NFL News & Analysis

NFL Week 14 PFF ReFocused: Philadelphia Eagles 24, New Orleans Saints 21

Eagles' Jalen Hurts (2) carries the ball against the Saints Sunday, Dec. 13, 2020 in Philadelphia. Jl Eagles 121320 02

The Philadelphia Eagles raced out to a 17-point halftime lead and then hung on to beat the New Orleans Saints 24-21 in Jalen Hurts‘ first start.

Editor's note: All of PFF's grades and advanced stats from this game will be finalized and made available to ELITE subscribers within 24 hours of the final whistle.

Story Of The Game

Hurts helped the Eagles move the ball against a stout Saints defense, giving them the early 17-0 lead. The offense sputtered in the second half, but the halftime lead was enough to secure the win.

Philadelphia produced 0.23 expected points added (EPA) per play in the first half, their second-best mark in a first half this season. Hurts didn’t turn the ball over and threw for 129 yards, completing 12-of-21 passes and recording the first passing touchdown of his career in that half.

Importantly, he also added three scrambles for 45 yards and had four designed runs for 30 yards in the first half. It could be argued that Miles Sanders‘ 82-yard touchdown run was helped by Hurts being a threat to run and not allowing the Saints' linebackers to flow freely.

The second half was a bit of a different story, with the Eagles' EPA per play mark dropping to -0.15. How the Eagles were able to stay on track and build that lead had much to do with their offensive line. As a unit, they only allowed nine total pressures, their fourth-lowest in a game this season. Hurts was protected for most of the game, and if needed, he was also able to use his legs to avoid sacks. 

The first half was forgettable for the Saints. Their -0.40 EPA per play in the first half was not only their worst first half of the season, but it was also their worst showing since Week 13 of the 2018 season.

Taysom Hill completed 11 passes in that first half but for only 65 yards as the Saints couldn’t get anything going downfield. The three play-action passes the Saints used in the first half netted them a single completion for -6 yards and a Taysom Hill scramble for 3 yards.

Hill played much better in the second half, completing 74% of his passes for 229 yards and two touchdowns, but a fourth-down decision where he held onto the ball for too long and took a sack-fumble led to the Saints' ultimate demise.

Wide receiver Michael Thomas continued to be Hill’s favorite target, catching all eight of the passes thrown his way for 84 yards. Alvin Kamara was finally targeted by Hill, setting single-game highs in both targets and receptions for games will Hill as the starter under center.

Rookie Watch

Jalen Reagor played his most snaps in a game (52) since Week 11 against the Browns and responded with two catches on four targets for 46 yards, with all 46 coming after the catch. He also had a 19-yard rush.

Jack Driscoll played the whole game at tackle for the Eagles and held up nicely in protection. K’Von Wallace got 28 snaps for the depleted Eagles secondary, he wasn’t targeted. 

For the Saints, first-round pick Cesar Ruiz played 39 snaps, splitting time with Nick Easton. Malcolm Roach played 24 snaps and recorded two tackles. Adam Trautman’s snap count fell to 17 this week after 39 last week and a season-high 54 the week prior, but he did catch an 11-yard screen pass.

ELITE subscribers can view player grades, advanced statistics, positional snap counts and more in Premium Stats 2.0. 

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