Philadelphia Eagles News

The best of Carson Wentz emerges to save the season

Carson Wentz wouldn't let the Eagles lose this one. Uh-uh. No way. With the Eagles facing a 14-point deficit and the Lincoln Financial Field crowd beyond restless and throwing to receivers named Joshua Perkins and Greg Ward and J.J. Arcega-Whiteside and Boston Scott, Wentz put together a signature performance. Working the pocket magically, escaping from pressure with his legs, and at all times keeping his eyes down the field, Wentz delivered a 23-17 overtime win on Monday night against the New York Giants that was, in a word, epic.

The victory lifted the Eagles into a tie with Dallas atop the NFC East at 6-7 with three games to play. Wentz's stat line – 33-of-50 for 325 yards and a pair of touchdowns – didn't quite do him justice. He was brilliant. He was resourceful. He rebounded from a painful first half to complete 22 of 31 passes for 228 yards and two touchdowns and Wentz led the Eagles to a crucial win, their first in eight games this season in which they trailed in the fourth quarter.

Nobody really said as much after the game, but it was the kind of fourth-quarter comeback and overtime victory that Wentz needed. That's how much this game meant.

"It's big. It's big for me and for all of these guys," Wentz said. "You know, the emotional roller coaster of the day and obviously realizing how poor we were in the first half and just how it spring-boarded us into the second half. We just made plays and kept making plays. Winning late in overtime like this, it's been a while. Shoot, I don't think I've had an overtime win. That was just a lot of fun."

Wentz's final pass was a 2-yard completion to tight end Zach Ertz, his ninth catch (on 13 targets) and his second touchdown, to complete an eight-play, 75-yard winning drive to open overtime. On that drive, Wentz completed short passes to running back Miles Sanders (11 yards), Perkins (13 yards), and Ward (8 yards), while Scott gained 25 yards on a run, Sanders had a 10-yard run, and Scott picked up another 6 before the game-winning throw to Ertz, who ran an inside post moving left to right in the formation and was wide open in the end zone.

That final drive was a 180-degree turn from most of the offensive output through the first half and into the third quarter, when it was just ugly at Lincoln Financial Field.

"We couldn't get anything going," Ward said. "We kept moving guys around, but we made too many mistakes and lost chances. But we hung in there and we stuck together and it paid off."

The offense, hampered all season by injuries, started the game without wide receiver Nelson Agholor and running back Jordan Howard and then lost wide receiver Alshon Jeffery (foot) and right tackle Lane Johnson (ankle), both of whom were carted off the sidelines to the locker room.

By the time the Eagles got to the half, they were down 17-3, thanks to two long touchdown connections from Giants quarterback Eli Manning to wide receiver Darius Slayton – the first a 35-yard catch-and-run on which cornerback Ronald Darby missed a tackle and the second a 55-yard play on which Slayton ran past Darby and safety Rodney McLeod to get open and make the play – and the fans booed lustily as the teams headed to their respective locker rooms.

Not until midway through the third quarter did the Eagles' offense become untracked. Maybe it was a 10-yard pass from Wentz to Scott to convert a third-and-5 play that opened things up, because right after that Wentz completed a 6-yard pass to Perkins over the middle, then went to Ertz for 9 yards before Scott had two runs totaling 15 yards.

Scott finished off the 10-play, 58-yard scoring drive with a 2-yard run and the Eagles were within 17-10 and starting to feel it. They had already stretched the limits of the gameday roster – only backup quarterbacks Josh McCown and Nate Sudfeld suited up but did not play – but they weren't done yet.

Not by a long shot.

The offense missed a chance early in the fourth quarter when Ward couldn't hang on to a perfect Wentz throw in the end zone and then Jake Elliott missed a 47-yard field goal wide left, but the Eagles came right back on the next possession to put together a beauty of a drive – 14 plays and 85 yards that featured a little bit of everything and a lot of Wentz magic.

He converted three third downs and one fourth down on the drive, completing 7 of 10 passes for 84 yards. The drive ended on a Wentz touchdown pass to Ertz to convert a third-and-goal play from the 2-yard line on the first play after the two-minute warning.

The Eagles, after a defensive stop, were heading for overtime for the first time this season. It wouldn't last long.

Philadelphia won the toss after the Giants called "tails" on the coin flip and the offense continued its momentum. Starting from the 25-yard line, Wentz completed a short pass to Sanders that gained 11 yards. Scott then showed his burst with a 25-yard run to the right side and the Eagles were already in Giants territory at the 39-yard line. A completion to Perkins gained 13 yards. Two plays later, Wentz threw for Ward to the 18-yard line. Sanders ran left to the 8-yard line for a 10-yard gain and Scott barreled to the 2-yard line for a 6-yard pickup.

Out of the shotgun on second-and-goal from the 2-yard line, Wentz looked into the middle of the end zone for Ertz for the easy pitch and catch, and bedlam ensued.

Wentz wasn't the only hero – the defense stepped up and allowed only 29 yards and two first downs in the second half, Ertz was a monster again, the trio of Scott, Perkins, and Ward combined for 199 of the team's 418 yards from scrimmage, the Eagles controlled the football for an outrageous 42 minutes, 51 seconds, and the playcalling and use of personnel was just great given all the challenges the Eagles faced – but the quarterback gets a big A-plus for this one.

Wentz was just terrific as he used his legs to get away from pressure, as he used his arm to get the football into tight windows, and as he used his head and leadership skills to remain calm and poised in the face of some serious, is-this-really-happening? adversity through the course of a game that could have ended, for all practical purposes in terms of will and spirit, the Eagles' season.

None of it happened. Wentz wouldn't let it happen.

"It's huge for us. Obviously, we realized it was a sloppy game for a while, but the way guys just hung tough and stayed together more importantly," Wentz said. "Obviously, we dealt with some injuries and some other guys stepping up and making plays and that was huge. You've got (tight end Joshua Perkins), you've got Ward, you've got J.J. (Arcega-Whiteside), (right tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai) is out there. You've got guys all over the field, Boston Scott. Guys stepping up and making plays. I think that's huge for each of those individual's confidence and ours as an offense and as a team and each of those guys are going to keep making plays and that's big for us."

It was a confidence booster and a season saver, and for a few hours the Eagles celebrated before getting back to work and preparing for Sunday's game at Washington knowing that what they did on a rainy Monday night in front of a national television audience was a little bit of magic and a lot of Carson Wentz carrying the team to victory.

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