PHILADELPHIA — A.J Brown pulled out a towel and wagged his finger at the goal post before he swatted the structure three times. The hard feelings didn’t last. Brown hugged the goal post and let bygones by bygones.
Oh, in case the allegory was missed during Brown’s celebration for the Philadelphia Eagles against his former team, the goal post in this instance stood in for the Tennessee Titans.
“Today, I’m going to have to give you this whooping,” Brown said with a laugh. “But I still love you, though.”
The Titans might not reciprocate the love after their former receiver torched them with eight catches 119 yards and two touchdowns on Sunday. Looking Brown’s way early and often, Jalen Hurts strengthened his MVP bid by throwing for 380 yards and three touchdowns and running for another score as Philadelphia beat Tennessee 35-10.
Hurts has led the Eagles to an 11-1 start, their first time with that record since 2004 and the fourth time in franchise history. The 1949 Eagles won the NFL championship. The 1980 and 2004 teams lost in the Super Bowl.
The Eagles look every bit like a team that can win the Super Bowl.
Hurts was all they really needed to inch closer to a playoff spot.
“We’ll leave all the MVP stuff to who votes for all that,” Brown said. “But he’s doing a great job leading this team. He’s a great leader. He’s still climbing. He wants the team to be great.”
The speedy, sure-armed QB set a career-high with 29 total touchdowns and had his third career game with four total TDs. His first half alone was a pretty good game for most quarterbacks: 268 yards passing and two touchdowns with one rushing score.
The Eagles‘ defense was first-rate, too, bottling up Derrick Henry - who had 11 carries for 30 yards - and limiting Ryan Tannehill to 141 yards passing and a touchdown. He was sacked six times. The Titans (7-5) lost their second straight but still have a comfortable lead in the AFC South.
After a field goal got Tennessee within 14-10 late in the second quarter, the Titans punted on five straight possessions before turning it over on downs.
“If we want to be a playoff team, we have to decide what we are going to do,” Titans safety Kevin Byard said. “What are we going to be? Leaders, coaches, everybody in this organization, we have to get this thing straight right now. We don’t have any time to lose. What are we going to do right now?”
It was inevitable that Hurts would look for Brown. Tennessee drafted Brown in the second round of the 2019 draft and he instantly became one of the top receivers in the game. He topped 1,000 yards receiving each of his first two seasons and had 869 in just 13 games in his third. But the Titans balked when Brown wanted a raise that would make him among the highest-paid receivers in the league and sent him to Philadelphia in a draft-night deal.
That trade was Philly’s first real win of the season.
Brown said he had wanted to retire a Titan and admitted he had the game circled on his calendar.
“It’s been personal since the trade,” he said. “I was just trying to keep it down. That’s where I wanted to be. Things just didn’t work out. It was like here, we don’t want you anymore.”
Brown has been better than advertised - and yes, the Eagles paid him a guaranteed $57 million. Fellow wideout DeVonta Smith had five catches for 102 yards.
With the game tied 7-all, Hurts and Brown connected on an apparent 40-yard TD pass that overturned because of a penalty. Brown had already hugged the goal post as part of his scoring celebration. No worries. Hurts came right back and hit Brown - who bowled over cornerback Kristian Fulton - for, yup, a 40-yard touchdown and a 14-7 lead.
Hurts threw a 34-yard TD pass to Smith on the game’s first drive and closed the first half with a 2-yard run for a 21-10 lead.
The next Hurts-to-Brown TD was a doozy. Hurts aired it out to the corner of the end zone and the ball skimmed cornerback Tre Avery’s facemask before Brown cradled it for the 29-yard score and a 28-10 lead in the third.
“That’s a big boy catch,” Hurts said. “That’s a grown man catch.”
Miles Sanders’ 3-yard TD run in the fourth made it 35-10 and the only suspense left was if Hurts would return for another drive. He didn’t. The game was out of reach. The best season in team history remains very much in sight.
The lone Titans touchdown came with at significant cost. Receiver Treylon Burks was evaluated for a concussion following a vicious helmet-to-helmet hit as he jumped to make the 25-yard TD catch from Tannehill in the first quarter that tied the game 7-all.
Eagles safety Marcus Epps was flagged for unnecessary roughness. Burks was on his back and players from both teams took a knee. The 22-year-old receiver eventually walked off on his own power and went to the locker room for treatment.
Titans: Burks, Fulton (groin) and LB David Long all suffered injuries.
Eagles: WR Quez Watkins (shoulder) and LB Shaun Bradley (hamstring) were hurt.
The Eagles were penalized 12 times for 80 yards and the Titans were penalized seven times for 82 yards.
Titans: Host Jacksonville on Sunday.
The Eagles play the first of three straight road games Sunday at the New York Giants. They follow by visiting Chicago and Dallas.
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