Phenomenal second half from Carson Wentz, Eagles offense turns opener around

Nobody would divulge the exact phrasing that wide receiver DeSean Jackson used to speak to his teammates at halftime of Sunday’s 32-27 season-opening win over Washington at Lincoln Financial Field, but he was animated. He was excited. The Eagles were trailing 20-7 and the fans who were beyond amped to get this 2019 campaign started let the team have a heartful of emotion as the players ran toward the locker room after two quarters.

“I’m going to keep what DeSean said to myself, within the team,” offensive guard Brandon Brooks said, “but he was pretty fired up. I think it helped get some guys’ attention. We had urgency – it’s impossible not to when you start the game down 17-0 – but we needed to get ourselves into a different mindset in the second half and we did that."

The Eagles went on a 25-0 run before Washington scored again late in the fourth quarter, by which time the game was all but over. Sparked by a gutsy go-for-it call on a fourth-and-1 play from the Philadelphia 34-yard line on the first offensive possession of the third quarter – Carson Wentz ran the quarterback sneak to perfection to gain the first down and keep the drive alive, the Eagles went on touchdown drives of 12 plays and 75 yards, three plays and 53 yards, and then nine plays and 71 yards to go up, 29-20 (including a two-point conversion run by the amazing Darren Sproles).

A crazy, 19-play, 74-yard clock-eating (8 minutes, 55 seconds) drive led to a Jake Ellliott 22-yard field goal and a 32-20 lead with 3:10 remaining in the game.

It was a devastating display of offense from a unit that expects to destroy defenses with its versatility all season.

“I just had some plays come my way,” wide receiver Alshon Jeffery said after he caught five passes for 49 yards and a touchdown in the victory. “In this offense, everybody is going to get touches and chances to make big plays. You have to make the most of your chances when you get them, and we did that today.”

The Eagles gained a whopping 302 yards of total net offense in the second half, converting 8 of 10 third-down plays. They got the running game rolling – Pederson dialed up the run on nine plays in that 12-play, 75-yard touchdown drive to open the third quarter – as they rotated in Darren Sproles (game-high 47 rushing yards, two-point conversion), Jordan Howard (44 yards on six carries), and rookie Miles Sanders (11 carries, 25 yards). The Eagles gained 123 yards on 31 rushing attempts.

Of course, the Eagles also unleashed the Wentz-to-Jackson bombs-away attack and the two clicked. If there was any worry that it would take the two time to gain chemistry, well, those fears are no longer. On 10 targets, Jackson caught eight passes for 154 yards and a pair of scores.

“We’re going to keep going after you,” Sproles said. “We have a lot of weapons here. We spread it around and keep a defense off balance. You don’t know what’s coming next.”

What’s coming is a game in Atlanta on Sunday night, a prime-time showcase for an offense that is as balanced as any in the league. Wentz was sensational with 313 passing yards and three touchdowns, avoiding pressure and showing brilliance on third down with 12 completions on 13 attempts for 197 yards. All three of his touchdown passes came on third down (Jeffery was credited with a 2-yard run for another touchdown on a wide receiver screen that the Eagles used plenty of times last season). He also converted two third-down situations with a quarterback sneak.

This was vintage Wentz. He had great ball security, he spread the ball around to eight receivers, and Wentz kept his cool with the team down 17 points early in the second quarter and then 13 points at the half.

“I thought he played within himself. I thought he really saw the field extremely well. Distributed the ball well. Made the checks that we needed to make,” Pederson said. “He played well.”

Added up, Sunday was a great way to start the season. The Lincoln Financial Field crowd was, naturally, incredible and loud and dialed in from start to finish. The Eagles started way too slowly, but they kept their cool and then when they had a chance to vent just a little bit, a veteran leader like Jackson – who would have said that six seasons ago? – stepped up and made his presence known in the locker room. He’d already done that in the first half, running away from Washington’s secondary and settling under a perfectly thrown Wentz pass to catch and then run to complete a 51-yard touchdown play.

Sometimes, a team needs a little jolt. And Jackson delivered that jolt in a halftime locker room speech that startled the Eagles into looking like a totally different team in the second half.

“It was fun out there,” Howard said following his Eagles debut. “We took some time to settle down, but once we did, we played with confidence. Everybody had their chances and you see what we did. That’s how it has to be every time we’re on the field, every week. I think the sky is the limit for the offense. We saw a little bit of that today.”

A little bit went a long way as the Eagles opened with a W against a division foe and Pederson won his fourth straight opening-game victory as head coach. Now it’s on to Atlanta, with the goal of putting the offense on display in front of a national audience clicking for 60 minutes against a Falcons team that will be desperate after losing today to Minnesota. The possibilities are frightening when the Eagles on rolling on offense. After a glimpse of that ability on Sunday, the Eagles think the best is yet to come.

This was vintage Wentz. He had great ball security, he spread the ball around to eight receivers, and Wentz kept his cool with the team down 17 points early in the second quarter and then 13 points at the half.

“I thought he played within himself. I thought he really saw the field extremely well. Distributed the ball well. Made the checks that we needed to make,” Pederson said. “He played well.”

Added up, Sunday was a great way to start the season. The Lincoln Financial Field crowd was, naturally, incredible and loud and dialed in from start to finish. The Eagles started way too slowly, but they kept their cool and then when they had a chance to vent just a little bit, a veteran leader like Jackson – who would have said that six seasons ago? – stepped up and made his presence known in the locker room. He’d already done that in the first half, running away from Washington’s secondary and settling under a perfectly thrown Wentz pass to catch and then run to complete a 51-yard touchdown play.

Sometimes, a team needs a little jolt. And Jackson delivered that jolt in a halftime locker room speech that startled the Eagles into looking like a totally different team in the second half.

“It was fun out there,” Howard said following his Eagles debut. “We took some time to settle down, but once we did, we played with confidence. Everybody had their chances and you see what we did. That’s how it has to be every time we’re on the field, every week. I think the sky is the limit for the offense. We saw a little bit of that today.”

A little bit went a long way as the Eagles opened with a W against a division foe and Pederson won his fourth straight opening-game victory as head coach. Now it’s on to Atlanta, with the goal of putting the offense on display in front of a national audience clicking for 60 minutes against a Falcons team that will be desperate after losing today to Minnesota. The possibilities are frightening when the Eagles on rolling on offense. After a glimpse of that ability on Sunday, the Eagles think the best is yet to come.

Take a look at the best photos from the Eagles' Week 1 matchup against Washington.

Related Content

Advertising