This was supposed to be a test.
The Tennessee Titans were considered a little too physical, a little too stubborn to be bullied and pushed around by the Eagles. They were going to be a pre-postseason examination for next month’s playoffs against a style that travels well on cold, hard grass with an established rushing attack and strong run defense.
If the Titans were all those things, the Eagles will be playing well into January and possibly February. They dominated a team many believed that they wouldn’t, pounding the Titans, 35-10, on Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field.
It moved the Eagles to 11-1 for the fourth time in franchise history (1949, 1980, 2004), buoyed by Jalen Hurts’ season-high 380 yards and three touchdowns, while rushing for another.
The Titans’ victory could be used as a template for what the Eagles could possibly face next month in the NFC playoffs against the San Francisco 49ers, who run a similar style to the Titans of a run-oriented offense that depends on a suffocating run defense.
None of that seems to matter to the Eagles.
They can beat you a variety of ways.
In last week’s 40-33 victory over Green Bay, the Eagles gouged the Packers for 363 yards rushing—including Hurts’ franchise single-game record game-high 157 yards rushing from a quarterback.
Against Tennessee, the Eagles amassed 453 yards of total offense—386 coming through the air.
A.J. Brown scorched his former team with eight catches for 119 yards and two touchdowns, the first coming when he plowed over Titans’ corner Kristian Fulton on a 40-yard TD with 13:55 left in the half. The other when Brown somehow managed to catch on a 29-yard, third-quarter touchdown reception wearing Titans’ cornerback Tre Avery on his shoulders.
When Brown was double-teamed early, Hurts found DeVonta Smith, who caught three passes for 59 yards on the opening drive. The first two receptions got the Eagles going, initially with a 20-yard catch on a third-and-eight at the Eagles’ 27, and his 34-yard touchdown reception gave the Eagles a 7-0 lead.
Smith finished with five catches for 102 yards.
Defensively, the Eagles sacked Titans’ quarterback Ryan Tannehill six times and holding powerback Derrick Henry to 30 yards on 11 carries, averaging a scant 2.7 yards a carry when the Eagles did not particularly play clean.
The Eagles were flagged 12 times for 80 yards, many false starts coming on the offensive line in the first half.
Still, the miscues could not deter what the Eagles established in the first half. In getting out to a 21-10 lead, they pounded Tennessee for 300 total yards, averaging 8.6 yards a play.
What’s interesting is that on the Eagles’ first six drives, they scored on three of them, and were so efficient on first and second down that they faced only four third-down situations.
The Eagles ran off 35 plays, though ran the ball eight times in the first two quarters, peppering Tennessee through the air to the tune of 263 yards. Tennessee had only given up 21 points or more twice this season, in its 21-20 season-opening loss to the New York Giants and a 24-22 victory over the Las Vegas Raiders in Week 3.
The Eagles scored the second-highest point total this season on the Titans, who had previously held eight-straight opponents to 20 or fewer points.
The special teams even chipped in, with big returns from Britain Covey and shutdown coverage on returns.
“Obviously, we played good in every phase of this game, offensively, defense, special teams,” Eagles’ head coach Nick Sirianni said. “Offensively, we had some things we had to clean up. Some pre-snap penalties that we have to clean up. We’ll get better from that. There are some ways we can do that and clean that up. But yeah, it was a pretty complete game for us, and that’s pretty good football team over there.”
Tennessee Titans (7-5) 7 3 0 0-10
Philadelphia Eagles (11-1) 7 14 7 7-35
Phila. – DeVonta Smith 34 pass from Jalen Hurts (Jake Elliott kick), 12:03
Tenn. – Treylon Burks 25 pass from Ryan Tannehill (Randy Bullock kick), 2:47
Phila. – A.J. Brown 40 pass from Hurts (Elliott kick), 13:55
Tenn. – Bullock 36 FG, 3:28
Phila. – Hurts 2 run (Elliott kick), :51
Phila. – Brown 29 pass from Hurts (Elliott kick), 12:07
Phila. – Miles Sanders 3 run (Elliott kick), 11:27