Jalen Hurts shines as Eagles roll past Falcons in season opener, 32-6


The Philadelphia Eagles’ success in 2021 will rely on Jalen Hurts’ ability to make plays and minimize turnovers on the offensive end. Hurts did exactly what was needed on Sunday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium to propel his team to a first win the new NFL regular season and hand Nick Sirianni a victory in his head coaching debut.

Hurts threw for 264 yards and three touchdowns while Miles Sanders totaled 113 combined yards as the Eagles earned a 32-6 road victory over the Atlanta Falcons. The Eagles also impressed defensively, limiting the Falcons to only 260 yards and six points for a dominant showing on the road.

Sirianni became the third-consecutive Eagles head coach to win his debut with the team, following in the footsteps of Chip Kelly and Doug Pederson.

“I want us to execute at a high level,” Hurts said postgame to reporters. “We worked very hard through practice this week to be ready for the opening game. We want to be consistent offensively. We will enjoy this result for 24 hours then get back after it to prepare for San Francisco.”

The Eagles held Atlanta to a 21-yard field goal on the opening drive of the game, but answered back with Hurts connecting with first round draft pick DeVonta Smith for an 18-yard score. Smith was left open in the left corner of the end zone, and made a strong catch to put the Eagles in front for a lead they wouldn’t relinquish on the afternoon.

Koo connected on his second field goal attempt of the game, this time cutting the Falcons deficit to 7-6 after nailing a 27-yard attempt.

Hurts capped a 12-play, 77-yard drive for the Eagles before halftime by finding tight end Dallas Goedert for a nine-yard score. Sanders would run in a two-point conversion attempt to put the Eagles up 15-6 at halftime and give them some breathing room heading into the second half.

With the defense still keeping Matt Ryan and Co. in check, the Eagles would pad their lead in the third quarter as rookie tailback Kenneth Gainwell scampered his way into the end zone for an eight-yard score. Gainwell’s first pro touchdown capped a six-play, 50-yard drive for Shane Steichen’s offense, continuing to keep Atlanta at bay.

Hurts tossed his third touchdown pass of the game as insurance, connecting with second-year receiver Jalen Reagor for a 23-yard touchdown. Reagor received a short pass and raced down the sideline for his first touchdown of the new season.

Jake Elliott added a 43-yard field goal with 1:14 remaining to cap the final score at 32-6, giving the Eagles fans plenty to cheer about in the 2021 season opener. Javon Hargrave (two sacks) and Hassan Ridgeway (one sack) totaled three sacks between them on the afternoon, headlining the strong defensive performance from the Eagles.

Smith showed bright moments in his regular season debut for the Eagles, finishing with 71 yards on six catches, tied for most on the offense.

Check out Merrill Reese’s calls on the touchdowns.

The Eagles will return to Lincoln Financial Field for a Week 2 showdown with the fellow 1-0 San Francisco 49ers.

You can follow Larry Henry on Twitter (@lhenry019) and e-mail him at lhenry1919@gmail.com.

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