Carson Wentz could not have asked for a better start in the Eagles' 34-13 win against the New York Giants on Thursday night.
Starting at the Giants' 16-yard line after the defense intercepted an Eli Manning pass on the second play from scrimmage, Wentz was determined to do what he and the offense preached all week – take advantage of an opportunity and start fast.
On third-and-7, he surveyed the coverage, scrambled to his right as the pocket collapsed, and fired across his body to wide receiver Alshon Jeffery in the end zone. The tough, 13-yard touchdown pass gave Wentz an Eagles-record 19th-straight game with a touchdown. More importantly, it gave the Eagles an early lead.
"The defense made a huge play to put us in good position, then Alshon and I just made a play on third down, the O-line held up, and it just kind of felt like we were rolling from there," Wentz told reporters after the game. "It's not always the smartest thing to throw across your body but when you have a guy like Alshon in the back of the end zone, you can really count on him to make a play."
Wentz finished the game 26-of-36 passing for 278 yards, three touchdowns, and no interceptions. He had no fumbles in five quarterback hits. Wentz was an incredible 13-of-14 on third down as the offense converted on 9 of 16 third-down opportunities. He finished with a 122.2 passer rating, the 11th time in his career with a rating above 100.
"It's just a big win for us," Wentz said. "NFC East, finally get that conference going, short week like it was, cleaned up a handful of mistakes. Obviously, we weren't perfect tonight, but to come out early in the first quarter, get points on the board with that first drive right away, that stuff was huge so it was a big win for us."
Getting a lead early was a focal point all week. Wentz said for any team, having an early lead allows the offense to be more dynamic. Last week, the Eagles only rushed the ball 17 times compared to 35 pass attempts. This week, the Eagles rushed 31 times for 108 yards and passed 36 times.
Mistakes also derailed the Eagles in previous losses. Against the Giants, the offense was responsible for just two accepted penalties, gave up one sack, had no turnovers, and was efficient in the red zone, scoring touchdowns on four of six trips and on all four goal-to-go situations. The Giants were 0-for-3 in the red zone.
"I think more than anything, I think we stayed ahead of the chains, I think we didn't shoot ourselves in the foot, and then really offensively and defensively we fed off each other," Wentz said. "That's something we do so well when we get things rolling, so tonight it was good to get things going."
The Eagles won the time of possession battle 32:30 to 27:30, controlled the ball for 12:28 of the third quarter, and had four possessions in the first quarter. The offense used a balanced, dominant attack to compile 23 first downs and 379 total yards.
Wentz found ways to get the whole offense involved as he completed a pass to eight different receivers in Thursday's win and added 14 rushing yards to Wendell Smallwood's and Corey Clement's combined 94. Wentz said spreading the ball around is "huge" and it was a focal point in last year's potent offense.
"I feel like we're such a balanced offense," Wentz said. "We've got great guys up front in run blocking that can open some lanes and the right backs who can do their jobs. I never feel like I have to take it on my back, so to speak, and I can spread the ball out and get these guys touches in any way I can and coach (Doug Pederson) does a great job with that in the game plan each week and, like I said, it was a great team win tonight."
Wentz had two more touchdowns after the first one to Jeffery. The second one was a 10-yard strike to tight end Zach Ertz, continuing Ertz's historic start to the season. The third came on the first drive of the second half as Wentz delivered a 1-yard screen-pass to Jeffery at the goal line in a play Jeffery said the Eagles poached from the Patriots.
In a solid, mistake-free game, Wentz led the offense in a statement victory. He credited the protection from the offensive line that had troubles in the first half, forcing Wentz to scramble and hold onto the football, but settled in as the game went on. Wentz knew how important this game was and rose to the occasion when it mattered most.
"It's huge," Wentz said. "Obviously being 3-3 is a heck of a lot better than being 2-4. Being 1-0 in the division, there's definitely things we can build on. We can use it as momentum now and kind of point to some things and say, 'Hey, this is who we are, don't forget that, and build from here.'"
Check out the photos from the Eagles' Week 6 game against the rival New York Giants.