While it wasn't always the most cleanly played game, the Philadelphia Eagles opened up their 2022 season with a close 38-35 victory over the Detroit Lions. The offense was mostly clicking on all cylinders at a sold-out Ford Field, while the defense had its share of struggles to keep the Lions in the game. The Eagles now have the most season-opening wins in the NFL since 2011, as they are 10-2 in Week 1 games since that year.
It was a complete team effort, with Jalen Hurts leading the way with great decision-making. To start his second season as the starting quarterback, Hurts recorded 243 passing yards on 18-of-32 along with 90 yards and one touchdown on the ground over 17 carries. He proved that he can make great decisions and make something out of nothing on plays that look dire. The Lions were sending the house to throw off his timing but he was able to scramble and make plays with his legs. The Eagles first touchdown of the game came from the legs of Hurts, who walked in from one yard out with under a minute remaining in the first quarter.
All three of the active running backs found paydirt - Kenneth Gainwell, Miles Sanders, and Boston Scott. It was the first time since October 22, 1961 that the Eagles had four players record rushing touchdowns in the same game. Sanders was the leading rusher with 13 carries for 96 yards, and it was his first touchdown since Week 16 in 2020. Gainwell and Scott combined for just nine carries, while Gainwell also had two catches for 12 yards.
A.J. Brown welcomed himself to Philadelphia with an excellent debut for the Birds. He set the franchise record for most receiving yards in an Eagles debut with 155 of them on 10 receptions. Brown really helped open the offense up and give Hurts a new toy to play with. The former Titans' receiver should get a roaring ovation at the Linc next week for the Eagles home opener.
That being said, sophomore receiver DeVonta Smith was a non-factor as he was targeted just four times and didn't come down with one of them. It won't stay that way, as he will get more chances as teams start to focus on Brown. No other Eagles receiver or tight end had more than three catches, combining for eight receptions. Dallas Goedert recorded three catches for 60 yards. One of the best plays of the game was when Hurts threw a dime to Brown along the right sideline for a 54-yard completion. This play set up a Jake Elliot field goal to increase the Eagles' lead to 24-14 at halftime.
Defensively, the Eagles struggled to stop the run with D'Andre Swift going for 144 yards and one touchdown on 15 carries, including breaking off a 50-yard dash. But they did make big plays and came up clutch when they had to. The new duo of cornerback James Bradberry and linebacker Kyzir White came up big in the second quarter. White tipped a pass from Jared Goff intended for T.J. Hockenson and Bradberry came up with the interception before running 27 yards to the end zone. It was the former Giant's first pick six and 16th career interception.
Following the pick six, Swift responded with a seven-yard touchdown run to make it 21-14. The Eagles opened up the third quarter with a 10-play, 82-yard drive that ended in Gainwell's two-yard touchdown run. Amon-Ra St. Brown was another player on the Lions that the Eagles had trouble containing as he had eight catches for 64 yards and a touchdown. His touchdown capped a 14-play 75-yard drive in the third quarter on a big third down play to make it 31-21.
Philadelphia answered after recovering a Detroit onside kick attempt, with Scott running in from one yard out. When it seemed the Eagles were going to put the game away, the Lions still came back and scored on a 75-yard drive. It was the third straight 75-yard touchdown drive the Eagles gave up, as Swift ran for 25 yards and Jamaal Williams punched it in from the 1-yard line.
Fletcher Cox and Brandon Graham came up with a big third-down stop as they combined for the team's first sack of the season with less than 12 minutes left. But on the next drive, Goff found former Jaguars' receiver D.J. Chark for a 22-yard touchdown to finish off a 11-play, 72-yard drive. That made the game 38-35, with the city of Philadelphia sweating. Less than four minutes remained and the Eagles needed to run the clock down. They were successful, with Sanders rushing for 32 yards on three plays and Hurts ending the game with a sneak on 4th-and-1.
The Eagles' run defense will have to clean up moving forward as they can't allow big runs like they did with Swift. Jordan Davis should be more of a factor, as he didn't play many snaps. There is a short leash on defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon right now, as he has had tons of talent on his defense, with very minimal results.
One big thing to take away from this game was that the offensive line was able to maintain rookie edge rusher Aidan Hutchinson and essentially make him a no-factor. That shows how strong this offensive line can be, granted Hutchinson is only a rookie playing in his first game. Moving forward, the run game will look to be as dominant a force as it was in the opening game.
Next week, the Eagles open up Lincoln Financial Field for the first time this season, as they face the Minnesota Vikings. The Vikings opened their season up with a big 23-7 victory over the Green Bay Packers, with Justin Jefferson recording two touchdown catches.
Week 2: Philadelphia Eagles vs. Minnesota Vikings
Date: Monday, September 19th Start Time: 8:30 p.m. EDT Location: Philadelphia, PA
Stadium: Lincoln Financial Field TV Info: ABC