The Eagles and Jets are both starting over in 2021: New coaches, new starting quarterbacks and new expectations. On Friday night, they had another big similarity in their final preseason game of the year: The same score! Squaring off roughly three months before their scheduled regular-season matchup, Philadelphia and New York played to a 31-31 tie (preseason games no longer go to overtime), capped by a bomb of a last-minute Hail Mary touchdown pass by Jets backup James Morgan.
Here are some takeaways from Friday night's preseason finale for the Eagles and Jets:
Why the Eagles tied
Let's start with the good: Joe Flacco was sharp and steady behind good protection, finishing 13-of-16 for 188 yards and two touchdowns starting in place of the resting Jalen Hurts. He had little trouble getting the ball out quickly against his 2020 team, and rookie running back Kenny Gainwell (59 yards, 1 TD) was a big help as a multipurpose weapon. Veterans Boston Scott and J.J. Arcega-Whiteside also contributed big plays to help the Eagles go up 14 at one point. Now, the bad: Reserve cornerback Michael Jacquet stood out when he forced a fumble and scooped it and scored himself, but right afterward, he allowed Jets tight end Kenny Yeboah to reel in a game-tying Hail Mary. He was victimized earlier, too, as James Morgan let it rip in the second half. Philly also struggled to contain the run down the stretch, allowing Josh Adams, Ty Johnson and Jeff Smith to break off big gains.
Why the Jets tied
Again, let's go with the good stuff first: James Morgan, for all his unnecessary throws, did not give up and showcased his cannon of an arm, putting a laser on the Hail Mary TD to Yeboah. Early on, veteran journeyman Josh Johnson was efficient in limited action, going 7-of-8 for 73 yards and a TD as the official starter, with Zach Wilson and backup Mike White resting. On the ground, Adams and Johnson both looked worthy of roster spots, combining for 115 yards. The bad? Morgan was wildly inaccurate and/or risky for much of his time vying for the No. 3 QB job, going 13-of-23 through the air with a pick. Hardly any receivers stood out. And the defense was at least a step behind the Eagles' backups to open the game, despite Robert Saleh's supervision. With a more aggressive start to the game, or a more reliable finish, they could've easily stolen the victory.
In a tie game, how can it not be the moment James Morgan's rocket-armed bullet to the end zone somehow ended in Yeboah's arms, amid a cluster of Jets and Eagles bodies? It didn't seal the final score; New York still had to execute a two-point try. But it certainly confirmed that the Jets were not out of the mix. Good for them carrying some momentum, real or not, into the real games.
Play of the game
We'll give you two, because we know you're dying to soak up preseason highlights. First, Morgan's game-changing Hail Mary:
And then, just as proof that Joe Flacco is, in fact, still employed as an NFL QB, this beauty of a roll-out TD to Arcega-Whiteside:
The Eagles will open their 2021 regular season by visiting the Atlanta Falcons on Sept. 12. The Jets, meanwhile, will open their season the same day by visiting the Carolina Panthers (and old friend Sam Darnold) that afternoon.