Giants for a 21-0 lead. He has only 19 TDs in his career. Giants defensive coordinator Wink Martindale riled up Philly fans this week when he insisted Scott wasn’t a “Giant killer.”

Hard to argue against that point now.

Hurts wrapped the half with a 5-yard touchdown run — he bobbled the shotgun snap but still coasted untouched into the end zone — for a 28-0 lead. There have been only four more lopsided first-half playoff shutouts in NFL history.

“I’m so proud of this team, how we came out here. I’m so proud of these fans. It’s a Philly thing, you know? It’s special,” Hurts said.

Gainwell finished with 112 yards on 12 carries, including a late 35-yard touchdown. Sanders had 17 rushes for 90 yards.

Coach Brian Daboll’s Giants were discombobulated from the start and looked nothing like the team that beat the Minnesota Vikings 31-24 last week for their first postseason win since their Super Bowl victory under Tom Coughlin 11 years ago.

Matt Brieda had an 8-yard TD run for the Giants in the third quarter. Daniel Jones was 15 of 27 for 135 yards and a pick.

“Give Philly credit, they did everything better than we did tonight,” Daboll said.

Hurts ran, threw and directed the offense with the same authority as he did when he led the Eagles to a 14-1 start and won over a city that still wasn’t so sure about him in the preseason. In last year’s playoff loss to Tampa Bay, Hurts threw two interceptions and was just 23 of 43 for 258 yards.

A year later, Hurts is a fan favorite and has the Eagles in the hunt for their first Super Bowl since 2018.

“We’re close to the top,” Sirianni said. “But don’t look at the the top yet.”

NEVER BREAK THE CHAIN

There was a busted link at the Linc.

The game was briefly stopped in the opening quarter because of a broken first down chain. The NFL still uses chains connected to two signal poles to measure the distance to a first down. With the Giants driving midway through the quarter, the game was delayed because of an “administrative stoppage.” The chain was quickly replaced and the game resumed with the Eagles ahead 7-0.

M-V-P

Two-time NL MVP Bryce Harper, who led the Phillies to the World Series, narrated a hype video. Three-time AL MVP Mike Trout, a New Jersey native and Eagles fan, attended the game and exhorted the crowd to get louder.

UP NEXT

The Eagles moved to 6-0 and Hurts threw two touchdown passes in a 26-17 win over the Cowboys in October. The Cowboys won 40-34 on Dec. 24 against Hurts’ backup, Gardner Minshew.

The Eagles last played San Francisco in 2021 and lost.

___

AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard, left, dribbles around Golden State Warriors forward An...
Associated Press

Lillard has triple-double, Blazers rally late past Warriors

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Damian Lillard had 33 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds as the Portland Trail Blazers rallied past the Golden State Warriors 125-122 on Wednesday night. Jordan Poole scored 38 for the Warriors, who played without injured guard Stephen Curry. Klay Thompson added 31 points on his 33rd birthday, including seven 3-pointers. […]
22 hours ago
Dallas Mavericks guard Kyrie Irving, right, dribbles as Los Angeles Clippers guard Terance Mann def...
Associated Press

Irving scores 24 in Dallas debut, leads Mavs over Clippers

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Kyrie Irving scored 24 points in his Dallas debut and the Mavericks defeated the Los Angeles Clippers 110-104 on Wednesday night. The eight-time All-Star was traded to the Mavs on Sunday from the Brooklyn Nets. He was part of a 13-0 spurt early in the game, scoring eight points on a […]
22 hours ago
Utah Jazz guard Jordan Clarkson (00) goes to the basket as Minnesota Timberwolves forward Jaden McD...
Associated Press

T’wolves top Jazz in matchup of teams trading with Lakers

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Anthony Edwards scored 31 points and Jaylen Nowell added a career-high 30 to lead Minnesota to a 143-118 win over Utah on Wednesday night amid word the Timberwolves, Jazz and Los Angeles Lakers were part of an eight-player swap hours ahead of the NBA trade deadline. “It was crazy, the […]
22 hours ago
Dallas Stars left wing Jamie Benn (14) is congratulated after scoring during the second period of t...
Associated Press

Benn breaks scoreless tie early in 2nd, Stars top Wild 4-1

DALLAS (AP) — Captain Jamie Benn broke a scoreless tie 23 seconds into the second period of his 1,001st career game, and the Dallas Stars beat the Minnesota Wild 4-1 on Wednesday night. Benn’s 20th goal on a perfect feed from 19-year-old rookie Wyatt Johnston started a three-goal second for the Western Conference-leading Stars. Radek […]
22 hours ago
Houston Rockets guard Jalen Green (4) signals after making a 3-point shot, next to Sacramento Kings...
Associated Press

Fox’s late FTs gives Kings 130-128 win over Rockets

HOUSTON (AP) — De’Aaron Fox had 31 points, including three free throws with less than a second left, to lift the Sacramento Kings to a 130-128 win over the Houston Rockets on Wednesday night. Fox missed a 3-pointer with .3 seconds left. But Eric Gordon fouled him to set up the game-winning free throws. “I […]
22 hours ago
Vancouver Canucks' Vasily Podkolzin (92) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal during the ...
Associated Press

Kreider, Chytil lead Rangers to 4-3 win over Canucks

NEW YORK (AP) — Chris Kreider and Filip Chytil got New York off to a strong start in the first period and the Rangers held on to beat the Vancouver Canucks 4-3 on Wednesday night for their third straight win. Alexis Lafreniere and Mika Zibanejad also scored for the Rangers, who have won four straight […]
22 hours ago
Hurts, Eagles pound Giants early, coast to NFC title game