Jalen Hurts doesn’t mind tucking the ball and running. In fact, he embraces it. And that side of his game has thoroughly mystified opposing defenses throughout his three-year NFL career.
Hurts is fast, but he doesn’t quite have blazing speed. With a 40 time of 4.59 seconds, Hurts doesn’t quite reach the level of Lamar Jackson and Justin Fields. Still, what he lacks in speed, he makes up for in strength. Hurts is a bruising runner, unafraid to deliver blows to defenders.
In an NFC championship matchup Sunday against the daunting 49ers defense, Eagles coach Nick Sirianni made sure to tap into the well that is Hurts’ legs. The strategy paid off in spades.
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The NFL MVP finalist didn’t have the best game through the air, recording just 121 yards on 15 completions. But he was a nuisance on the ground.
He didn’t turn in the most aesthetically pleasing display of running — just 39 yards on 11 carries — but Hurts did keep San Francisco’s defense on its toes. And eventually, even the stout Gold Rush began to crack.
Thirty of Hurts’ 39 rushing yards came on one drive, the one that effectively put the game on ice. Hurts gashed San Francisco’s front seven as the third quarter came to an end, nabbing runs of 7, 12 and 14 yards. On the final carry, Niners defensive back Talanoa Hufanga was flagged for a late shove out of bounds, which moved Philly much closer to the end zone.
MORE: How the Eagles rode a dominant running game to Super Bowl 57
As Hurts has done time and time again, he made sure to end the drive in the end zone. He rocketed through the line to punch it in from a yard away for his 15th rushing touchdown of the year (regular season and playoffs).
Can’t stop the @JalenHurts QB sneak.
📺: #SFvsPHI on FOX
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— NFL (@NFL) January 29, 2023
— NFL (@NFL) January 29, 2023
Sirianni has been vocal about his insistence on getting Hurts involved in the run game, even when others have viewed it as detrimental to his star quarterback’s health. Hurts carried the ball 17 times vs. the Bears in Week 15, a game in which he suffered a shoulder sprain that kept him out for the next two weeks.
“For us to be the explosive offense that we want to be, Jalen is a very good passer, and he’s shown that he’s become a better passer each game that he plays. But he’s also in the MVP race, which in my opinion he’s played better than anybody in this league so far this year, and he’s in that MVP race because of his dual-threat ability,” Sirianni told reporters in December, per Sports Illustrated.
MORE: Eagles advance to Super Bowl 57 after outlasting injury-plagued 49ers
Sirianni has done everything in his power to get the most out of his young QB, and that, in turn, has opened up the field for Philly.
Great analysis here how Jalen Hurts as a run-threat freezes Fred Warner & 49ers defense to open up this run. Lamar Jackson also does this all the time & I wish this was shown more for dual-threat QBs so fans understand their true value that won’t show up in stats. #FlyEaglesFly pic.twitter.com/OHj8D2G6Nf
— ChuckModi (@ChuckModi1) January 29, 2023
No, Hurts didn’t exactly light it up Sunday afternoon, but his impressive mobility helped his team outpace a 49ers defense that had been anointed as the league’s best.
Nice run by Jalen Hurts and you can tell the #49ers are getting frustrated with today’s circumstances…super late hit herepic.twitter.com/ktKHSOmE4Q
— JPA (@jasrifootball) January 29, 2023