Jalen Hurts pondered for several seconds on Thursday when asked to recall his most memorable play from this season.
Deep down, the Eagles quarterback already knew his answer.
“The season’s not over yet,” Hurts said. He simultaneously flashed a sly smile, briefly breaking from his stoic persona.
The 24-year-old has served as a catalyst for many significant moments. He’s a large reason the Eagles are bound for Super Bowl LVII. They’ll face the Kansas City Chiefs on Feb. 12 at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Ariz.
Hurts is 16-1 as the starting quarterback this season. The only quarterback in NFL history to go 17-1 and win the Super Bowl was Joe Montana in 1984. Additionally, Hurts is tied for the most wins in a season by any quarterback during their first three seasons, joining Russell Wilson, 2013; Kurt Warner, 1999; Dan Marino, 1984; and Montana, 1981.
Hurts is hoping to join even more elite company with a victory on the highest stage.
“I’ve always wanted to be the best,” Hurts said. “The Super Bowl is on the list to be the best. It’s kind of fell in line.
“We have a heck of an opportunity in front of us. We’ve worked really hard to be where we are now. To have the opportunity is something you’ve earned. We’re going to work really hard to take advantage of it.”
Hurts is still dealing with lingering effects from an injury to his throwing shoulder that he suffered Dec. 18. He admitted to not being 100% but said Thursday that he’s “getting there.”
In addition to the Eagles receiving an opening-round bye week as the NFC’s No. 1 seed, Hurts had the opportunity to receive extra rest during the team’s playoff victories over the New York Giants and San Francisco 49ers. The Eagles possessed large second-half leads in both games, which allowed Hurts and other starters to rest in the fourth quarter.
“I’ve made it clear this is something I’ve been dealing with,” Hurts said. “But I’m getting there. I’m [getting better] with time.”
Chiefs defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo has built his reputation for challenging opposing quarterbacks to beat his defense with their eyes. He’ll likely throw an assortment of pre-snap looks at Hurts, and attempt to force him into rushed decisions. For Kansas City, the tone is largely set at the interior through defensive tackle Chris Jones, who recorded a career-high 14 sacks in the regular season. The Chiefs rank 11th in total defense (328.2 yards allowed per game), including eighth in rush defense (107.2), and 18th in pass defense (220.9). They struggle mightily with defending in the red zone (31st, 67.3% rate).
The Eagles counter with arguably the best offensive line in football that includes three Pro Bowl selections and two alternates — with All-Pros in center Jason Kelce and right tackle Lane Johnson. Hurts’ top weapons include wide receivers A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith, along with tight end Dallas Goedert. Additionally, Hurts — along with running backs Miles Sanders, Kenneth Gainwell, and Boston Scott — recently set an NFL record for most rushing touchdowns (39) in a single season, including the playoffs.
“It really set in today because we have to get back to work,” Brown said of the Eagles advancing to the Super Bowl. “What we want to accomplish, being on this level with my friend [Hurts], the talks we’ve had in the past — it’s right in front of our eyes.”
“They had a really good team last year,” Hurts said of the Chiefs. “They have a really good team this year. In terms of us, we have to go do what we’ve done all year: Execute at a high level. We have a huge challenge in front of us with what they do on defense, and their front seven, how active they are up front. We want to go out there and play clean.”