PHILADELPHIA — All it took was one throw.
Jalen Hurts let it fly on his first pass of the game, and suddenly the unease that crept into that often worrisome Philadelphia sports psyche — Yeah, but how is his banged-up right shoulder, really? — seemed to dissipate.
Hurts' shoulder was fine. No doubt about that.
With their star quarterback in complete control, the Philadelphia Eagles once again look like the team that was rarely challenged during an NFL-best 13-1 start this season.
Hurts threw two touchdown passes and ran for a score during a dominant first half, and the top-seeded Eagles overwhelmed the New York Giants 38-7 on Saturday night in the divisional round of the NFC playoffs.
"To have him out there, I know this is high praise, it's like having Michael Jordan out there," Philadelphia coach Nick Sirianni said. "He's your leader. He's your guy. That's the biggest respect I can pay to him."
Philadelphia will host the NFC championship game next weekend against either the Dallas Cowboys or the San Francisco 49ers, who meet Sunday.
Hurts missed two losses late in the schedule with a sprained right shoulder and then showed the Giants, one of the Eagles' NFC East Division rivals, nothing in the regular-season finale when the Eagles ran a vanilla offense designed to protect the Pro Bowl quarterback.
Under bright postseason lights at Lincoln Financial Field, the Eagles unleashed an offense geared to clobber the Giants. Hurts dazzled early with his arm, and the offensive line opened big holes for Kenneth Gainwell and Miles Sanders as the Eagles finished with 268 yards on the ground. Hurts was 16-of-24 passing for 154 yards.
"Seemed like the old Jalen to me," Sanders said.
Hurts showed he was fine on the second play of the game, when he hit DeVonta Smith in stride for a 40-yard reception.
The fun was just starting in Philly. Hurts was flawless on the drive, completing passes of 9 yards, 5 yards, and then — boom — 16 yards for a touchdown on a one-handed grab by tight end Dallas Goedert.
Second drive, more of the same. Hurts had completions of 12 yards and 9 yards en route to a 9-yard touchdown pass to Smith. It was 14-0 in the first quarter, and the Giants already needed a standing eight count. New York turned the ball over on downs on its first possession, and Daniel Jones was intercepted by James Bradberry on its second.
The Linc was bonkers with full-throated chants of "E-A-G-L-E-S!" filling the air, and Sirianni went wild chest-bumping assistants on the sideline.
"Philly's been drinking since 8 a.m," Goedert cracked of the raucous atmosphere.
Hurts' shoulder may not have been 100%, but his passing was — at least in the first quarter, when he was 7-of-7 for 89 yards.
"This guy leads, he brings this calmness to the entire team," Sirianni said. "He's as tough as they come. To me, there's not anybody that's played better football than him this year."
Even when the calls were obvious for the Eagles, the Giants were helpless to stop them. Case in point: The Eagles had the ball on the New York 3-yard line. Give the ball to Boston Scott? Yes, they did. Scott scored against the Giants for the 11th time in his career — he has only 19 touchdowns in all during his five seasons in the NFL — and suddenly it was 21-0.
New York defensive coordinator Wink Martindale riled up Eagles fans during the week when he insisted Scott wasn't a "Giant killer." Hard to argue against that point now.
Hurts wrapped the half with a 5-yard touchdown run — he bobbled the shotgun snap but still coasted untouched into the end zone — for a 28-0 lead. There have been only four more lopsided first-half playoff shutouts in NFL history.
"I'm so proud of this team, how we came out here. I'm so proud of these fans. It's a Philly thing, you know? It's special," Hurts said.
Gainwell finished with 112 yards on 12 carries, including a late 35-yard touchdown. Sanders had 17 rushes for 90 yards.
The Giants were discombobulated from the start and looked nothing like the team that beat the Minnesota Vikings 31-24 last weekend for the franchise's first postseason win since its Super Bowl victory under coach Tom Coughlin 11 years ago.
Matt Brieda had an 8-yard touchdown run for the Giants in the third quarter. Daniel Jones was 15-of-27 for 135 yards and an interception.
"Give Philly credit, they did everything better than we did tonight," said Brian Daboll, whose first season as Giants head coach did end a five-year playoff drought.
Hurts ran, threw and directed the offense with the same authority shown when he led the Eagles to an 8-0 start and won over a city that still wasn't so sure about him in the preseason. In last year's playoff loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Hurts threw two interceptions and was just 23-of-43 for 258 yards.
A year later, Hurts is a fan favorite and has the Eagles in the hunt for their first Super Bowl trip since 2018, the only time they've won it in three tries.
"We're close to the top," Sirianni said. "But don't look at the the top yet."