The Eagles could have easily folded up shop and called it a night after the Giants took a 21-10 lead on Sterling Shepard's 2-yard touchdown reception with just 6:17 left in the game. The score capped a 97-yard drive that came off the heels of a failed fourth-and-goal attempt by the Eagles at the Giants' 3-yard line.
Before the stalled drive, the Eagles' previous six possessions ended like this: interception, punt, missed field goal, punt, punt, punt.
On national television, the Eagles were on the verge of losing to the Giants for the first time since 2016.
That is, until Carson Wentz refused. He refused to give up. He refused to give in. He refused to go down without a fight. He, quite simply, refused to lose.
Wentz engineered a pair of touchdown drives, the latter ending with a game-winning 18-yard dime to running back Boston Scott with just 40 seconds remaining to give the Eagles a 22-21 victory on Thursday night at Lincoln Financial Field.
"He's the leader of our team for a reason and you saw that tonight, leading our team down there to get the two scores late in the game," Head Coach Doug Pederson said. "Quarterbacks sometimes get measured by fourth-quarter comebacks. I know that's part of a stat that gets recorded, and he's done that. The last couple of weeks, we've put ourselves in position to really either tie the game a week ago, and of course this week win the game.
"That's what it takes. Especially the situation that we are in health-wise as a team, we know these games are going to be probably closer than we would like. But it is good to see your quarterback standing there, go toe-to-toe, take some shots, and still lead your team down the field for the win."
In the two fourth-quarter scoring drives, Wentz was 5-of-7 for 121 yards with two touchdowns for a 153.3 passer rating. On the night, he completed 25 of 43 attempts for a season-high 359 yards, the most he's ever thrown in a win, with three total touchdowns (one rushing) and an interception for a 91.1 QB rating, also a season high.
"He's a tough dude. Real tough dude. He battles day in and day out. It's not just in the game – all throughout the week. He's a true professional, a true leader. He does what he is supposed to do. His toughness is wild and I have a lot of respect for him," said running back Boston Scott, who scored his fifth career touchdown against the Giants.
"He trusts the guys around him and he trusts himself. We've been playing tight games. He's our leader, and he's going to keep doing his thing. We never faltered. Our mindset, we were never like panicking or frustrated or whatever. We just always knew that we were going to find a way to win this game. And Carson led us and like I said, it was a great team effort."
It wasn't all pretty. The Eagles were a staggering 3-of-8 in the red zone. Three of those drives resulted in zero points, which makes all the difference in a one-point ballgame. Wentz's interception came after he escaped a clean pocket and threw the ball down the left sideline, into the end zone, for rookie wide receiver John Hightower, but it was a gift for Giants cornerback James Bradberry, who did a good job getting his feet in bounds.
Coincidentally, the initial spark for the turnaround came on a deep shot to Hightower. With the Giants playing zone to keep everything in front of them, explosive plays were at a premium. But on first-and-10 from the Eagles' 27, Wentz unleashed a bomb deep down the right sideline, very similar to last week's connection with the rookie, for a 59-yard gain.
It's the third game this season that Wentz has completed a pass of at least 50 yards. That happened twice in all of 2019, and it was the two touchdowns to DeSean Jackson in the season opener.
The Eagles made a concerted effort to get the ball to Jackson, who made his return after missing three games with a hamstring injury. Jackson had three catches for 34 yards and a 12-yard gain on the ground before leaving due to an injury in the fourth quarter on a punt return.
Wentz had to lead the Eagles to victory without another player who returned briefly in tackle Lane Johnson. The All-Pro missed last Sunday's game with a nagging ankle injury. Johnson suffered a knee injury early in the fourth quarter and was replaced by Matt Pryor, who was activated earlier in the day on Thursday from the Reserve/COVID-19 list and didn't practice leading up to the game.
Still, Wentz found a way. Richard Rodgers, the starting tight end with Zach Ertz (ankle) and Dallas Goedert (ankle) on Injured Reserve, had a team-high six receptions for 85 yards. Rodgers had back-to-back catches that netted 41 yards on the game-winning drive.
Outside of the red zone struggles, Wentz held the ball too long at times. On a third-and-9 in the first quarter, deep in their own territory, Wentz had plenty of time to throw before Giants safety Jabrill Peppers took him down. The Giants gained the edge in the field position battle and tied the game on a Daniel Jones 39-yard touchdown pass to Golden Tate.
Wentz got the Eagles on the board first with a 1-yard touchdown run to cap off a brilliantly schemed 11-play, 75-yard drive to open the game. It was his fifth of the season, the most rushing touchdowns by an Eagles quarterback since Michael Vick had nine in 2010.
It was another gritty performance for Wentz, who took 10 hits and was sacked three times. Wentz has been sacked 27 times through seven games, more than any other NFL quarterback this season.
But with the win at hand, Wentz will enjoy some extra rest ahead of another NFC East showdown against the Dallas Cowboys at Lincoln Financial Field on November 1.
"It does a lot for our confidence the way we've really fought to come back in the last couple ballgames," Wentz said. "To actually do it and pull out a win is huge for our confidence and we know it's a divisional game. So it's huge for the NFC East, as well."