By DAVID WEINBERG

I watched an exciting, well-played competition Thursday night.  It was a thrilling game that wasn't decided until the final minutes.

No, I'm not talking about the Eagles' 35-0 loss to the Patriots. As soon as I realized quarterback Jalen Hurts wasn't playing and coach Nick Siranni had made the strange decision to rest most of his starters, I quickly flipped the channel over to "Beat Shazam."
After that, I switched back to the Eagles' game just in time to see heralded rookie wide receiver DeVonta Smith drop at least two passes. Then it was time to click On Demand and catch up on another favorite, "The Wall."

Both game shows were infinitely more interesting than the preseason game.

According to Sirianni, Hurts missed the game due to a stomach bug. He went through pregame warmups and appeared to be in good spirits, but didn't feel well enough to play and actually went to the hospital to get checked.

"We evaluated him and we just decided it wasn't in his best interest to play with what he was feeling," Sirianni said after the game.

Because Hurts couldn't play, Sirianni somehow determined it was in the best interest of the team for most of the other starters to also sit out, including the three-fifths of the offensive line and all four defensive linemen. The two offensive linemen who did start - left guard Isaac Seumalo and left tackle Jordan Mailata - played six snaps.

The lineups made no sense: Running back Miles Sanders played with the backup blockers after sitting out the first preseason game.

"Last week it was our decision as a team not ot play him (against the Steelers with the rest of the starters)," Sirianni said. "And this week we were like, 'He needs to get a couple carries,' and he did."

Smith, the Eagles' first-round draft pick, made his preseason debut after missing last week's game with a knee injury.

He finished with two catches for 19 yards - I was midway through "The Wall" by that point and didn't see either reception - after struggling at the outset. Smith failed to turn around in time for Joe Flacco's nice back-shoulder pass, then let two more throws slip through his hands.

"I wouldn't call it rust," Smith said after the game. "I would say I wasn't focusing on catching the ball and trying to look back too fast before I caught the ball. ... Maybe I need to hit the JUGS machine more."

Defensively, linebacker Alex Singleton literally made every tackle in the first half before defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon mercifully pulled him out. Singleton and linebacker Eric Wilson were the only projected defensive starters to see the field, which may or may not explain the Patriots' ability to score at will.

Place-kicker Jake Elliott missed the game with an ankle injury, forcing new punter Arryn Siposs to take over the kicking duties. Due to the Eagles' offensive ineptitude, however, he did not attempt and field goal or extra point.

Personally, I would have given Carli Lloyd a call. The soccer legend from Delran booted a 55-yard field goal during an Eagles' training camp session two years ago. Granted, she took a few extra steps, but 55 yards is still 55 yards.

Sirianni explained that most of his starters didn't play because they had already been through two joint practices with the Patriots during the week. They are supposed to have two more leading up to their final preseason game against the Jets next Saturday, which suggests the backups will be out there again.

That strategy should change. After the Jets' game, the Eagles will have 16 days before they open the regular season at Atlanta on Sept. 12. The starters, especially Hurts, need to play at least a half in order to develop some sort of chemistry.

As an aside, I made a mental note to myself to find a way to get our daughter, Ashley, on "Beat Shazam." She rattles off the answers with uncanny accuracy, regardless of genre. It could be rap, pop, 90s hits or even country and she rarely misses.

The main dispute involves the money. For those of you who have never seen "Beat Shazam," three teams of two hear snippets of a song and are given four choices. The fastest team to buzz in with the correct answer gets the money for that round. The last team standing moves to the final, where if you provide the exact song title for six songs, you win $1 million.

I've repeatedly offered to be her teammate - 60s and 70s music is my strength - in return for a 50-50 split of our winnings. Her counter is always 80-20, with the 80 percent going into her bank account.

Maybe I'll challenge her to Rock, Paper, Scissors.

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