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Giants test Hurts tolerance, take third shot at rival Eagles

Jan 8, 2023; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts (1) reacts to a touchdown against the New York Giants during the first quarter at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

A healthy Jalen Hurts and the top-seeded Philadelphia Eagles begin their quest to send the franchise to its second Super Bowl in five years.

Enter longtime NFC East rival and the sixth-seeded New York Giants for the third game with Philadelphia since Dec. 11 on Saturday night.

The Eagles (14-3) drew the only bye in the conference by beating the Giants (10-7-1) in the regular-season finale Week 18. The Eagles swept the season series, though the Giants rested their starters for Week 18 with nothing to gain before the start of the playoffs.

“Every game’s a new game,” Giants coach Brian Daboll said. “One week really has nothing to do with the next week or one game has nothing to do with the next game, other than you take things from it. You learn from it. You try to grow from it. But it’s going to be how we execute on Saturday and how we prepare throughout the week.”

The Eagles locked up the No. 1 seed by beating the Giants 22-16 on Jan. 8. Hurts returned from a two-week hiatus and started that game despite an ailing shoulder to help Philadelphia secure home-field advantage.

The reward: Another week of rest for Hurts and his teammates. But Hurts was officially removed from the Eagles’ injury report Tuesday, as he was a full participant in practice.

Coach Nick Sirianni said Hurts was “better today than he was two weeks ago” after spraining his right (throwing) shoulder on Dec. 18.

Now the NFC’s best team from start to finish in 2022 turns its focus to the postseason.

“We put ourselves in this position by what we did all season, the consistency we had all season and the focus,” Hurts said. “The process remains the same … but the standard rises.”

Daboll needs no introduction to Hurts, even before they played twice this season. He spent the 2017 as an assistant at Alabama, when Hurts guided the Crimson Tide to the national title game only to be replaced in the first half by Tua Tagovailoa.

In the first meeting between New York and Philadelphia Dec. 11, a healthy Hurts and the Eagles blitzed the Giants. Hurts threw for 217 yards and two touchdowns while adding seven carries for 77 yards and another touchdown. Miles Sanders gashed the Giants for 144 rushing yards and a pair of scores in the 48-22 road romp.

The Giants have hit their stride since that game.

They squeaked into the playoffs for the first time since 2016 by defeating the Washington Commanders and routing the Indianapolis Colts. The wins prior to seeing the Eagles in Week 18 set the Giants up on a wild-card date with the Minnesota Vikings, who had beaten them Dec. 24 on a last-minute field goal.

The Giants got their revenge Sunday, winning 31-24. Daniel Jones threw for 301 yards and two touchdowns and added 78 yards rushing, while Pro Bowler Saquon Barkley ran for 53 yards and two TDs.

Jones became the first player in NFL history to reach 300 passing yards, two passing touchdowns and 70 rushing yards in a playoff game. Considered turnover-prone in his first three NFL seasons, he has thrown just one interception in his last 226 attempts since Nov. 20, counting regular season and playoffs.

New York’s defense will be better stocked than in the previous two games against Philadelphia. Defensive tackle Leonard Williams (2.5 sacks, two fumble recoveries) and cornerback Adoree’ Jackson (seven pass breakups, two fumble recoveries) missed both of those losses while injured but have since returned. Jackson clamped down on Vikings All-Pro Justin Jefferson in the wild-card game, limiting the receiver to one reception in the second half.

“I missed both games against them this year, so I’m super excited to play them,” Williams said. “We’re just going right down the street to play them.”

The geographic rivals have met in the playoffs four times, each club winning twice. It last happened when the sixth-seeded Eagles toppled the No. 1 seed Giants in the divisional round of the 2008 playoffs.

Both teams gave estimated injury reports Tuesday following walkthroughs. Jackson (back) was listed as limited for the Giants, as were linebacker/safety Landon Collins (ankle), receiver Isaiah Hodgins (ankle), safety Julian Love (hamstring), defensive back Fabian Moreau (hip) and linebacker Azeez Ojulari (quad).

Eagles cornerback Avonte Maddox (toe) did not practice. Tackle Lane Johnson (groin), defensive tackle Linval Joseph (calf) and defensive end Robert Quinn (back) were limited.

–Field Level Media