Philadelphia is one of the most storied sports cities in the United States — one of just six cities with an NFL, MLB, NBA, and NHL championship.
As such, these teams have produced a variety of highlight-reel heroes, including recent players such as Bryce Harper and Joel Embiid.
However, Eagles receivers A.J Brown and DeVonta Smith are one of the most electric highlight duos in the sport.
Let’s take a look at some of Brown and Smith’s best moments.
DeVonta Smith’s Improbable Heisman Season
Entering his senior season in 2020, Smith looked to build off of a breakout 2019 season that saw him catch 68 passes for over 1200 yards and 14 touchdowns for an Alabama squad that underperformed. The pressure and expectations in Tuscaloosa were high after its first two-loss season since 2014. Alongside the pressure, the Crimson Tide had to account for the departures of quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and wide receivers Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs.
The result made for an unforgettable season. Paired with Mac Jones, Najee Harris, and Jaylen Waddle, Smith was the focal point on arguably the most dominant Alabama team of the Nick Saban era. They were a perfect 13–0, capped off by a 52–24 defeat of Ohio State in the national championship. He changed the trajectory of Alabama’s season, similar to how he helped raise Philadelphia’s NFC Championship Odds when paired with Brown a few seasons later.
Smith led the way with a career-high 117 receptions and over 1,800 yards, with 23 touchdowns. The performance allowed Smith to edge out teammates Jones and Trevor Lawrence for the Heisman Trophy, the first receiver to be awarded since Desmond Howard in 1991. Brown and Smith were an integral part of Philadelphia’s magical run to the Super Bowl. Before we look at their best highlights, let’s take a look at A.J. Brown.
A.J Brown’s Rookie Season
Brown entered the 2019 draft largely unheralded compared to his Ole Miss teammate, DK Metcalf. Metcalf went viral throughout his career due to his impressive size and speed despite having inferior production compared to Brown. His production paid off, with the Titans drafting Brown 13 spots before Metcalf. Brown responded by leading all rookie receivers in yards with 1,051 and tying Darius Slayton with eight touchdowns.
Brown’s success was not only individual but also led to an improbable run to the AFC Championship game. The Titans took down the Patriots and Ravens on the road and were up 10–0 in the AFC Championship Game before Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs came storming back. Brown’s rookie season ranks among the best in league history, being one of just a handful of wideouts who had over 1,000 yards receiving in their rookie season.
However, tensions arose in Tennessee after his third season. As his contract negotiations began, head coach Mike Vrabel promised he wouldn’t be traded. Titans general manager Jon Robinson wasn’t willing to give Brown the money his agent was asking for. That created an irreconcilable impasse, leading to his move to Philadelphia.
A Historic 2022 Season
The careers of both receivers entered a perfect storm in 2022 when the Titans traded Brown to the Eagles. In his first season with Philadelphia, the two wideouts had career years behind one of the league’s best offensive lines, with Jalen Hurts throwing the ball to them. Brown finished the season with a career-high of 1,496 yards and 11 touchdowns, while Smith put together his first 1,000-yard season, going for nearly 1,100 yards and seven touchdowns.
The performance gave the Eagles one of the best receiver duos in the league, paired with an MVP-caliber quarterback. Brown came out with a bang, catching 10 passes for 155 yards in the season’s opening game. Smith broke out two games later, catching eight balls for a career-high 169 yards in a week three win against Washington. Overall, the Eagles won their first eight games and 13 of their first 14 games overall before losing two out of three to end the year.
The strong performances from both Brown and Smith led to Philadelphia going 14–3 and claiming the number 1 overall seed in the NFC playoffs, beating the Giants and 49ers by a combined 55 points in the divisional and championship rounds. Brown and Smith were relatively quiet in the NFC championship, combining for just 64 yards, but Philadelphia ultimately won and moved on to Super Bowl LVII, our top highlight.
Super Bowl LVII
The Eagles lost the game, thanks to Patrick Mahomes’ nearly perfect second-half performance despite a high ankle sprain. Jalen Hurts had a career game, throwing for over 300 yards and a touchdown while adding 70 yards on the ground and three rushing touchdowns. That said, Brown and DeVonta Smith had a tremendous game in their own right.
Smith caught seven passes for 100 yards, including a 45-yard catch late in the 4th quarter that led to Hurts’ go-ahead touchdown run. Conversely, Brown had six passes for 96 yards and a 45-yard touchdown pass to start the 2nd quarter. While these highlights came in a devastating loss, they are still worth talking about, and Philadelphia sports fans will surely remember them for years to come.
What Is To Come
Only the Dolphins and Bengals have a 1–2 punch at wide receiver that can compete with the Eagles.
As long as Hurts, Brown, and Smith are in Philadelphia, they will be a force to be reckoned with.