Tight end Tyler Higbee ran a route across the formation and then sprinted upfield, creating at least five yards of separation between him and the nearest Eagles defender.
Higbee easily caught the 28-yard pass for a score, wound up his arms in a circular motion, took an opera bow and then spiked the ball as teammates congratulated him for his third touchdown of Sunday's 37-19 win at Philadelphia.
“When he made the play call and I heard the play I thought, ‘Oh, this might be six,’ ” Higbee said after the game. “I was kind of running out of celebrations there.”
Higbee’s hat trick drew a stark contrast to the Eagles’ normally reliable duo of tight ends. Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert posted a combined 72 receiving yards and no scores. Higbee caught three touchdowns on five catches for 54 yards.
“It’s kind of what you expect,” coach Sean McVay said of Higbee’s performance. “He did a great job.”
Ertz and Goedert both scored in the Eagles’ opening loss at Washington, and Goedert tallied 101 yards on eight catches. Ertz, a three-time Pro Bowler, is considered one of the best tight ends and caught eight touchdown passes during the Eagles’ Super Bowl run in 2017.
Defensive coordinator Brandon Staley said last week that he respected both and his unit needed to play physically with them. His defense heard the message.
“We did a good job getting a hand on those guys,” said inside linebacker Micah Kiser, who produced 16 tackles and a forced fumble. “That was an emphasis all week. ‘If you see No. 86, get your hands on him. If you see No. 88, get your hands on him. It wasn’t always perfect, but we came out with a win, and that’s all that matters.”
Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz targeted the tandem 15 times for nine catches, but the Rams contained them well.
With eight minutes left, Wentz threw a pass to the Goedert’s back shoulder but he couldn’t haul in a one-handed catch. He attempted to twist his body to the ball, but Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey was in good position.
Two plays later, on fourth and two, safety John Johnson broke up a pass intended for Goedert, causing a turnover on downs. Perhaps Wentz’s biggest mistake was failing to see Goedert open in the end zone near the start of the fourth quarter, forcing the Eagles to settle for a field goal.
That wasn’t the case for Goff, who connected with Higbee on all five of his targets. Higbee's other two touchdowns — of four and three yards — came from close range on shallow routes toward the pylon.
“We’re really just playing poised and finding him,” said receiver Robert Woods, who scored a rushing touchdown. “Jared put a nice touch on the ball and right now he can’t be stopped.”
Higbee caught as many touchdowns Sunday as he did all last season. The tight end played well in the second half of the season, catching at least seven passes in the final five games. Woods said he thinks Higbee’s momentum is carrying over and he’s happy to see it.
“Higbee’s been dominant,” Woods said. “The end of last season really showed his ability and he’s just starting where he left off.”
Morgan reported from Los Angeles.