PHILADELPHIA — Jalen Hurts earned another start.

The rookie quarterback will be behind center when the Philadelphia Eagles (4-8-1) visit the Arizona Cardinals (6-6) on Sunday.

Hurts led the Eagles to a 24-21 upset over the New Orleans Saints (10-3) in his first career start after replacing Carson Wentz.

“Jalen played well. He was a big part of the success we had on offense and obviously helping us win that football game,” Eagles Coach Doug Pederson said Monday.

Hurts ran for 106 yards and threw for 167 and one touchdown as Philadelphia snapped New Orleans’ nine-game winning streak and ended its own four-game slide.

The Eagles racked up 413 total yards against the league’s top-ranked defense. Miles Sanders had 115 yards rushing, including 82 on a TD run. The Saints hadn’t allowed a 100-yard rusher in the previous 55 games before Hurts and Sanders each reached that mark.

Hurts wasn’t sacked, the first time Philadelphia’s depleted offensive line didn’t allow one this season. Wentz has been sacked 50 times.

“One of the things that Jalen did well when he was out of the pocket and there was nowhere to run or nowhere to throw is that he threw the ball away and that helps your offensive line,” Pederson said. “It doesn’t put you in a bad situation. Doesn’t put you in a second-and-long situation or third-and-long situation. I think that looking at the offensive line, really, across the board, they all played extremely well.”

Wentz’s $128 million, four-year contract extension signed in June 2019 kicks in next season. He was struggling through the worst season of his five-year career before Pederson benched him in the second half of last week’s loss at Green Bay.

The Eagles face a major decison because Wentz’s deal contained a then-NFL record $107.9 million in guaranteed money, including $66 million guaranteed at signing. Wentz’s salary cap amount next year is $34.7 million. The team would incur a significant cap hit by releasing him or trading him so their best option would be to figure out a way to have him regain his old form.

“Carson and I, our relationship’s great,” Pederson said. “We’ve had great communication. I just look at this year and the amount of adversity that we’ve faced and played with all season and trying to make things work.

“But there’s no issue with Carson and I. I look at maybe what I do or how I call a game, maybe I can approach it a little bit differently moving forward that way. … Listen, teams have a lot of film on your starter. They have ways to prepare for your starter. They can take away certain things and we’ve got to be able to compensate for that. But there’s been no issue between us.”

GIANTS: The New York Giants had the NFC East lead and control of their playoff chances, and lost it with one bad game.

It’s not a situation where the Giants (5-8) let it slip through their hands. New York was beaten badly by the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday. The 26-7 margin was not indicative of the one-sidedness of the game.

Arizona was a better team all around and it made no difference that Daniel Jones was limited by an improving but not healthy hamstring injury in his right leg. It certainly prevented him from running, and led to many of the six sacks he sustained. There were eight overall that the Cardinals got, including a franchise-record five by Haason Reddick.

The loss ended the Giants’ four-game winning streak and allowed streaking Washington (6-7) to take over first place in the tight division after its win over San Francisco. Philadelphia (4-8-1) and Dallas (4-9) also won, so not a lot separates the four teams with three games left in the regular season.

The Giants’ schedule is not easy, with contests at home against Cleveland, away at Baltimore, and home the final weekend against Dallas.

Coach Joe Judge said Monday the goal for the team has not changed. It’s the same as it has been since Day 1. Come to work, get better and play well on Sunday.

“So in terms of all the division standings, look, it’s the same as last week when everyone talked about being in first place,” the rookie coach said. “That wasn’t the focus of the week and, being in second place, that’s not the focus of the week, either. The only thing that’s going to help us right now is playing our best game against the Browns.”

The Giants have not been to the playoffs since 2016, the only year they made the postseason since winning the Super Bowl in February 2012.

“The playoffs are everything because, you know, as a team that’s what you want, to go to the playoffs and go to the Super Bowl and win a Super Bowl,” defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson said Monday. That’s the biggest thing across the board for teams in the NFL. We have to take it one week at a time, and just take it step by step. We look too far ahead and you miss out on that moment now.”

STEELERS: It’s not the first time Ben Roethlisberger has openly – if knowingly – questioned his own skillset.

At the end of the 2016 season, the longtime Pittsburgh Steelers’ quarterback hinted at retirement and let the question linger for months. Following an ugly loss to Jacksonville in October 2017, he semi-sarcastically suggested he didn’t have it anymore.

Each time, Roethlisberger regrouped. It’s what he’s done relentlessly during his 17-year career, perhaps never more so than last fall following surgery on his right elbow. He finds himself at another pivotal moment after the Steelers were pushed around by Buffalo 26-15 on Sunday night, sapping whatever momentum remained from Pittsburgh’s 11-0 start in the process following their second loss in a week.

“If I don’t play good enough football, then I need to hang it up,” Roethlisberger said. “I still feel like I can do enough things to help this team win football games. I’m going to do everything I can to get us back on track.”

As tends to happen when Roethlisberger is involved, it was the first line of his comments that grabbed the most attention in the immediate aftermath. Yet rather than said in anger or resentment – both of which applied during earlier times – it was more matter of fact.

Roethlisberger did not spend months rehabbing if he felt he couldn’t be an impact player. And throughout Pittsburgh’s 11-game run at perfection, he looked like an MVP candidate as he expertly picked apart opponents by executing the short-passing game designed to minimize the number of hits his 38-year-old body absorbed.

