The chants were faint, delivered by a deliriously happy crowd at Lincoln Financial Field, but they were audible, with 11:10 remaining in the fourth quarter. "MVP. MVP. MVP." Quarterback Carson Wentz had just delivered his fourth touchdown pass of the night in a 34-24 win over Washington and the fans couldn't hold back.
"MVP! MVP! MVP!"
In another virtuoso performance on Monday night, Wentz tossed four touchdowns, completing 17 of 25 passes for 268 yards and an interception that basically served as a punt on the most horrific opening offensive drive the Eagles have had in many moons. Wentz has thrown at least three touchdown passes in three straight games, the first time an Eagles quarterback has accomplished that feat since Bobby Thomason in 1953. But it was more than touchdown passes for Wentz, as it always is.
He made plays that just didn't seem possible, like the touchdown pass to running back Corey Clement that came when Wentz, climbing the pocket, was hit by two Redskins defenders and threw the ball – perfectly, by the way – as he was falling forward. Then there was the scramble that Wentz had on the drive that led to his fourth touchdown pass, to wide receiver Nelson Agholor, on which Wentz was swallowed up in an evaporating pocket and somehow ducked under the mass of humanity and ran for 17 yards and a first down.
Plays. Many plays. Always with Wentz, who kept his cool after the Eagles opened the game in a butt-ugly kind of way, with four penalties, and at one point facing a first-and-33 snap from their own 5-yard line. A snap later, Wentz fired a ball down the field and the Eagles gladly accepted a Washington interception that gave the Redskins possession at their 42-yard line.
"It was the worst way to start a game that I've ever experienced," center Jason Kelce said. "It was just ... awful. I'm glad we got past it."
Get past it they did. The Eagles scored 17 points in the second quarter, another seven in the third quarter, and a clinching 10 in the fourth quarter, rolling to 23 first downs, 371 total net yards of offense, an average of 6.1 yards per play and 6 of 12 conversions on third down.
After doing absolutely nothing in the first quarter.
So yeah, maybe an MVP chant is worthy as the Eagles sit with an NFL-best 6-1 record.
"Amazing," tight end Zach Ertz said when asked to describe Wentz's play this season. "You can't describe the way he's playing right now. He's playing at an unreal level, MVP-type level, probably. I know a lot of people are saying that, but he's doing amazing things for this football team, amazing things for this city, so we're really glad to have him."
As much as Wentz has already done in his second Eagles season, he's got an even greater burden of responsibility after a victory that gave the Eagles a two-game lead in the NFC East over Dallas in the loss column and knocked Washington down in a big way, but also potentially came at a heavy price with the loss of middle linebacker Jordan Hicks and left tackle Jason Peters. Those two players won't be easy to replace, for however long they are out.
But Wentz is doing what the superstar quarterbacks do, and the truth is, we haven't seen this kind of play at the position in, um, forever. He is playing the position beyond brilliantly, in total command, and not allowing a wisp of doubt or frenetic play in his performance. With that, Wentz is making everyone around him better - players, coaches, and fans.
The feeling is this: You do your job and Carson will do his and everything will be just fine.
"He's doing some great things, making some great plays. That play to Corey? That was a helluva play," wide receiver Alshon Jeffery said. "I don't know if I would have seen that one coming. He came up out of that pressure and he didn't flinch. He just threw the ball and it was a touchdown.
"That play where he was nearly sacked, I thought he was down and then there he is running for a first down. It's pretty amazing."
Once the Eagles got things rolling in the second quarter, the offense was beautiful to watch. Wentz started things with a 64-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Mack Hollins, who ran a streak down the right sideline and then ran away from the Washington secondary for the score to tie the game at 10-10. The offense came right back and Wentz connected with Ertz for a red zone touchdown, Ertz's fifth of the season, a career high.
Leading 17-10 to start the third quarter, the Eagles drove to Washington's 9-yard line and on third-and-goal Washington's pass rush buckled the pocket. Wentz stepped up and, as he was going down to the ground, threw a perfect pass in the right corner of the end zone for Clement, who made a leaping grab – spectacular catch – and came down inbounds and the Eagles had control of the football game.
As Jeffery said, amazing.
Then in the early portion of the fourth quarter, Wentz made a play on third-and-8 with his legs. The Eagles led 24-17. It was still very much a ballgame. Wentz dropped back and the pass rush came again. The pocket collapsed and Wentz looked done. Cooked. A sack was coming and a drive was over.
The game would still be hanging in the balance.
Except that Wentz ducked under the pressure and bolted away to gain 17 yards to keep the drive alive. Six plays later he threw the touchdown pass to Agholor for the game-sealing touchdown.
"I was trying to hold him up, actually, but Carson is so big and strong and he just shrugs people off," Kelce said. "What he did there, that was a great play. He makes a lot of them."
When it was over and the Eagles had won their fifth straight game, Wentz ran off the field and heard it again, this time louder and more noticeable near the team tunnel: "MVP! MVP! MVP!" It had a nice ring to it, and it was, once again, well deserved.
The Philadelphia Eagles defeated the Washington Redskins 34-24 on Monday Night Football.