Carson Wentz shows the way in Eagles' opening-season win over Redskins
Admit it: you didn’t know what to expect from Carson Wentz.
Practice is one thing. Games are another, and the Eagles quarterback didn’t take a snap in the preseason.
He hadn’t been on the field since last December.
Turns out, Wentz was just fine, more than fine.
After a slow start, Wentz turned up the heat in the second half of Sunday’s 32-27 win over the Washington Redskins, and finished with a three-touchdown day, that may become four after the NFL has a chance to review the game film.
“It felt great to finally get out there,” said Wentz, who threw for 313 yards, completing 28 of 39 throws for a passer rating of 121.0. “It was a long offseason with a lot of things going on, so to finally be out here in front of our fans, running out of the tunnel, it felt awesome.
“Obviously, it was a little bit of a slower start than we would have liked as a team, but it was good to see our resilience and how we stayed together, do what we do.”
The Redskins grabbed a 17-0 lead while scoring on their first three possessions and led 20-7 at halftime.
VIDEO: Carson Wentz talks about how he felt in his return and the offense's slow start
The Eagles were booed of the field on their way to the tunnel for intermission.
When they returned, everything was different, including a defense allowed the comeback to happen.
The running game began to work, and the Eagles ended with 123 yards rushing, with Darren Sproles getting 47 of those yards and Jordan Howard 44.
Wentz was particularly happy with the 19-play drive that virtually ended the game with a 22-yard field goal from Jake Elliott with 3:10 to play in the final quarter that gave the Eagles a 32-20 lead. The drive consumed 8 minutes, 55 seconds of the clock and traveled 74 yards.
“I thought he had a great game,” said DeSean Jackson, who caught two of Wentz’s touchdown throws, both from more than 50 yards out. “Once again, this is his show and he is driving the car.
"It is good to have a quarterback that has the confidence at any given time he can come to the line of scrimmage and can do whatever he wants because of the play style we have and the players in our huddle and our locker room.”
Wentz was 12-for-18 for 112 yards in the first half with one TD.
In the second half, he engineered points on the first four of his team’s possessions, with three touchdown drives on the first three possessions.
“I thought he played within himself,” said head coach Doug Pederson. “I thought he really saw the field extremely well. Distributed the ball well. Made the checks that we needed him to make. He played well.”
Wentz was brilliant on third downs, converting 11-of-16 for a 64 percent efficiency rating.
“Third down and red zone is something we always work on,” said Wentz. “A lot of teams give up on third-and-long and just take a screen. We’re going to just take what there is there sometimes, but we’re going to try to push the ball down the field when we can and make plays. It was good to see that we were able to do that.”
Wentz may ultimately get credit for another passing touchdown since he had to make a throw to Alshon Jeffery on the first play of the fourth quarter. Jeffery caught ball and banged in for a two-yard score. The play was ruled a behind the line of scrimmage pass, and that meant it was a rushing touchdown.
When congratulated for the first rushing TD of his career, Jeffery replied back, “That was no rush.”
Informed that was the ruling, Jeffery said, “Really? That’s not right.”
Even Wentz didn’t know about it until his postgame press conference.
“That’s news to me,” said Wentz. “Well, I guess Alshon has a rushing touchdown.”
If so, it would be the first of Jeffery’s career. It was his first carry since the 2014 season when he had six of them for 33 yards. In 2013, he had 16 rushes for 105 yards.
Jeffery ended with five catches for 49 yards, including a 5-yard TD pass from Wentz, who had to scramble to keep the play alive then find Jeffery cutting across the back of the end zone.
“Alshon does such a great job of body control boxing guys out,” said Wentz. “He’s being strong to the catch. I was rolling out and saw the linebacker on him, so I wanted to give him that shot every time. I believe he’s going to come down with it 99 percent of the time. That’s the kind of player he is, especially when we get down into the red zone. To go snatch that ball out of the air, it’s good to see.”
It was also good to see Wentz perform the way he did without any preseason work.
NOTES: Brandon Brooks was on a play-count. It was 30, but the right guard, who was returning from tearing his Achilles less than eight months ago, talked his way into playing 55 snaps before yielding to Halapoulivaati Vaitai…
Thirty-six-year-old Darren Sproles needed 163 all-purpose yards to move into fifth all-time in NFL history. He knocked 109 yards off that total with a strong day, collecting 47 yards rushing, 16 receiving, and 46 returning four punts. “Sproles, we call him Unc,” said Alshon Jeffery. “Unc is always having fun, he’s always flying around, and he has lots of energy. He’s always doing everything at full speed.”