PHILADELPHIA — AJ Brown clinched his third touchdown catch — in the first half — and the Eagles’ star receiver peered through his tinted visor at two Steelers defenders who were caught in a slapstick collision in a vain attempt to break up the pass were thrown on the lawn.
Brown then pointed to and taunted each fallen Steeler as the Philly crowd roared – and he was met with a mock penalty.
It’s worth the 15 meters for some fun.
“I just said, ‘One, two, it’s not enough'” said Brown with a laugh.
Three TDs was pretty good for Brown. So the Eagles were on seven, like at 7-0 and the lone undefeated team in the NFL.
Hurts threw three touchdown passes to Brown in the first half and finished with 285 yards and four total TDs as Philadelphia sped past Pittsburgh 35-13 on Sunday.
Brown had six receptions for 156 yards and helped the Eagles win their first seven games for the second time in franchise history and for the first time since 2004 when Donovan McNabb and Terrell Owens led them to the Super Bowl. That season, the Eagles were denied an 8-0 start with a loss to the Steelers.
Pittsburgh (2-6) offered no resistance this time as Hurts and Brown turned the Linc into their own pitch-and-catch playground.
“I know I can’t let him down” said Brown. “We just have fun and play for each other. I’m pretty sure he knows I have my back and I know he has my back too. I think that’s what it is.”
Rookie Kenny Pickett showed more short-term growing pains for the Steelers and was 25 of 38 for 191 yards and an interception. Wide receiver Chase Claypool threw a 1-yard pass to fullback Derek Watt on a trick play in the first quarter for Pittsburgh’s only touchdown.
“We need more explosive moves” said Pickett.
The World Series banner hung across the street in front of Citizens Bank Park — the Phillies and Houston Astros are 1-1 in Game 3 in Philly on Monday — and it’s suddenly the point in the NFL season where it is time to stamp the Eagles as Super Bowl favorites.
These are heady times for Philly sports fans and Brown became the latest star, giving them some more October moments to remember.
Make it three in the first half.
Brown could still score and taunt in Tennessee if the Titans didn’t feel his asking price for an extension was too high in the spring. When the Titans decided they didn’t want to pay Brown, he was traded mid-draft. The Eagles gave him a four-year, $100 million contract with a $57 million post-trade guarantee.
No buyer regrets yet.
Brown became the first receiver since Tennessee’s Drew Bennett in 2004 with three touchdowns from over 25 yards in the first half. Hurts hit Brown from 39 yards, 27 and 29 yards for a 21-10 halftime lead.
Brown reached over his shoulder in the end zone to score the third as Pittsburgh defensemen Minkah Fitzpatrick and Ahkello Witherspoon collided. Brown might then have done Owens proud with the kind of celebration once seen by the retired recipient.
Her first TD was perhaps the most impressive. Brown went up to catch the 39-yard lever and won a battle for the ball with Fitzpatrick pounding the turf in frustration.
Hurts caught Brown in stride for the second touchdown as fast receiver passed cornerback Arthur Maulet.
Brown had his best game of his short tenure with the Eagles, surpassing the 155 yards he had in the season opener against Detroit. He only had two touchdowns to enter the game.
One blow to the Eagles this season has been their second-half slowdown. They had only four second-half touchdowns and were shut out after halftime against Minnesota and Washington.
Hurts brushed off those concerns when he tossed a 39-yard TD pass to Zach Pascal for a 28-10 lead in the third.
“They made these plays and we didn’t” said Steelers coach Mike Tomlin. “We must own it.”
The only player with more than four TD passes of 25 yards or more in a single game since 1980 has been Hall of Famer Dan Marino, who had five in Week 1 of 1994 against the Patriots.
“These are the dudes of dudes that reach his ceiling” Eagles coach Nick Sirianni said about hurts. “I don’t know if we know what his cap will be.”
Hurts almost matched Marino in the fourth quarter, but Brown was tripped at 11 on a 43-yard pass. Do not worry. Miles Sanders rushed for a touchdown and a 35-13 lead in the next game.
A short week before the start, the Eagles starters got a break and center Jason Kelce playfully wore a Batman mask on the sidelines, a nod to the superhero nicknames assigned to their wide receivers. is brown “Gay Batman.”
“We were out there partying and everything,” said Brown. “It’s fun. There’s nothing quite like it.”
SAY A PRAYER
Among the Eagles Inactive: Book, Jobe and Sermon. Do the QB Ian Book, RB Trey Sermon and CB Josh Jobe.
Nick Sciba kicked field goals from 38 and 29 yards for the Steelers in place of the injured Chris Boswell (groin).
Eagles DT Jordan Davis suffered an ankle injury.
The Steelers bid farewell before hosting New Orleans on November 13.
The Eagles play in Houston Thursday night in what could be the start of a packed Philly sports week in Texas. Games 6 and 7 (if required) of the World Series are scheduled for Friday and Saturday in Houston.
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