Good morning, Eagles fans! It's a Victory Monday edition of the Morning Roundup presented by Microsoft. Let's dig into the storylines that came out of the 20-16 win over the Indianapolis Colts.
1. Carson Wentz's Triumphant Return
The story of yesterday's game was the return of the Eagles' franchise quarterback: Carson Wentz. He lived up to the nine months of hype.
Wentz was 25-of-37 for 255 and a touchdown, an interception, and a lost fumble. He led the team to score a touchdown on his opening drive for the third season in a row and also led the Eagles on a drive that took more than 11 minutes and finished with the game-winning touchdown.
There were concerns of rust or overly-cautious play from Wentz against the Colts. Eagles' Insider Dave Spadaro explains that he answered the bell and quieted those fears in a great debut:
"It felt good to finally be out there. It's kind of a long time coming," Wentz said. "Obviously, a lot of excitement, a lot of emotions. But coming out the way we did with that hot start going right down the field, going some no-huddle tempo, it felt good.
"Emotions were running high from the moment I woke up this morning. But for me, it's always putting on worship music and getting into the zone like that. It just felt like another game at the end of the day."
"Carson was Carson," center Jason Kelce said. "He doesn't change. He's been through this before."
2. Carson Wentz Provides A Boost
Wentz's first start in more than nine months yesterday was a spark for the entire Eagles team. He executed several of his signature plays as he escaped from pressure to complete passes downfield and scrambled for gutsy first-down runs.
The verdict from his teammates was unanimous: Wentz was back and was playing like his old self once again:
"Yep, that's Carson," running back Corey Clement said. "You have to take the leash off of him. That guy - he's always wired to do something great. Whether it's on a pass or a run play, he's going to sell it to the best of his ability and make sure he keeps alive the down.
"He looked just like last year," Clement added. "And that's a blessing. To see a guy come back off an injury like he had and never miss a beat, that's pretty cool."
3. Defense Rebounds, Stands Tall
The Eagles' defense came into Week 3 allowing an NFL-best 12.4 points per game at home since the start of last season, including playoffs. Against the Colts, despite being placed in tough positions due to turnovers, the Eagles' defense allowed just 16 points. To finish the game, the Eagles pulled off what is becoming their signature move: stopping a team on four-straight plays in the red zone to seal the victory.
Defense won the day and carried a shorthanded offense in Wentz's debut when it had to. Alex Smith has more on how the defensive unit bounced back from a tough day in Tampa last week and returned to its regular form:
"That's our standard for defense," defensive end Derek Barnett said after the game. "We may give up a play here or there, but we really hang our hat on not giving up seven points."
4. Wendell Smallwood Seizes The Opportunity
The Eagles' running game was expected to be a concern on Sunday afternoon against the Colts as Jay Ajayi and Darren Sproles had to sit out with injuries. Corey Clement, who shouldered much of the load last week in Tampa with Sproles out and Ajayi exiting the game early, was also banged up and was limited.
So, undrafted rookie running back Josh Adams, who was activated by the practice squad early in the week, took carries. But Wendell Smallwood led the way. The Eagles' fourth-string back finished with 56 yards on 10 carries and scored the game-winning touchdown. Dave Spadaro has more on Smallwood's big game in an important time:
"I feel like we don't blink when we know we've got to do something," Smallwood said. "When we've got that pressure on us, don't think about it. We just go out there and do. We've practiced those situations through camp, so we know what to expect.
"On the touchdown, I was not going to be denied. I saw two safeties playing high and that means they were playing zone. I just had to be patient and wait for Kelce (center, Jason) and Wiz (left guard Stefen Wisniewski) to get their double-team in place and then I saw the hole and I got through it."
5. Tight Ends Carry The Offense
The Eagles' offense was shorthanded yesterday as running backs Jay Ajayi and Darren Sproles sat out along with wide receivers Alshon Jeffery, Mike Wallace, and Mack Hollins.
The lack of weapons, as well as the defensive scheme for the Colts, made the use of tight ends an emphasis in the Eagles' gameplan early in the week. All three tight ends were used prominently on Sunday, often on the field at the same time, as Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert led all receivers with 73 yards each:
"We've talked about it the last couple weeks. We had the potential to do it, and this week, with Mike Wallace going down last week, it was kind of more of an implemented thing," Goedert told reporters after the game. "We knew we were going to start in it and it was early on in the week, so we knew what was coming. We were able to prepare for it, and I think we executed it really well."
Take a look at the best photos from the 2018 Eagles Hall of Fame induction ceremony.