PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A.J. Brown had already caught three touchdown passes and was running toward his fourth when — boom! — he got caught from behind and had to settle for a mere 43-yard gain.
“My teammates gave me a hard time for that,” Brown said, laughing. “I definitely felt like I was going to score. (The defender) did a good job of swiping my legs and getting me down. I was upset. I think that was the first time I got caught in the NFL.”
Brown and the Eagles could afford the chuckle after a 35-13 laugher Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers that moved the only undefeated team in the league to 7-0.
Only an epic collapse could keep Philadelphia from an NFC East title. Only serious injuries could derail what should be a serious run toward the Super Bowl.
Why should the Phillies and Union have all the fun?
Jalen Hurts threw three touchdown passes to Brown in the first half and finished with 285 yards and four TDs overall. Brown had six receptions for 156 yards. The Eagles are 7-0 for the second time in franchise history, joining the 2004 team that reached the Super Bowl.
“I think we just want to be great,” Brown said.
Eagles tackle Lane Johnson had a clear view of what impressed him most about Brown.
“Just catching those balls, and doing whatever the hell he wants to over the top,” Johnson said. “He just had a hell of a game. Just one of those games where I’m sitting back there blocking and I see the ball up there and I see him make catch after catch. Special player.”
Brown sparked laughter during the game when he taunted two fallen Steelers and pointed at each of them after his third TD catch of the first half.
“I just said, ‘One, two, it’s not enough,’” Brown said with a laugh.
Brown has been a huge hit in first season with the Eagles after he was acquired in a draft-day deal with the Titans. Tennessee wasn’t interested in making Brown one of the highest-paid receivers in the league. The Eagles bit, and now Brown has his money and an undefeated team.
The offense. The offense. The offense. That’s one point of emphasis for each of Brown’s touchdown catches in the first half. Hurts has developed into a genuine deep-ball threat and there’s no doubt his close relationship with Brown has played a part in the QB’s willingness to air it out. Hurts became the first Eagles QB to throw four 25-plus yard TD passes in a game since Norm Snead on Sept. 28, 1969 vs. Pittsburgh. Overall, he became the first NFL QB to accomplish the feat since Patrick Mahomes on Nov. 1, 2020 vs. the Jets.
Hurts has been thrilled that the Eagles are loaded with talented receivers that he can hit just about any time for a game-busting play.
“When I’m playing with them in the game I’m like, I got my popcorn ready after I throw them the ball,” he said. “I want to make sure I do my job to get them the ball and then I can be a fan and watch them go to work. I think that’s just a testament to them. I think for us, it looks differently by the day but we always prepare together and we always go onto the field and go into a game and try and be on the same page and I think that’s allowed us to be productive.”
WHAT NEEDS HELP
There are few knocks on the Eagles — did you hear they are undefeated? — but special teams continues to be a sore point. The Steelers picked up a first down on a fake punt and Philly’s return game has been a nonfactor.
Much like Hurts does, let’s try and spread the ball around. Tight end Dallas Goedert caught six passes for 64 yards and is on pace for more than 1,000 yards receiving. He has yet to have a breakout game like the Eagles’ wide receivers but it’s hard not to feel like his time is coming. On the other side of the ball, defensive tackle Javon Hargrave had two sacks and forced a fumble that led to a touchdown.
It’s hard to find a player or two doing much of anything wrong.
First-round pick Jordan Davis left the game late in the first half with an ankle injury. The run-stopping defensive tackle was driven to the locker room on a cart.
10 — Hurts has won 10 straight regular-season starts, the longest such streak in franchise history and the longest active streak in the NFL.
All that’s missing in Houston is the Rocky statue to make all the fans that flocked to the city feel like they’re home. The Eagles play Thursday at Houston and the Phillies, their sports complex neighbors, could return Friday and Saturday for Games 6 and 7 of the World Series.