ATLANTA (AP)Jalen Hurts threw three touchdown passes, the first of them to Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith, and the Philadelphia Eagles made a winner of Nick Sirianni in his head coaching debut with a 32-6 rout of the hapless Atlanta Falcons on Sunday.
Now firmly entrenched as the Eagles starter after Carson Wentz was traded, Hurts certainly looked the part with touchdown passes of 18 yards to Smith, 9 yards to Dallas Goedert and 23 yards to Jalen Reagor.
Another Philadelphia rookie, fifth-round pick Kenneth Gainwell, scored his first TD as a pro with an 8-yard run late in the third quarter to essentially seal the victory.
In an often sloppy matchup between rookie head coaches and the NFC’s two worst teams a year ago, the Eagles limited the Falcons to a pair of field goals and got more than enough production from a revamped offense with Hurts calling the shots.
Hurts completed 27 of 35 passes for 264 yards and used his mobility to repeatedly neutralize Atlanta’s attempt to shake him up with a wide variety of blitzes. He rushed for 62 yards on seven carries.
The first TD of the Sirianni Era signaled the changing times in Philadelphia after the Eagles slumped to a 4-11-1 last season, leading to the firing of Super Bowl-winning coach Doug Pederson.
Hurts, now the undisputed starter, lofted a pass to Smith, the No. 10 overall pick, along the left side of the end zone to give the Eagles a lead they never relinquished just past the midway point of the first quarter.
Smith took advantage of a nifty, pick-like move from tight end Zach Ertz to get just enough separation on cornerback Fabian Moreau to haul in the throw from Hurts. In an interesting twist, it was same end zone at Mercedes-Benz Stadium where Smith caught a championship-winning touchdown pass for Alabama in overtime in the 2018 national title game.
Hurts and Smith were teammates for two years with the Crimson Tide. The Eagles hope this is the first of many touchdowns they’ll team up for in the NFL.
Coming off a 4-12 season in which they fired both their coach and general manager, and an offseason that featured the trade of seven-time Pro Bowl receiver Julio Jones, Matt Ryan and the Falcons got off to a miserable start under new coach Arthur Smith.
Ryan passed for just 164 yards and was sacked three times. Two of the takedowns were delivered by Javon Hargrave on fourth-down plays when the Falcons were forced to go for it on consecutive possessions in the closing minutes.
Eagles: S Marcus Epps left in the first half with a concussion. … Ertz was sidelined with a hamstring injury. … WR J.J. Arcega-Whiteside sustained an ankle injury.
Falcons: No injuries reported.
Eagles: Host the San Francisco 49ers in their home opener next Sunday.
Falcons: Travel to Florida to take on the defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers next Sunday in an NFC South matchup.
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