‘It’s Like Having Michael Jordan Out There’ | Jalen Hurts Reportedly Is The First Alabama Quarterback To Win An NFL Playoff Game Since 1983

Jalen Hurts Leads Eagles To Win Over Giants In NFL Playoffs
(Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)

Jalen Hurts has led the Philadelphia Eagles to within one game of reaching the franchise’s second Super Bowl appearance in five seasons and their fourth overall.

Hurts and a dominant pass rush overwhelmed the rival New York Giants from the opening kickoff, to win the match 38-7 at a raucous Lincoln Financial Field. The win means the Eagles will host the San Francisco 49ers, who beat Dallas in the other NFC Divisional Playoff matchup.

Hurts returned to MVP form after dealing with a nagging shoulder injury the last few weeks of the season. The former Alabama and Oklahoma star directed the Eagles potent offense, displaying the leadership and poise that’s been the calling card of his breakout season.

Statistics Are Only Part Of The Story With Jalen Hurts

While Hurts’ numbers don’t jump off the screen, he did account for two touchdowns and over 200 yards of total offense. His presence on the field is the key. The threat of Hurts in the run and pass game allowed tailbacks Kenneth Gainwell and Miles Sanders to combine for 202 rushing yards and one touchdown on 29 carries.

Philadelphia Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni was so excited to have his QB back at full strength, that during his postgame presser he likened his effect to that of Michael Jordan.

“To have him out there is like — I know this is high praise — but to have him out there is like having — I shouldn’t even go there — but it’s like having Michael Jordan out there,”  Sirianni said. “He’s your leader. He’s your guy. Hopefully, that’s the biggest respect I can pay to him, comparing his ability to be on the field to a Michael Jordan type.

“This guy leads. He brings this calmness to the entire team. He plays great football. He’s tough as they come. To me, nobody has played better football than him this year.”

Is Jalen Hurts Healthy? 

Coming into the game the biggest question was just how healthy would Hurts be. The dual-threat star responded early with a deep ball to wide receiver DeVonta Smith, a Heisman Trophy winner and Hurts’ college teammate at Alabama. Hurts then showed he was all the way back on a nine-yard scamper where he wasn’t looking to protect that injured shoulder as he did in the Week 18 season finale win against this same Giants team.

How different was it when Hurts was healthy against the G-Men versus when he wasn’t?

In the two games he was at full tilt, the Eagles outscored New York, 86-29. 

Sirianni discussed that very topic postgame.

“We wanted to run the very best things that were best for us, knowing that Jalen was no limitations,” Sirianni said. “So if that was running him. We don’t think kind of like, ‘Hey we’re gonna show you guys.’ He was ready to go, and we did the things we thought was best for us.”

First Alabama QB to Win An NFL Playoff Game Since 1983

With the big win, Hurts reportedly became the first former Alabama quarterback to win a playoff game since 1983, when Richard Todd led the Dolphins to a 17-14 win over the Los Angeles Raiders in the divisional round. Though he played his last season at Oklahoma, Hurts received his bachelor’s degree in public relations at the University of Alabama and played his first two seasons there as a dominating dual-threat force. Now one game away from a Super Bowl appearance, Hurts knows his legs will be vital no matter who they face next week between the Cowboys or Niners — two sturdy and fast-flowing defensive units.

In Saturday’s game, Philly totaled 268 yards on the ground, and Hurts being a threat in the run game is a huge reason why. In his postgame presser, the always cool Hurts mentioned that.

“We all know that that adds an extra dynamic to what we can do,” Hurts said.

Now he’ll need that and a defense that led the league with 70 sacks — just two short of the NFL-record of 72 set by the 1984 Chicago Bears — to step up even more next week.