By DAN GELSTON AP Sports Writer
PHILADELPHIA — Jalen Hurts had 301 total yards in the first half in the breakout game of his young career, finishing with three total touchdowns as he led the Philadelphia Eagles to a 24-7 victory over the Minnesota Vikings on Monday night.
Trying to prove he is the franchise quarterback for the Eagles in his second year, Hurts looked downright unstoppable from the opening drive.
Hurts hit five receivers on 5-for-5 passing – highlighted by a 19-yard strike to A.J. Brown – and finished the drive himself with a 3-yard scoring run. In the opening win against Detroit, Hurts failed to complete a pass on five attempts and the Eagles turned the ball over on downs on the first drive of the game.
Turn the ball over on downs?
That seemed like just a rumor against the Vikings. The touchdown was just the liftoff for the 24-year-old Hurts throwing, running, imposing his will with all his available tools against a Vikings defense that could not solve him in his 21st career start. He finished with 333 yards passing and a touchdown and 57 yards and two scores on the ground.
On the first play of the second quarter, Hurts connected on a wide-open Quez Watkins for a 53-yard touchdown and the 14-0 lead.
Slay, who picked off a hapless pass by Kirk Cousins in the third quarter, had called each of the Eagles’ trio of talented receivers Batman.
There was, Brown, the “swole” Batman who had five catches for 69 yards; DeVonta Smith was the “skinny” Batman who had seven for 80 yards; and Watkins was the “fast” Batman who had the burners on for the easy score (and 69 total yards receiving).
Why are they all Batman?
“No Robins. We’ve got no sidekicks,” Slay said.
Hurts had one more play for the highlight reel with just under two minutes left in the first half. Hurts rolled to his right and scampered toward the end zone. He dragged two defenders with him, lowered his head and muscled his way in for a 26-yard touchdown that sent the crowd into a frenzy.
Jake Elliott kicked a 38-yarder and the Eagles took a 24-7 lead into halftime.
In a Week 2 full of improbable comebacks, perhaps it wasn’t wise to totally count out the Vikings.
But Cousins and wide receiver Justin Jefferson – famously passed over by the Eagles in the 2020 draft – never got anything going of substance against the Eagles and maligned defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon. Slay had his second interception of the game in the fourth quarter as the scoreboard soon flashed “Big Play Slay.”
Hurts had 50 yards rushing and 251 yards passing in the first half. Cousins finished the game 27 for 46 for 221 yards and three interceptions. Jefferson had six catches for 48 yards a week after he had 184 receiving yards and two touchdowns in a win against Green Bay.
Phillies slugger Bryce Harper (wearing an Eagles hat), 76ers guard James Harden (who was handed the ball by Slay after his first interception) and actor Bradley Cooper (wearing an Allen Iverson T-shirt) were among the jam-packed and fight-song singing crowd at the Eagles’ home opener.
Harden was pumped with his souvenir, posting an Instagram photo of his left hand holding the ball with the caption “Gimme That!” The Philadelphia 76ers star snapped selfies with fans before he left late in the game.
Dick Vermeil received his Hall of Fame ring at halftime. In his third season in Philadelphia, the coaching great led the Eagles to their first playoff appearance in 18 years. He guided the Eagles to their first Super Bowl appearance in the 1980 season only to lose to the Oakland Raiders, 27-10.
Vikings safety Harrison Smith was evaluated for a concussion.
Vikings: Return home Sunday to play the Lions.
Eagles: Start a reunion tour Sunday when they head out to play the Washington Commanders and former quarterback Carson Wentz. The Eagles return home on Sunday, Oct. 2 and play the Jacksonville Jaguars, led by Coach Doug Pederson. Wentz and Pederson, of course, played pivotal roles in helping the Eagles win the Super Bowl after the 2017 season.