PHILADELPHIA — The biggest storylines from Friday’s preseason game between the Eagles and Jets were centered on both team’s quarterbacks, but for very different reasons. Eagles fans were celebrating Jalen Hurts’ perfect night, while Jets fans were distraught after watching Zach Wilson leave the game with a knee injury. The Jets, despite losing Wilson and falling behind by double digits early, rallied to post a 24-21 win.
Led by Hurts, the Eagles found the end zone on the game’s first possession. Philadelphia was back in the end zone minutes later after the Eagles’ defense picked off Wilson, who left the game on New York’s ensuing possession. New York weathered the storm, however, scoring 17 unanswered points to take the lead midway through the fourth quarter. The Jets’ go-ahead scoring drive was spearheaded by receiver Lawrence Cager, whose receptions of 29 and 11 set up Chris Streveler’s one-yard touchdown pass to tight end Jeremy Ruckert.
Philadelphia responded by mounting an 18-play drive that included Reid Sinnett’s fourth-down completion to tight end Noah Togiai that kept the drive alive. The completion helped set up Sinnett’s two-yard touchdown pass to Kennedy Brooks with 1:40 left. The Jets, as they did throughout the second half, fought back, as Zonovan Knight’s 52-yard return on the ensuing kickoff gave New York excellent field position for their final drive. New York took advantage of the short field, as Streveler hit Calvin Jackson in the end zone for the game-winning score with 16 seconds left.
Here’s a rundown of the biggest takeaways from Friday night’s showdown in Philadelphia.
Hurts’ ‘perfect’ game
Hurts’ preseason debut couldn’t have gone much better. He went a perfect 6 of 6 for 80 yards while recording a perfect passer rating of 158.3. Hurts capped off his only drive of the night with a 22-yard touchdown strike to Dallas Goedert. Hurts started the drive with a 28-yard completion to Quez Watkins. The drive also included 12 and eight-yard completions to running back Miles Sanders.
The only negative from Hurts’ evening was when he received a nasty hit by Quincy Williams, who hit Hurts after he was already out of bounds. The hit was not flagged, which drew the ire of Eagles coach Nick Sirianni.
The Jets’ second-year quarterback left the game with just over four minutes remaining in the first quarter. The injury occurred on a seven-yard run by Wilson, who cut hard on his right knee before falling to the turf.
Wilson went 3 of 5 for 23 yards that included an ugly interception to Eagles linebacker Kyzir White. The pick set up the Eagles’ second touchdown, a one-yard plunge by running back Jason Huntley. New York finally found the end zone midway through the third quarter, when Zonovan Knight found pay dirt from two yards out.
Jordan Davis and Nakobe Dean wreaked havoc during their college days together at Georgia. The former Bulldogs were back to their old ways on Friday night, as they worked in concert against New York’s offense.
The duo’s ability to feed off of each each was on display late in the first quarter. On a Jets’ running play, Dean wrapped up the ballcarrier behind the line of scrimmage after Davis blew up the right side of the Jets’ offensive line.
Two key members of Georgia’s 2021 national championship team, Davis and Dean join an Eagles defense that was 11th in pass defense and ninth against the run last season.
Battle of notable backups
Both teams boast notable backup quarterbacks in Mike White and Gardner Minshew. White, who threw for over 400 yards in his first regular season start (a win over the eventual AFC champions Bengals), went 10 of 20 for 98 yards on Friday night while quarterbacking the Jets’ first touchdown drive. On the drive, White completed a pair of third-down completions to Denzel Mims, a former second-round pick who is hoping for a breakout 2022 season.
Minshew, has 41 touchdowns and just 12 picks in 27 regular season games, was 8 of 12 for 81 yards in three series of work. Minshew’s second completion, a nine-yard strike to former Colts wideout Zach Pascal, set up the Eagles’ second touchdown.
Who says kickers aren’t athletes? Don’t tell that to Jets kicker Braden Mann, who raced down the field to tackle Eagles running back Jason Huntley after kicking off following New York’s first touchdown.
Mann has made big tackles before. During his rookie season, Mann made a game-saving tackle to help the Jets preserve their three-point win over the Rams. The former Ray Guy Award winner led the NFL in punt return yards that season.