Philadelphia Eagles rookie Jalen Hurts replaced Carson Wentz at quarterback midway through the third quarter and nearly sparked a comeback in Sunday's 30-16 road loss to the Green Bay Packers.
Hurts outperformed Wentz, finishing 5-of-12 for 109 yards with a touchdown and an interception while rushing five times for 29 yards. Wentz ended 6-of-15 for 79 yards and was sacked four times.
The decision to bench Wentz, and the team's uptick in play when Hurts was inserted into the lineup, will only intensify the quarterback debate raging in Philadelphia. Coach Doug Pederson said he has not decided which quarterback will start Week 14 for the Eagles (3-8-1) at home against the New Orleans Saints.
"I've got to get through injuries, I've got to get through the tape, there's a lot of things that I'm going to consider and evaluate before anything is decided," Pederson said.
Hurts tossed the first touchdown pass of his career midway through the fourth quarter, hitting receiver Greg Ward for a 32-yard strike on fourth-and-18. Fellow Eagles rookie Jalen Reagor made it a one-score game with a 73-yard punt-return touchdown a little over a minute later, but the comeback bid ended there, as the Packers' Aaron Jones broke off a 77-yard TD run and Hurts followed with an interception.
"Any experience and any opportunity to touch the field, it only kind of raises the value of that player. It's kind of has been that way all year, and today Coach gave me that opportunity," Hurts said. "With all my heart, I had every intention of coming in and getting it done and winning the game, but we came up short, and that only lights a fire in everybody moving forward."
Hurts saw an uptick in first-team snaps prior to last week's game against the Seattle Seahawks, sources told ESPN, but was on the field for only two plays as a result of the offense's inability to sustain drives. With Wentz's struggles continuing against the Packers, Pederson decided to give Hurts his first extended opportunity under center.
"I didn't know what the plan was fully. I was just told he was going in for the next play and the next series," Wentz said. "So I didn't really know what was going on there. Obviously, that's frustrating as a competitor and just the personality that I have, I want to be the guy out there. But it is what it is. They made the call today. At the end of the day we lost, as a team we lost, and that's what I think for me I'm most frustrated about. I don't like where we're at this season recordwise and I know I can play better and we can all be better going forward."
Wentz, 27, has been mired in the worst season of his career, entering Sunday's game ranked first in interceptions (15) and sacks (46), 31st in completion percentage (58.1%) and 30th in yards per attempt (6.02).
Hurts played 33 snaps over the first 11 games, lining up all over the formation while being used mostly as a gadget player. With increasing calls for Hurts to take more snaps in recent weeks, Pederson has maintained that Wentz is the Eagles' starter.
Hurts racked up 52 touchdowns for Oklahoma last season -- 32 passing and 20 rushing -- while finishing second in the Heisman Trophy voting behind Joe Burrow. The Eagles surprised many by selecting Hurts 53rd overall in April's NFL draft despite giving Wentz a four-year, $128 million extension in the summer of 2019.