Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes, right, and Philadelphia Eagles quarterback...

Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes, right, and Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts speak at Super Bowl LVII opening night, Monday, Feb. 6, 2023, in Phoenix. Credit: AP/David J. Philip

PHOENIX — Jalen Hurts’ jump in his third NFL season has been tremendous. The Eagles’ talented quarterback went from looking overmatched in his first playoff game a year ago to leading Philadelphia to the Super Bowl.

Hurts reflected on his path to this point on Monday at the Super Bowl’s Opening Night. He has been doubted, and he’s overcome it. He has been benched, and he’s overcome it.

For Hurts, it’s always about rising up.

“It’s just overall consistent growth,” he said. “I’m just trying to attack every day. I feel like there’s always room for improvement, whether that’s me running the ball, throwing the ball, understanding what’s going on with my scheme, understanding the defense, all those different things.

“I can’t really put an emphasis on one. Just continue to rise. I’ve always said the only direction is to rise. That’s the mentality that I have.”

Hurts, a second-round pick in 2020, was a leading candidate for MVP honors before suffering a sprained shoulder in Week 15. He’s a finalist for the NFL’s top honor, but his Super Bowl counterpart, Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes, is the favorite to be named MVP.

Through his first 14 games, Hurts threw for 3,157 yards, 22 touchdowns and three interceptions and ran for 10 touchdowns. The Eagles went 14-1 in the regular season when Hurts started and were 0-2 without him.

In Philadelphia’s two postseason wins, Hurts has thrown two touchdown passes with no interceptions and run for two TDs.

Hurts, who has rushed for 1,544 yards and 23 touchdowns the past two seasons, believes the running aspect of his game is what makes him different from most quarterbacks.

“It’s something that’s able to set me apart from other quarterbacks in the league,” he said. “I think the most important thing for us and our success is being efficient in those decisions, being efficient when I’m running the ball, throwing the ball, my decision-making. I touch the ball every play, so that’s a very pivotal point in what we do.”

Hurts is enjoying being here and being a part of history. The Hurts-Mahomes matchup will be the first time two African-American quarterbacks will start in the Super Bowl, and Hurts called it “special” to be a part of that.

“That’s big-time history,” he said. “That’s big-time history. It’s a historic moment to be on this platform and to give so many others so much inspiration moving forward, telling them that they can do it too.”

Hurts pointed to the Eagles’ history of having elite African-American quarterbacks and referenced Randall Cunningham, Rodney Peete, Donovan McNabb and Michael Vick. Hurts wants to make more history and be the first one of them to lead the Eagles to a Super Bowl win.

“It’s crazy. It’s crazy,” he said. “I think about all of the quarterbacks that come through Philly. I told those guys long ago I just want to carry that torch for them. Obviously, I come here for a goal, I come here for a reason — we want to finish it off. It’s definitely been a fun ride this year.”

Hurts relishes the fact that he can inspire young people and be someone they look up to as they begin their journeys. He said the people who inspired him the most are his father and brother. Hurts’ dad was his high school coach; his brother was the starting quarterback at Texas Southern University.

“Those two guys have been instrumental in who I am,” Hurts said. “My childhood, being a coach’s kid has allowed me to separate myself from everyone around me. That development and the experiences I’ve had as a kid, being a coach’s kid, being that ball boy on the sideline, it’s propelled me to heights that I never thought.”

For Hurts, it’s all about rising up.

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