Eagles' A.J. Brown still sees room to grow after historic performance

PHILADELPHIA -- Eagles wide receiver A.J. Brown had three rather dazzling touchdown catches to admire following Sunday's 35-13 romp of the Pittsburgh Steelers -- a win that elevated Philadelphia to 7-0 for just the second time in franchise history. But it was the one that got away that he was studying with fellow receiver Zach Pascal at his locker after the game.

Brown pulled up the video on his phone of his 43-yard catch-and-run early in the fourth quarter, where he cut inside for extra yards before being tripped up by safety Minkah Fitzpatrick. His teammates had been razzing him for getting caught from behind -- a first in his professional career, Brown contends -- and he was pleading his case as to why it happened.

"See what I'm saying? I would have went wide and to the left but I didn't know where he was!" Brown said.

Pascal wasn't buying it.

"They wanted you to come out that much. Nah, bro. Nah, bro," Pascal said as he walked away, both of them breaking into laughter.

That there's room for improvement off a dominating six-catch, 156-yard, three-score performance speaks to the orbit he has rocketed to seven games deep into his tenure with the Eagles.

Brown is the first player with 100 receiving yards and three receiving touchdowns in the first half of a game since Tampa Bay's Mike Evans in Week 3 of 2019, according to ESPN Stats & Information research. He became just the third receiver since 2006 -- when ESPN began tracking air yards -- to have three receiving touchdowns of 20-plus air yards in a single game.

Following his third score, a 29-yarder from quarterback Jalen Hurts in the right corner of the end zone with Fitzpatrick and corner Ahkello Witherspoon sandwiching him, Brown got flagged for taunting for pointing to each of them and saying, "One, two [defenders], that's not enough." On this afternoon, he was right.

One slight concern about the undefeated Eagles entering their Week 7 bye was their lack of scoring in the second half. Asked how they were able to keep their foot on the gas against Pittsburgh, resulting in two more touchdowns, right tackle Lane Johnson said: "Just throw that motherf------ to No. 11. That guy had a special day."

The same can be said for Hurts, who set a career-high with four touchdown tosses. His budding chemistry with Brown is apparent. His last two touchdown strikes to Brown couldn't have synced up better. The first wasn't even supposed to go to Brown, who was running a clearing route for DeVonta Smith, but Hurts saw Fitzpatrick playing a little low in coverage, went off-script, and banked on Brown to turn on the jets and make a play.

“I have a lot of trust in A.J. I think that’s a lot of the reason why he’s here," Hurts said. "We’ve always had a great relationship. It’s been beautiful to see how it’s unfolded throughout the year, personally for him and I, and us on the field. I always had a lot of admiration for his mentality. He’s been doing great things for us, I’m proud of him as a friend and as a quarterback.”

Brown, 25, set career-highs in both touchdowns and yards Sunday. He became the first Eagle to record 650-plus receiving yards (659) and 5-plus touchdowns (5) in the first seven games of a season since Terrell Owens in 2005 (763 yards, 6 TDs).

He's playing as well as he ever has, and as his teammates reminded him in the locker room afterward with some playful ribbing, he has room yet to grow. Given that he's less than a half-season into his time with Hurts and in this offense, there's reason to believe he and the Eagles haven't yet shown everything they're capable of -- a scary prospect for the rest of the NFC.

"This team is hungry and most importantly, humble. We know there is a lot of work to be done. We still have not played a complete game, and I promise you, everybody in this room is going to know when we play a complete game," Brown said. "Once we do that, the whole world will know that."