Hurts, Eagles downplay 1st 8-0 start in franchise history

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — As the Phillies’ J.T. Realmuto crushed a deep drive Thursday in the ninth inning of a World Series game, Eagles players flocked to a screen in their locker room: “OOOOH! GET OUTTA HERE! GO! GO!” they shouted.

The ball looked like it had a chance at a big base hit. Alas, Astros center fielder Chas McCormick jumped high and banged into the chain-link fence to make a backhand catch and rob Realmuto. McCormick saved the Astros -- and denied Philadelphia its last best-chance at a Game 5 win.

Inside the locker room, huddled around a small TV, wide receiver A.J. Brown turned away in stunned disbelief. Cornerback Zech McPhearson put his hands on his head and could not believe the outcome.

For the first time all season, the Eagles felt deflated inside the room.

The only consolation? It came from watching another team play, not from the Eagles’ result on the football field.

No complaints there.

The Eagles inch toward midseason flying high at 8-0 for the first time in franchise history and the lone undefeated team in the NFL. Coach Nick Sirianni and many star Eagles like center Jason Kelce have watched the playoffs from Citizens Bank Park, and the crazed atmosphere has only put an exclamation point on just how good it can be in the city when a team is playing for a championship. Kelce knows as well as anyone, one of the few holdovers from that 2017 Super Bowl championship season that has reveled in one championship parade -- and so badly wants to slip a second Super Bowl ring on one of his fingers.

The Eagles are riding high on the arm of Jalen Hurts, who threw for 243 yards and two touchdowns and led the Eagles past the Houston Texans 29-17 on Thursday night. He won his 11th straight regular-season start, which is the longest active streak in the NFL.

The Eagles are the 29th team in the Super Bowl era to start 8-0 and the other 28 all made the playoffs. Fifteen of those teams went on to win their conference and eight won the Super Bowl.

“I know it’s special for the city of Philadelphia,” Hurts said. “I’ve been 8-0 before and lost a national championship. Just take it day by day. Take it day by day. We haven’t accomplished anything yet.”

Untrue.

Just because the ultimate goal is still months away, doesn’t meant the Eagles haven’t accomplished plenty in Sirianni’s second season.

Let’s take a look at the highs and lows of the season before the Eagles hit the midway point next Monday night at home against Washington.

WHAT’S WORKING

Hurts might be the MVP. Trailing the Texans 7-0, Hurts converted three third downs on an 18-play drive that led to the tying score.

“I think he has improved maybe more than every player in the NFL,” Texans coach Lovie Smith said. “Outstanding player. He can throw the ball. He is mobile. A big guy to bring down.”

WHAT NEEDS HELP

Special teams actually didn’t have a major mishap against the Texans but the unit remains the top sore point for the Eagles.

STOCK UP

TE Dallas Goedert Goedert had his fourth-career performance with 100-plus receiving yards, with eight catches for 100 yards and one touchdown. He reached 100 yards receiving for the first time this season.

“He’s big. He’s strong. He’s fast. He’s mean,” Sirianni said. “That’s why he’s so productive. You’re just seeing his game elevate. I hope what everyone is seeing on these nationally televised games is what we see every day in practice and what we’ve seen consistently through these past two years that Dallas Goedert deserves attention for being one of the best tight ends in the NFL.”

STOCK DOWN

Nadda. The Eagles are undefeated.

KEY NUMBER

5. C.J. Gardner-Johnson had his fifth interception of the season against the Texans and became the third Eagle since 1970 with that many picks through the first 8 games of a season. He entered the season with only five interceptions and is now the first Eagle to have one in four straight games since Bill Bradley in 1972.

NEXT STEPS

The 1972 Miami Dolphins are the only NFL team to have a perfect season. The 2007 New England Patriots started 18-0 until a loss in the Super Bowl. The Eagles’ schedule is pretty easy with three straight games against teams with losing records; Washington, Indianapolis and Green Bay before a Dec. 4 matchup against Tennessee. The Eagles still have two games left against the 6-2 and NFC East rival New York Giants.

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