ATLANTA – Tight end Dallas Goedert spent the entire game on Sunday night in uniform, on the Eagles sidelines, giving the appearance that he was ready to play against the Atlanta Falcons but nursing a calf injury that forced him off the field during pre-game warmups. Wide receivers Alshon Jeffery and DeSean Jackson saw a few snaps each before coming off the field, Jeffery with a calf injury and Jackson a groin injury.
"We'll check tomorrow, when we get back," Doug Pederson said on the seriousness of the injuries. "It's hard to comment on those injuries right now. Long-term, we don't know."
Three of the weapons at quarterback Carson Wentz's disposal in this explosive, beat-a-defense-in-a-number-of-ways offense essentially spent the entire game watching from the sidelines.
And the Eagles felt the impact.
Without Goedert, the Eagles had just one tight end, Zach Ertz, available to play. The team has only two tight ends on the 53-man roster, with Alex Ellis on the practice squad after being active on gameday for the regular-season opener against Washington. Minus Jeffery and Jackson, the Eagles went with Nelson Agholor, Mack Hollins, and J.J. Arcega-Whiteside. While Wentz and Agholor have had plenty of reps and have developed chemistry in the past three seasons, neither Hollins nor Arcega-Whiteside have worked much with Wentz.
"Well, the adjustments started in the first quarter when guys started falling for us," Pederson said. "I give credit to Mike Groh and Jeff Stoutland in the run game and passing game, keeping guys like J.J. and Mack Hollins and the running backs and Nelly and Zach, just keeping them kind of abreast to what we were doing and the changes we were making. We had to switch some personnel groups tonight in mid-stream which is hard to do. I give credit to those guys for doing it."
It showed, as Wentz threw errantly for much of the first half, when he completed just 6 of 16 passes for 47 yards, with two interceptions. Wentz compiled a passer rating of 6.2. Wentz averaged just 2.4 yards per passing attempt before he left the field and went into the blue medical tent for evaluation of a possible concussion as Josh McCown came on and led the offense for six snaps of the final drive of the second quarter. McCown completed 3 of 5 passes for 24 yards before Wentz returned.
"Things just began to kind of snowball a little bit, but the fact that we hung in there and battled, gave ourselves a chance, we had the lead there late in the game," Pederson said. "It's really what these games come down to, it's just a couple plays here and there that can go in your favor or the other way. Tonight, they went their way."
This one didn't quite reach the level of total insanity, but for that spell late in the second quarter the Eagles were down to three wide receivers, one tight end and one quarterback. They used Darren Sproles across the formation as a wide receiver and they tried to make the most of an obviously difficult situation.
Despite all of that, the Eagles trailed just 17-12 late in the third quarter after a Wentz touchdown pass to Agholor on a fourth-and-goal from the 4-yard line. The two-point conversion failed as Wentz was stopped just short of the end zone on a scramble run before Atlanta came back and drove into the red zone before linebacker Nathan Gerry picked off a Matt Ryan pass in the end zone to stymie another drive.
Wentz picked the Eagles up from the ground in the fourth quarter, providing another "must-see-it" throw as he muscled the ball across the middle 17 yards to Hollins to convert a third down while being pulled to the ground by Falcons edge rusher Vic Beasley. Wentz capped off the drive with a 1-yard QB sneak and an emphatic spike in the end zone to give the Eagles a 20-17 lead with 3:13 remaining in the game.
After the Falcons went back on top thanks to a Julio Jones 54-yard catch-and-run touchdown, the Eagles had one last gasp. On fourth-and-14, Wentz was able to launch the ball in a muddied pocket to Agholor for an incredible 44-yard gain. But four plays later, Wentz's fourth-and-8 pass over the middle to Ertz was stopped just short of the sticks by cornerback Isaiah Oliver.
At the end of the night, Wentz finished 25-of-43 for 231 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions for a 61.3 QB rating.
Check out the best photos from the Eagles Sunday-night matchup against the Falcons.