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Jalen Hurts, DeVonta Smith put on a show as Eagles rout Falcons in Nick Sirianni's coaching debut

USA TODAY
USA TODAY
 2021-09-12

ATLANTA – So now we know.

For months, new Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni has kept his offensive schemes under wraps, determined to take what he called "a competitive advantage" into his first game as a head coach.

Then he unleashed it.

Quarterback Jalen Hurts, in his second season but first as the full-time starter, mixed in some timely runs – something the Eagles made sure they didn't show over the summer – with pinpoint passing.

Rookie DeVonta Smith's first reception went for a touchdown as the first-round pick from Alabama led the Eagles with 6 receptions for 71 yards. Miles Sanders benefited from Hurts' running ability by leading the Eagles with 74 yards on 15 carries.

In all, the Eagles' offense was too much for the Atlanta Falcons to handle as the Eagles rolled to a 32-6 win on Sunday.

Hurts masterfully led all of it. He was 27-for-35 passing for 264 yards and 3 touchdowns. His passer rating was 126.4. Hurts also ran for 62 yards on 7 carries.

https://img.particlenews.com/image.php?url=2b3slf_0bty04SJ00
Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts (1) breaks out of the pocket against the Atlanta Falcons during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 12, 2021, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson) Brynn Anderson, AP

The Eagles showed a balance rarely seen last season. They ran the ball 31 times, threw the ball 35 times.

It was more than enough for Sirianni to win the matchup of new coaches over the Falcons' Arthur Smith.

Midway through the fourth quarter, Falcons fans were streaming up to stairs to the exits as the throngs of Eagles fans streamed down to take their seats.

It began rather ominously for the Eagles, however. The Falcons drove the ball down the field on the opening possession, reaching the Eagles' 3 yard line before settling with a field goal.

The Eagles didn't need nearly as much time or plays as Smith's first career reception went for an 18-yard touchdown catch with 6:17 left in the first quarter. The TD was set up by Hurts showing something that he didn't all summer – a designed run.

He faked a handoff to Miles Sanders, then took off to the left, gaining 13 yards down to the Falcons' 24. A few plays later, Hurts lofted a touch pass over Smith's left shoulder for the touchdown.

Just like that, the Eagles led 7-3.

The Falcons had another long drive, this time getting as far as the Eagles' 2 before once again settling for a field goal.

Then the Eagles' defense stiffened and the offense went to work.

Hurts capped the first half with a 9-yard TD pass to Dallas Goedert with 2 seconds left, giving the Eagles a 15-6 lead at the break after the two-point conversion that followed a Falcons' penalty on the extra-point try.

During that drive, Hurts ran for 11 yards on 3rd-and-5 from the Atlanta 45, then he ran for 9 more down to the Falcons' 21 with about 45 seconds left.

The Eagles kept it going in the second half. Hurts got another rookie his first career TD on an 8-yard pass to running back Kenny Gainwell. The Eagles closed out the scoring on Hurts' 23-yard TD pass to Jalen Reagor with 4:20 remaining.

The defense, meanwhile, didn't allow the Falcons a single point after their second possession.

Javon Hargrave had two sacks, both on fourth-down plays in the fourth quarter with the Falcons desperately trying to get back into the game. Ryan, meanwhile, threw for only 164 yards.

The Eagles were that dominant.

This article originally appeared on Delaware News Journal: Jalen Hurts, DeVonta Smith put on a show as Eagles rout Falcons in Nick Sirianni's coaching debut

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