Carson Wentz needed fewer than 15 minutes Sunday to set a career high with three touchdown passes, becoming the first quarterback in franchise history to accomplish the feat in the first quarter of a game.
He added one more as he completed 21 of 30 pass attempts for 304 yards with the four touchdowns against an interception for a career-best 128.3 rating in the 34-7 demolition of the Arizona Cardinals.
The Eagles are 4-1 and have scored at least 20 points in nine consecutive games, the longest streak in the league. No team has posted more 20-point games since the start of Wentz's career than the Eagles with 18 and only two others - Atlanta and New England - have matched that mark.
"I think just offensively, I think we can be dynamic, we can be explosive. Even today when we came up short, it's usually us just hurting ourselves – I miss a throw, we have penalties, different things. So we just have to keep learning from that," Wentz said after the game. "We can't shoot ourselves in the foot. We have to keep making plays. We know we can be an explosive unit."
In the previous two weeks, Wentz engineered an efficient and turnover-free offense with the run game totaling 407 yards in wins over New York and Los Angeles. On Sunday, Wentz needed his arm to beat an Arizona defense that ranked 10th against the run entering Week 5. He did his best work on third down, completing 11 of 12 passes for 225 yards (18.8 yards per attempt) with three touchdowns for a perfect 158.3 passer rating. He is the only quarterback in the NFL to record multiple games with a perfect passer rating on third down this season (Week 1 at Washington).
For the season, Wentz is 37-of-52 for 574 yards with six touchdowns against one interception for a 137.8 rating on "the money down."
"That's what separates good teams. To be effective on third down and staying on the field, that helps time possession and that helps the defense. It's a big part of the game. Call it the money down. So to be that efficient on third downs is big," Wentz said.
On the game's opening drive, Wentz converted not one, but two third-and-11 situations with throws to tight end Zach Ertz and wide receiver Alshon Jeffery, respectively, before capping off the drive with a 15-yard touchdown pass to tight end Trey Burton, who beat safety Deone Buccannon off the line of scrimmage, in the left corner of the end zone.
After a 76-yard punt return by Kenjon Barner to set up the Eagles' second offensive drive, Wentz put another six points on the board with an 11-yard touchdown over the middle to Ertz on, you guessed it, third down.
Wentz capped off the historic quarter with a 59-yard catch-and-run touchdown by wide receiver Torrey Smith, his first as an Eagle. And, of course, it was also on a third-down play.
"You hope for that. You hope for something like that. I'm kind of the guy and I know this offense as we expect to come out after a hot start. I didn't imagine it going quite like that, maybe not quite that much, but the defense was rolling. We got the big punt return early and we just had the momentum and we just stayed on it," Wentz said.
Wentz's fourth and final scoring throw of the afternoon came in a very difficult third-and-19 scenario from the Eagles' 28-yard line. There aren't too many calls in the playbook for that predicament.
The Cardinals rushed seven defenders leaving only four players in man-to-man coverage. Wentz stood tall in the teeth of the blitz as wide receiver Nelson Agholor beat his man, safety Budda Baker. The quarterback put enough air under the ball allowing the speedster to get it near the left sideline at the Arizona 30-yard line. Agholor spun on a dime at the 15, delivered a couple of stiff-arms, and freed himself of Baker to get to the 1-yard line before turning around and falling down backward in the end zone for the 72-yard score.
"At first I thought I was even with him. I was ducking my head and then I saw the ball, so I turned up another gear to go track it," Agholor said. "Carson just gave me a great opportunity and threw such a beautiful ball. It was easy to track and make a play from there."
Wentz wouldn't say whether or not Sunday was the best performance of his career. It was another milestone in the development of the young quarterback with a critical Thursday night matchup just four days from now in Carolina against a Panthers team that is also 4-1 after beating Detroit.
"Four touchdowns to four different guys is a huge stepping stone," Ertz said. "I don't think he's thrown that many in a game yet. He is the face of the franchise; as he goes, we go. And the most impressive part is that he is so even-keeled through the highs and the lows. So we love playing for him. So we are excited with where we're at."
The Eagles defeated the Cardinals, 34-7, at Lincoln Financial Field in Week 5 of the regular season.