Jalen Hurts hasn’t played well in the playoffs, college or pro. Will that change in the Super Bowl?

PHOENIX. Jalen Hurts has never performed well in playoff games. Not in the NFL. Not in college.

Considering his Philadelphia Eagles play in the Super Bowl on Sunday against Kansas City, it might not matter. Hurts was clearly good enough.

Or maybe Philadelphia will need more of him to get past Patrick Mahomes, who has certainly come up to play his best ball in the most important games from time to time.

Or maybe after nearly two weeks of breaking everything down, even an MVP candidate might become a question mark.

What cannot be denied are the numbers.

In three NFL playoff games, Hurts combined 54-of-92 (58.7 completion percentage) for 533 yards (177.6 average) with three touchdowns, two interceptions and four sacks. He also rushed for 37.3 yards per game and hit twice.

His best game included 16-of-24 passes for 154 yards and two touchdowns against the New York Giants in an NFC divisional game last month.

These figures have not gone unnoticed. San Francisco 49ers kicker Robbie Gould there was such an assessment of Hurts this week: “If you get Jalen Hurts to play quarterback, you’ll have a pretty good day on defense.”

He was no better in college. In 2019, while playing for Oklahoma, he went 15 of 31 for 217 yards and an interception in the college playoff semifinals in a loss to LSU.

In 2017, while playing for Alabama, he completed 16 of 24 passes for 120 yards and two touchdowns in a semi-final victory over Clemson and then struggled to pass 3 of 8 for 21 yards in the first half of the national title game against Georgia. Tide head coach Nick Saban famously pulled him at halftime and put Tua Tagovailoa in the game.

In 2016 at Alabama, he completed 7 of 14 passes for 57 yards in the semi-final victory over Washington, but then only 13 of 31 for 131 yards and a touchdown in a title game lost to Clemson.

That’s a cumulative 50 completion percentage for 109.2 yards in five college playoff games.

His best “postseason” performance came in 2018 when he came on as a substitute in the SEC title game for Tagovailoa and went 7 of 9 for 82 yards and a touchdown to help defeat Georgia.

These are the performances of three different teams at two different levels of football, so trying to combine them may not mean anything. And no one thinks that Hurts is capable of igniting the game.

However, while he didn’t make it to the playoff game, he didn’t make it to the playoff game.

Between his college football career and the NFL, Jalen Hurts never played well in the playoffs.  (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Between his college football career and the NFL, Jalen Hurts never played well in the playoffs. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

Sunday is his chance to rewrite that narrative or prove that he is the big game player his talent speaks for. Playing on the bench in the championship was a defining moment in his career until he completely rewrote the script this season. There is no reason not to finish the job with great effort in the Super Bowl.

For what it’s worth, there’s little doubt among the eagles. They don’t see a player who struggles in tense situations.

“He’s a guy who’s not afraid to play big,” cornerback Darius Slay said. “Some quarterbacks like to be safe. He is not. he can dribble in 15 games and do everything that makes him so special.”

You don’t necessarily need a quarterback to play well and win the Super Bowl. Baltimore beat Dallas after 3 of 9.88 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions from Johnny Unitas. Of course, it was 1970. Now the game is a little different.

In 2000, Trent Dilfer was 12-of-25 for 123 yards and a touchdown, and Baltimore was still beating the Giants. Philadelphia’s defense may not be as good as that team under Ray Lewis, but it’s fair to say that the Eagles’ most important player may be Haason Reddick, who is tasked with chasing Mahomes.

Philadelphia’s first Super Bowl was won five years ago by journeyman Nick Fowles, who played brilliantly, well above his regular season norms. He completed 28 of 43 passes for 373 yards and three touchdowns, and also caught a TD pass after suggesting the Eagles pull a daring ploy (the “Philadelphia Special”) with the fourth goal. The Eagles never hit or flipped the ball and thus were able to beat New England 41–33 despite Tom Brady’s 505 passing yards.

“The stage is never too big for him,” tight end Zak Ertz said of Fowles that evening.

It’s not fair to question Hurts and the scene right now. The NFL sample size is too small, and two wins in Philadelphia this year were so lopsided that he wasn’t asked to do much as he came back from injury.

Although, most likely, he will be asked on Sunday. It’s one thing for the Eagles to knock out a San Francisco team with virtually no quarterbacks in the NFC Championship. Mahomes is a completely different challenge.

This is the scene. These are the stakes. And this is an opportunity for Jalen Hurts to answer one of the last questions about him as a player.


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