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Eagles Remain the N.F.L.’s Only Undefeated Team


PHILADELPHIA — A bronze statue of Coach Doug Pederson and quarterback Nick Foles stands outside the Philadelphia Eagles’ stadium — commemorating the Philly Special, a fourth-down play that helped the 2017 team win the franchise’s first Super Bowl title after over a half-century of shortcomings.

Pederson, the starting quarterback for the Eagles in 1999, was beloved in Philadelphia after that win: Fans were enamored along with his gutsy play-calling and embrace of town’s underdog mentality. (Some fans got “Philly Special” tattooed somewhere on their bodies.) But Pederson’s grace in Philadelphia quickly evaporated, and he was fired three years later, after a four-win season in 2020.

On Sunday, Pederson headed back to Lincoln Financial Field for the primary time since 2020, this time as the top coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars. He was greeted by deafening cheers because the 2017 Super Bowl banner was shown on the stadium’s video screen. The applause was surprising, considering it got here from a fan base that rarely celebrates anyone not wearing the Eagles’ midnight green.

Roars from the Eagles’ white-knuckled fans donning green ponchos and sweatshirts due to pouring rain continued throughout the sport, but they were for the Eagles, who beat the Jaguars, 29-21. The win moved the Eagles to 4-0, keeping them because the lone undefeated team within the N.F.L.

The Eagles have been one of the crucial surprising teams within the N.F.L. this season, mainly due to how they’ve beat opponents. Philadelphia has been buoyed by Jalen Hurts, who last yr looked as if it would lack the discernment and throwing power needed from a long-term starting quarterback but this yr has been amongst the very best within the league.

Hurts was the N.F.C.’s offensive player of the month in September. He made throws he didn’t seem able to until this season and led the league in multiple passing categories while also thrashing teams along with his running.

But on Sunday, when the rain and nearly 20-mile-per-hour winds broke many umbrellas and the wet field made creating space arduous, passing was hard to return by. On the Eagles’ first drive, Hurts threw a pass behind receiver DeVonta Smith that was tipped, intercepted and returned for a touchdown. So the Eagles relied on the running game first with Hurts, who bulldozed a defender within the second quarter on the approach to a rating, after which with running back Miles Sanders, who had the very best rushing game of his profession: 134 yards on 27 carries and two touchdowns.

“I do know half the league is people from the South,” said Sanders, who grew up in Pittsburgh. “But I do know when it gets cold, Southern players don’t wish to tackle, so I like these games.”

Essentially the most successful teams within the N.F.L. are typically people who can thrive regardless of the weather: the warmth in Miami, the altitude in Denver, the snow in Green Bay. What the Eagles completed Sunday makes them appear to be a team that’s doing rather more than experiencing a lucky stretch.

While the Eagles’ offense chugged along, the Jaguars’ offense stalled, and appeared to be rather more affected by the weather. Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence turned the ball over five times, including 4 fumbles. And the Jaguars’ offensive stars dropped passes and couldn’t seem to search out their footing on the wet field. Hurts’s interception was the Eagles’ lone turnover, and their players made cuts rather more effectively than the Jaguars (2-2) did.

“He knows how necessary it’s to handle the football,” Eagles Coach Nick Sirianni said of Hurts. “You realize because that’s such a key. It’s such a key to winning and losing games, and I feel that even elevates without it when it’s messy outside.”

Lawrence was frustrated after the sport, saying he knew he let the team down, and Pederson said it was clear the weather had an impact on him.

“We are able to’t turn the ball over five times like we did and expect good things to occur,” Pederson said. “We’re going to be in games like this where the conditions aren’t going to be favorable. We just must do our part to hold on to the ball.”

And though the weather affected Lawrence and the Jaguars had turnover issues, the Eagles’ defensive position swarmed Lawrence in ways the Jaguars defense couldn’t reciprocate. The Philadelphia defense was led by defensive end Haason Reddick, who sacked Lawrence two times, forcing him to fumble on each occasion, including one to seal the sport. And Reddick took offense to the concept weather had a major impact on the Eagles’ defensive performance.

“Why would we sit here and make weather an excuse for anybody?” Reddick asked, adding: “We got here out here and played in the identical exact weather they did. No person was talking about weather they went up, 14-0, on us, was they?”

Reddick added: “We all know where we could be, you understand, we all know what we will do. It’s only a matter of going on the market and doing it. It doesn’t really matter if we don’t execute.”

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