All week quarterback Carson Wentz came under fire from various media and some Eagles fans for not being “clutch” enough.
Well, how clutch was the Eagles quarterback in Sunday’s 24-18 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars across the pond inside Wembley Stadium?
Does a 13-yard run on third-and-11 late in the second quarter count?
How about, on the very next play after Wentz did that, a nifty backside throw to Dallas Goedert for a 32-yard touchdown with just 28 seconds left in the half for a 10-6 lead? Wentz rolled right then threw back to his left for Goedert.
Still not convinced?
How about a second-and-10 throw to Jordan Matthews that went for 13 yards that helped keep alive an Eagles drive that allowed them to keep their offense on the field to drain off the final two minutes of the game with kneel-downs?
We could play this game all day, but here’s more:
Wentz played with a makeshift offensive line that, for much of the first half, was without both starting tackles in Lane Johnson and Jason Peters, which required Isaac Seumalo to move from left guard to left tackle, Stefen Wisniewski to take over Seumalo’s post, and Halapoulivaati Vaitai to step in at right tackle.
Peters returned in the second half, but the news may not be so good for Johnson. Even with a bye week to get healthy again, Johnson reportedly suffered a strained MCL and could be out a month.
Then there are Wentz’s numbers. He was 21-for-30 for 286 yards and three touchdowns, and, even with an interception, a passer rating of 119.6. He ran for another 28 yards on six carries and he even caught a pass that was batted right back to him and scrambled for a first down. Yes, he fumbled and he threw that pick, but Wentz kept making plays.
Matthews did, too. The receiver had four catches for 93 yards, each catch seemingly better and more important than the previous one.
Zach Ertz caught his third touchdown in the last four games.
Rookie Josh Adams ran for 61 yards on nine carries, but still had to suffer through a long replay review to determine whether or not he had fumbled late in the game, a mistake that would’ve given the Jaguars good field position to try to retake the lead. It was determined that Adams did not fumble and the Eagles got to keep the ball, if only momentarily since the Eagles had to punt two plays later.
That is where the defense came up big.
Really, that’s what has been the problem with the Eagles in crushing losses to the Tennessee Titans in Week Four and last week against the Carolina Panthers.
It hasn’t been about Wentz. Did he have the ball in his hands with a chance to win and not make a play against the Panthers? Sure. Not every quarterback comes up with a game winning play, especially one in just his third season and still finding his way after two ligaments repaired in the offseason. Medical people say it takes a full year for a player who has suffered an ACL injury to actually feel 100 percent again.
This season hasn’t been about Wentz, and shame on those for making it that way.
It has been about the defense.
This time, it made a stop when it had one was required.
It came on fourth-and-two after the Jaguars has breached midfield with less than four minutes to play. Fletcher Cox applied the pressure on Blake Bortles and Ronald Darby the coverage on Donte Moncrief to force an incompletion. That turned the ball back to the Eagles, who never gave it back, thanks to Wentz’s completion to Matthews and a 10-yard run by Wendell Smallwood (eight carries, 24 yards) on second-and-nine that sealed the win.
Before all that, though, it looked like another Groundhog Day for the defense.
Prior to the fourth-and-two stop, the Jaguars had a fourth-and-one. Jaguars coach Doug Marrone decided to go for it with 4:26 still left to play and all three timeouts in their pocket. Bortles converted with his legs, gaining four yards.
Bortles, who had been 3-0 in Wembley Stadium with eight touchdown passes and only interception, hurt the Eagles most of the game with his legs, gaining 43 yards on eight carries.
Linebacker Jordan Hicks played another strong game, ending with a game-high 12 tackles and 1.5 sacks. Hicks has played every snap so far this season for the Eagles.
In the end, this win was about the defense and making a stop it was unable to make against the Titans and Panthers. Tha, along with the continued strong play of Wentz and some others on offense stepping up, is a big reason the Eagles are 4-4, with half the season remaining.