Did Carson Wentz Play Best game of his Career on Monday?
PHILADELPHIA - There was rain, there was the pressure of having to win to keep playoff hopes alive, there was an offensive lineup held together by a backup tackle and a bunch of former practice squad players, and there was a 17-3 halftime deficit to overcome.
Those are some of the reasons Eagles head coach Doug Pederson believes quarterback Carson Wentz played the best game of his four-year career on Monday night in the Eagles’ come-from-behind 23-17 overtime win against the New York Giants.
“You think about some of the big games he's been in,” Pederson said. “Go all the way back to the Rams game in '17 where he was playing, he was having an MVP season that year. That was a big game obviously to help us win the NFC East. Even though he got hurt that day, that was a big game. There's been games like that where he's had big games.
“But this one, to be down the way we were, and to lose another receiver, to lose your right tackle, and to really step up and make the plays in those conditions, too, really to me, I feel like that's his best he's played. Something he can continue to grow and work on.”
Wentz will try to replicate that effort on Sunday when the Eagles play in Washington.
He was 33-for-50 with 325 yards passing on Monday night, and his two touchdown passes extended his streak of throwing one to 16 straight games, which is the longest active streak in the NFL.
It didn't seem like Wentz's best game when factoring in a first half that saw him throw for just 97 yards on 11-for-19 passing.
Pederson, though, didn't seem to take that into account when making his proclamation.
And let's not forget Wentz did it against a team with a poor secondary that came in with an eight-game losing streak and would end the night tying a franchise record with its ninth consecutive loss.
The same pressure for Wentz will be there in Washington, because any loss by the Eagles will jeopardize their chances of capturing the NFC East and making the playoffs for a third straight season. The same personnel that filled in for in-game injuries to right tackle Lane Johnson and receiver Alshon Jeffery will be there, too, because neither player will be available Sunday.
That means Halapoulivaati Vaitai will be in for Johnson again and a cast of practice squad players – Boston Scott, Josh Perkins and Greg Ward - will try to keep the offense afloat with Wentz.
“The pressure that we may feel now is that every game is a must-win,” Pederson said. “For (Wentz), that's just where our team is. Our team has to understand that. I don't think that because he hasn't, the last two seasons, played in these games I think he's past that, we're past that. We're too far down the road.
"I think where we are as a team, if this makes sense, just the pressure of having to win this game because of what's at stake I think is more important for all of us.”
Wentz hasn’t had to handle much late-season pressure, where it’s basically a win-or-else situation. He has only played two early December games the past two years before being sidelined by injury. In 2017, he tore two knee ligaments and last year his season ended with a stress fracture in his back.
The quarterback has never played in a playoff game and his record in December is 3-6, which includes a 1-4 mark in his rookie season of 2016.
“I think he gains more confidence with his teammates, in him and his ability,” said Pederson. “Listen, I played with one of the greatest fourth-quarter quarterbacks in Brett Favre, and really Dan Marino for that matter, but Brett Favre for eight years. You can see it, when it gets crunch time, you put it on the quarterback, and guys rally.
“That's what we saw (Monday). I think that's now what you're going to see. Hopefully you see as we continue to grow as a team, hopefully years to come, that's the case, that the guys now can ascend around Carson, and we can put it on his shoulders and say, ‘Hey, let's go win the game.’”