PHILADELPHIA - Committing to the run has made the Philadelphia Eagles a better team.
The Eagles rushed for 214 yards in a convincing 30-13 win at Denver on Sunday. They’ve surpassed 175 yards rushing three straight games, including 200-plus in both of their victories.
Overall, they have 626 yards rushing in those games, an average of 208.7 per contest. They had 817 in the first seven games, an average of 116.7 per.
"We just want to do what we think is best for us to win each football game and that always starts with what you think you do well first," coach Nick Sirianni said Monday. "And then it goes into the team’s scheme that you're playing and their players. We’ve known we’ve had a good offensive line the whole time. We’ve always wanted to get the run game going to help Jalen (Hurts) be more successful as a quarterback, because that takes some of the pressure off him."
At 4-6, the Eagles are only one game behind Carolina (5-5) for the third wild-card spot and they already beat the Panthers, so they hold a tiebreaker. They’re 1 1/2 games behind New Orleans (5-4) for the second wild-card spot and host the Saints this week.
The schedule is favorable for Philadelphia the rest of the way. The Eagles don’t have to fly again in the regular season. Their last three road games are train rides away to New York and Washington. The combined record of their remaining opponents is 26-37.
The return to running has coincided with the loss of top back Miles Sanders. It’s allowed Hurts to flourish. The second-year pro had an excellent first half against the Broncos before the Eagles used the run game to milk the clock in the second half.
"All I see is improvement every day from him because it starts with the type of person that Jalen is and how much he loves this sport, and how much he loves his teammates and how tough he is. And he doesn’t make the same mistake twice," Sirianni said. "I just see his arrow completely pointed up."
The Eagles are now the No. 1 rushing team in the NFC. Jordan Howard and Boston Scott have been productive in Sanders’ absence and the offensive line is able to dominate the line of scrimmage on run plays.
The run defense allowed 5.3 yards per carry on 18 attempts by the Broncos, who had to throw the ball most of the second half after falling behind by double digits.
Hurts has been improving steadily. Over the past three games, he leads all quarterbacks with 186 yards rushing and is second with a 102.6 passer rating.
Defensive end Derek Barnett had two penalties, including roughing the passer. He also had a sack. He has six penalties and two sacks this season.
Tight end Dallas Goedert is in concussion protocol after taking a helmet-to-helmet hit by Denver safety Justin Simmons.
0 — The Eagles are 0-4 at home, 4-2 on the road.
The Eagles host the Saints on Sunday. Hurts made his first career start against them last year, leading Philadelphia to a 24-21 upset win.