DeVonta Smith celebrated his 23rd birthday in style, leading the Philadelphia Eagles in a 30-13 rout of the Denver Broncos. Smith finished with four catches for 66 yards and the two touchdowns -- becoming the first Eagles rookie with multiple receiving scores in a game since Jordan Matthews in 2014.
Smith's two touchdown catches helped the Eagles build a commanding lead as their run game took over in the second half. The Eagles had three players rush for over 40 yards for the third consecutive week -- en route to 214 yards on the ground on the afternoon. Jordan Howard led Philadelphia with 13 carries for 83 yards while Boston Scott finished with 10 carries for 58 yards. Jalen Hurts -- who completed 16 of 23 passes for 178 yards with two touchdowns and an interception -- also had 14 carries for 53 yards. Hurts threw just three passes in the second half.
While Smith and the running game were a key factor in the Eagles offense, Philadelphia's defense held Denver to 1-for-11 on third down and 1-for-5 in the red zone. After allowing Justin Herbert to complete over 80% of his passes the week prior, Teddy Bridgewater completed 22 of 36 passes (61.1%) for 226 yards with no touchdowns and no interceptions. The Broncos were just 1 of 5 in the red zone on the afternoon.
Hurts threw his 10th touchdown pass in the red zone this season when he found Smith to give Philadelphia a 17-10 lead with 3:07 left in the second quarter, a lead the Eagles kept through the rest of the game. A dropped ball in the end zone by Quez Watkins with 10 seconds to play in the second quarter cost the Eagles a touchdown, but Jake Elliott hit a 52-yard field goal to extend the lead to 20-10. The Broncos rallied from a 10-0 first quarter deficit thanks to their power running game. Melvin Gordon had a 1-yard touchdown run early in the second quarter to make it 10-7, Denver's lone touchdown of the game.
Takeaways are coming from this game shortly, so keep this browser pinned to the live blog below for a recap from this one!
Why the Eagles won
The Eagles were able to run the ball for 214 yards and average 5.4 yards per carry (including kneel-downs), but the much-maligned defense deserves credit. Philadelphia held Denver to just 13 points, 1-for-5 in the red zone, and 1-for-11 on third down. The defense committed the turnover on fourth down that sealed the outcome of the game, a forced fumble by Davion Taylor that led to a touchdown by Darius Slay and held the Broncos to four three-and-outs-- two in the fourth quarter. Denver had 185 yards in the second half, yet scored just three points.
Why the Broncos lost
Bridgewater wasn't feared by the Eagles defense -- and there was a good reason why. Bridgewater wasn't effective on his down field throws and missed open receivers. He completed 61.1% of his passes, taking the checkdown throws and playing into the hands of Jonathan Gannon's scheme. The Broncos were 1-for-11 on third down and 1-for-5 in the red zone as a result. Take away a 61-yard pass and Bridgewater averaged just 4.3 yards per attempt.
Denver ran the ball efficiently (5.3 yards per carry), but Bridgewater couldn't bring them from behind. The defense is at fault, too, as the Broncos allowed 214 yards on the ground after allowing just an average of 98 rushing yards per game coming in. Philadelphia dominated a depleted Denver line in the trenches -- and it showed throughout the afternoon.
Davion Taylor and Darius Slay deserve the credit for making sure the Eagles' defense sealed the victory. Facing a fourth-and-1 on the Eagles' 23-yard line, the Broncos were gashing the Eagles defense on the ground and were facing a 20-13 deficit with 14 seconds left in the third quarter.
Denver handed the ball off to Melvin Gordon on a counter play, but Taylor stripped Gordon before he got to the first-down marker and Slay was able to pick up the loose ball and take it 83 yards the other way for the touchdown. The Eagles took a 27-13 lead to close the quarter and preserved the win thanks to Slay's second touchdown in his last three games (he had just one score in his first 125 career games).
This was "play of the game" material, yet gave the Eagles the victory they needed on the road to stay in the NFC playoff race.
Play of the game
DeVonta Smith's first touchdown catch was the best reception of his young career, reading a perfect throw from Jalen Hurts that gave Philadelphia a 10-0 lead with 3:16 left in the first quarter. Hurts took a run-pass option and had all day to throw a perfect pass to Smith -- who was covered by Alabama teammate Patrick Surtain in the end zone.
Surtain made a good read on the throw, but Smith beat him on the jump ball and got both feet in. The 36-yard touchdown catch was the longest by an Eagles rookie since Mack Hollins in 2017.
Smith is also the first Eagles rookie to have two touchdown catches on the road since Fred Barnett in 1990.
"A win. That's all I wanted." -- Eagles wide receiver DeVonta Smith when asked if he got anything special on his birthday.
Smith turned 23 years old Sunday and had the first multi-receiving touchdown game of his career. He finished with four catches for 66 yards and two scores and played a major role in Philadelphia building a first-half lead over Denver. Smith has nine catches for 182 yards and three touchdowns over the last two games.
The Eagles (4-6) will face the New Orleans Saints in Week 11 as they seek their first home win of the season. The Broncos (5-5) head into their bye week before facing the Los Angeles Chargers at home in Week 12.