It was not a surprise that the reps at quarterback were split between Cody Kessler and Clayton Thorson. The surprise came on Thursday night when Kessler was knocked out of the game on the opening series with a concussion, paving the way for Thorson to play the rest of the game. Thorson was up to the challenge, completing 16 of 26 pass attempts for 175 yards with one touchdown and one interception as the Eagles beat the Jaguars, 24-10.
Here’s how the game unfolded:
1. On the opening drive of Thursday’s game, Jaguars defensive end Datone Jones came in unblocked and hit Kessler, who went to the medical tent and eventually to the locker room to be evaluated for a head injury. Kessler is in the concussion protocol. Thorson, the fifth-round pick of the Eagles in the spring, came into the game.
Kessler had the Eagles on the move, netting three first downs, before the injury.
With Carson Wentz getting the night off, Kessler and Thorson were the only two healthy quarterbacks available against Jacksonville.
2. Wide receiver Greg Ward, a former quarterback in college, came up with the first touchdown of the night on a fourth-and-4 from the Jacksonville 38-yard line with 14:05 remaining in the first half. Miles Sanders did a great job in pass protection, giving Thorson the extra moment he needed to loft the ball down the left side to Ward, who caught the ball over safety C.J. Reavis at the 17-yard line and ran the ball in for the score.
The touchdown capped off an impressive 12-play, 95-yard drive by Thorson.
3. The second touchdown came from Josh Adams on a 1-yard run with 5:30 remaining in the third quarter to make it 14-3. It was a 12-play, 85-yard drive that featured not one, but two successful challenges by head coach Doug Pederson.
And the second challenge was to invoke defensive pass interference on the Jaguars. Thorson threw incomplete into the end zone for wide receiver Carlton Agudosi. However, Jaguars defensive back Josh Robinson clearly had a fistful of jersey and used it to launch over Agudosi. With the ball placed at the 1-yard line, Adams punched it in. Adams also had a 19-yard catch-and-run on third-and-6 earlier in the drive.
4. Sanders and Jordan Howard were the only starters on offense who played, but the new backs showed why fans should be optimistic about the run game this season. Sanders had 31 yards on five carries, including a 16-yard run to open the Ward touchdown drive. Howard converted a third-and-1 with a 3-yard run on that same possession.
5. While the starters on offense had the night off, the first-team defense played two series. Malcolm Jenkins had two tackles and was very active at the line of scrimmage. He also provided pressure to force a Gardner Minshew incomplete pass. Linebacker Zach Brown filled the hole nicely on an Alfred Blue run that resulted in a two-yard loss.