newsjalen hurts throws four td passes three to a j brown in 35 13 eagles win

Jalen Hurts throws four TD passes, three to A.J. Brown, in 35-13 Eagles’ win

Scott Ratcliffe
Philadelphia Eagles
(© Andriy Blokhin – Shutterstock)

Philadelphia quarterback Jalen Hurts threw for 285 yards and tossed a career-high four touchdown passes — three of them to his favorite target A.J. Brown by halftime — as Pittsburgh was walloped, 35-13, by the Eagles Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field.

The underdog Steelers (2-6) were searching for their first win in Philadelphia in nearly 60 years, but instead lost for the sixth time in the last seven contests this season, thanks in part to nine penalties, a 1-for-12 performance on third-down conversions and other missed opportunities.

On the flip side, with the win, the Eagles moved to a perfect 7-0, matching their best start in franchise history (2004) to remain the only unbeaten team in the NFL. They’ll be shooting for their first-ever 8-0 start next week.

On Sunday, Hurts found Brown for a 39-yard score on Philadelphia’s initial drive to set the tone, getting the best of Pittsburgh safety Minkah Fitzpatrick on the play.

“I get paid to make plays on the ball, and I didn’t do that. That’s it,” a visibly frustrated Fitzpatrick said of the touchdown. He led the Steelers with 6 tackles (5 solo) on the day.

In his youth, Hurts’ counterpart, Pittsburgh rookie QB Kenny Pickett, would travel a little more than an hour from his home in New Jersey to watch the Eagles play on Sundays. Pickett’s dream of playing professionally came full circle, as he led a scoring drive — against his childhood squad — to tie the game late in the first quarter.

Rookie reserve place kicker Nick Sciba (Wake Forest) had originally come on for a short field-goal try on fourth-and-goal, but a delay-of-game call against Philly brought the Steeler offense back on the field, and Chase Claypool’s left-handed halfback pass from a yard out was caught by a diving Derek Watt in the end zone to make it 7-7 with 1:57 left in the opening period. Pickett completed his first six attempts to six different targets on the drive.

Hurts had an answer, again connecting with Brown for six — this time from 27 yards out over the top of Steeler cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon — to put the Eagles back on top to stay, 14-7.

“We’re not positioning ourselves to win games,” said Steelers coach Mike Tomlin of surrendering multiple, early big plays. “We didn’t today, and we’ve got to own that. Some fundamental things are falling short. We’ve got to keep a lid on it. If you don’t keep a lid on it in the NFL, you don’t give yourself a chance to play. We didn’t do that, and I thought it was a domino effect from there on.

“I thought our eyes weren’t in the right place defensively, and it’s capable of happening when you’re not keeping a lid on it.”

After a pair of ugly Pittsburgh three-and-out possessions that netted just a single yard (the second of which lasted just 25 seconds), Brown was back in the end zone, getting by not one, but two Steeler defenders — Fitzpatrick and Witherspoon — for the hat trick, and pushing the Philadelphia lead to 21-7 with 6:13 left until halftime. Brown led all receivers with 156 yards on only 6 grabs.

“That’s the difference,” Tomlin said. “They were making those plays and we were not. … We’ve got to make those plays. We’ve got to break those balls up or catch them on defense.”

Sciba, who was filling in for injured starter Chris Boswell (groin), knocked home his first career field goal just before the break, trimming Pittsburgh’s deficit to 11.

Pittsburgh committed 8 penalties in the first half and went just 1-for-7 on third down, a trend that continued into the second half.

Hurts wasted no time adding to the lead out of the locker room, hooking up with former Indianapolis Colt Zach Pascal for a 34-yard touchdown to extend Philly’s lead to 18 on the first possession of the third quarter, but the Steelers kept fighting.

A fake punt for a first down followed by another fourth-down conversion later on the ensuing drive led to a Sciba 29-yarder to make it a two-possession affair, 28-13, with 5:55 left in the third. Despite the third-down issues throughout the afternoon, Pittsburgh was ironically 4-for-4 on fourth-down conversions.

The Steelers defense then got a stop and forced a punt, but return-man Gunner Olszewski scooped up a loose ball near the end zone and barely avoided a safety with a special-teams blunder that pinned his team at its own 1-yard line.

Still, Pickett had the Pittsburgh offense on the move early in the fourth quarter, looking to get within one score. However, after advancing to the Eagles’ 36-yard line, Pickett was sacked and had the ball stripped by defensive tackle Javon Hargave, and Philly took control around midfield with 13:30 left.

Hurts immediately hit Brown for another big gain of 43, and then Miles Sanders delivered the final blow on the very next snap with an 11-yard touchdown run, as Philadelphia pulled most of its starters for the final 9:24 and ran out the clock.

To add insult to injury, a late Pickett pass that easily could have been a touchdown to make things more respectable deflected off of tight end Pat Freiermuth’s hands and into those of Eagles safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson in the end zone with 4:11 remaining.

“I’m a competitor, I want to win, so obviously it’s hard. It’s never easy,” Pickett said of another negative outcome. “Losing is never easy, so we’ve got to get it fixed and get back to it.”

Pickett finished with 191 yards passing (25-for-38), 37 yards rushing (7 carries), an interception and a pair of fumbles (1 lost), as he was sacked 6 times on the afternoon.

He admitted that he’s been frustrated by all the Steelers’ self-inflicted wounds, such as careless penalties and other mental mistakes. He added that the offense isn’t studying enough together as a unit in preparation, but he understands his voice needs to be louder moving forward as the leader of the young offense.

“It starts with me,” he said. “I’ve got to be more on my stuff, getting these guys right, and I’ll take ownership of it.”

Fellow rookie Jaylen Warren posted a team-high 50 yards rushing on just 6 carries to go with 25 yards through the air, while Freiermuth led the team in receiving with 57 yards on 4 catches.

The upcoming bye week couldn’t come at a better time for the Steelers, who will now have 14 days to regroup, get healthier and prepare for a home meeting with the 3-5 Saints on Nov. 13 (1 p.m., FOX) — and could very well have 2021 Defensive Player of the Year T.J. Watt off of injured reserve and back in uniform.

Watt, who’s missed the last seven games recovering from a pectoral issue and a knee surgery, was an active practice participant this week, but hasn’t been medically given the green light for a return to the 53-man roster.

With Watt on the field in Week 1, Pittsburgh racked up 7 sacks. In his absence, the Steelers had only registered 5 across the previous six games, but knocked Hurts down three times on Sunday.

Scott Ratcliffe

Scott Ratcliffe

Scott Ratcliffe has worked as a freelance writer for several publications over the past decade-plus, with a concentration on local and college sports. He is also a writer and editor for his father’s website,, dedicated to the coverage of University of Virginia athletics.