Though he was far from sharp against the Bills while completing 21 of 37 passes for 187 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions – one of them a tide-turning pick-6 late in the first half in which he threw slightly behind JuJu Smith-Schuster – Roethlisberger’s biggest problem wasn’t his play so much as the play of the guys around him in the huddle.

The offensive line again struggled to open any holes despite the return of perennial Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey and running back James Conner off the reserve/COVID-19 list. Pittsburgh ran for 47 yards – the fifth time in seven games the Steelers have finished with under 50 yards on the ground – and appears to be grasping for answers.

Jaylen Samuels, who had nine touches through 12 games, had seven touches against Buffalo. And while losing starting left guard Matt Feiler and replacement Kevin Dotson to injuries didn’t help, the reality is the unit – regardless of the personnel – has been routinely getting dominated when asked to provide any kind of push for weeks.

The inability to run the ball has allowed opposing defenses to become more aggressive in disrupting the passing game. Having a receiving group that can’t seem to hold on to the ball isn’t helping matters. Diontae Johnson found himself on the bench after two early drops and Roethlisberger’s longest pass completion was a 20-yard strike to Smith-Schuster that was mostly Smith-Schuster creating a little magic after the catch.

Having success when the run game is in neutral – actually, that’s being charitable, it’s in reverse – is doable if the passing game is efficient and the defense plays lights-out. Neither of those things happened in Buffalo.

While the Steelers were able to force Buffalo quarterback Josh Allen into a pair of early turnovers, once he settled in, Pittsburgh couldn’t keep pace on a night it played without injured starting cornerback Joe Haden and lined up recently acquired Avery Williamson and converted safety Marcus Allen at inside linebacker.

BUCCANEERS: Bruce Arians doesn’t shy away from talking to his Tampa Bay Buccaneers about the playoffs.

The 68-year-old coach’s message to players coming off the team’s bye was simple last week: December is about doing whatever is necessary to keep playing in January, regardless of record or seeding.

“Just getting in the dance. We’ve been a one seed and won it. We’ve been a six seed and won it,” said Arians, who before becoming a head coach won a pair of Super Bowl rings as an assistant with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

“This year especially – with no fans – the home-field advantage is really going to be out the window. It’s just going to be lining up and playing in empty stadiums,” Arians added. “What has been a big, big part of the playoffs in the past is home-field advantage. I don’t think it’s going to be an advantage this year. It’s just a matter of getting in.”

The Bucs (8-5) took a step toward ending the league’s second-longest postseason drought with Sunday’s 26-14 victory over the Minnesota Vikings. The win stopped a two-game skid and enabled them to hold on to the sixth seed in the crowded NFC race with three weeks left in the season.

The Bucs have missed the playoffs 12 consecutive seasons and haven’t won a postseason game since their Super Bowl run 18 years ago.

With Tom Brady running the offense, they’ve already won more games than a year ago, when Tampa Bay finished 7-9 in its first season under Arians. That won’t mean much, though, if the Bucs don’t finish strong and claim a postseason berth for the first time since 2007.

“December football is always huge, no matter what the situation is. You’re always playing for something. … I would say the only time when it really doesn’t matter is when the seeding is truly set, which that’s definitely not the case at all,” tight end Rob Gronkowski said.

“If we want to get to the playoffs, we’ve got to win these games. … You can’t look ahead of yourself. We’ve got to have good practices. We’ve got to know what we’re doing. We’ve got to prepare well. It’s basically playoffs every single week right now.”

The Bucs finish the season with a pair of games against NFC South rival Atlanta wrapped around a trip to Detroit on Dec. 26.

It’s not difficult to determine the most direct to the playoffs. Keep winning and they’re in.

“We’re very happy that we control our own destiny. That’s what we want – that’s all we could ask for. We’ve got to go out and do it,” receiver Mike Evans said. “We have the roster. We’ve just got to fine-tune some things and get hot at the right time, and I feel like we will.”

RAIDERS: Coach Jon Gruden had seen enough. After watching the Las Vegas defense allow more than 200 yards rushing for a second straight game and his team allow at least 30 points for the eighth time in 12 games, Gruden fired defensive coordinator Paul Guenther.

Gruden announced the move shortly after the Raiders (7-6) got overwhelmed in a 44-27 loss to Indianapolis on Sunday. Defensive line coach Rod Marinelli will take over as coordinator.

In nearly three full seasons with Guenther running the defense, the Raiders ranked last in points allowed per game (28.4), last in sacks (60), 31st in yards per play allowed (6.04), 30th in takeaways (47) and 29th in passer rating against (29th).

LIONS: Quarterback Matthew Stafford does not have broken ribs and his status will be determined throughout this week, interim coach Darrell Bevell said Monday.

Stafford suffered a rib injury on a hit by Kenny Clark midway through the fourth quarter that overshadowed another Lions loss, their third in four games, 31-24, to Green Bay.

Rookie cornerback Jeff Okudah will have surgery on his groin Tuesday and go on injured reserve.

COWBOYS: Mike McCarthy will be returning to the Cowboys next season, according to executive vice president Stephen Jones .

“There will be absolutely no change with Coach McCarthy,” Jones said during his weekly radio appearance. “I am surprised that someone would question Mike, this unprecedented situation that everybody’s been in. And on top of that, no one’s making excuses, but we have had some real challenges in the injury category.”

McCarthy took over in the offseason after the Cowboys parted ways with longtime coach Jason Garrett following another 8-8 season that ended with Dallas missing the postseason for the third time in five years.

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