Carson Wentz isn’t clutch. He can’t win a game in the fourth quarter.
That was the growing swell of sentiment among a portion of the Eagles’ fan base, after Wentz failed to deliver with the ball in his hands against the Carolina Panthers and Tennessee Titans. Never mind, however, that the Eagles’ quarterback led a comeback win over the Colts in the fourth quarter in Week Three, his first game back from offseason knee surgery.
Well, does Sunday count now? It has to, right?
The Eagles had just allowed the New York Giants to kick a game-tying field goal and got the ball back with 5 minutes, 49 seconds to play. Wentz was undaunted this time, directing a 10-play march that covered 50 yards and took 5:27 to execute. He even completed a 12-yard pass to Nelson Agholor on fourth-and-one from the Giants’ 42-yard line with 2:39 to play.
Wentz said he simply went through his progressions on the throw to Agholor.
“They were in zone coverage and it kind of just parted there in the middle,” he said. “He (Agholor) came up with arguably the biggest catch of the day.”
The drive ended with a 43-yard field goal from Jake Elliott with 22 seconds left and the Eagles escaped with a 25-22 win after falling behind 19-3 in the first half at Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday.
“I think people have been clamoring for that, wanting to see him to do it in the clutch,” said tight end Zach Ertz, who caught his sixth red-zone touchdown of the season, a 15-yarder with 1:04 to play in the first half that pulled the Eagles to within 19-11 after Corey Clement’s two-point conversion run on an option pitch from Wentz.
“We have all the faith in the world in him. He continually puts us on his back. All the time he plays at a high level. Even at times when the protection isn’t great, he’s out there making plays. He’s the guy I want to play with in the fourth quarter.”
Prior to kickoff, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported that a source told him Wentz still isn’t 100 percent recovered from the two ligaments he had repaired in his left knee. It’s not a surprise, really, since it typically takes a year for a full recovery to happen, yet it was easy to be fooled since Wentz was completing over 70 percent of his passes with 15 touchdowns and three interceptions heading into last week’s game in New Orleans.
Against the Saints, however, he threw three picks and had his streak of 22 straight games with a touchdown throw snapped.
“I think it was important for everyone to come out and rebound and put last week behind us,” said Wentz.
Wentz never makes it about him. Even at less than 100 percent, he is better than most. He finished off the Giants by completing 20 of 28 throw for 236 yards with one touchdown pass, giving him 16 in nine games this year and is now 4-1 against New York in his career.
“As long as No. 11 is balling, we’re balling,” said left tackle Jason Peters. “We have to keep the defense off him and let him ball.”
The offensive line can do better in that regard. Wentz was sacked three times and hit another six times.
It helped that he had a run game to lean on. Josh Adams hammered out 84 yards on 22 carries and Clement added another 45 on five carries.
“They always say that the running game is the best friend of a quarterback, and that was 100 percent true (Sunday),” said Wentz. “We leaned on them on that big drive to put us up late in the fourth. Did I even throw the ball? I think we had just one screen and other than that, it was all handoffs. That was huge to just lean on those guys and they did a great job.”
The drive Wentz is talking about is the one that gave the Eagles their first lead of the day and wiped out their 16-point deficit, taking a 20-19 lead on Adams’ one-yard dive with 10:15 to play in the fourth quarter. It was a drive that featured Adams, who had five carries for 28 yards. Clement had a carry for eight yards. The one throw was a 23-yard completion to Clement.
In total, the drive covered 61 yards in seven plays and spanned 3:54. A two-point conversion run by Adams gave the Birds a 22-19 lead.
Wentz did his part when it came time to win the game though on the next drive. He completed all three throws for 43 yards, including the clutch 12-yard strike to Agholor.
“Carson did a great job of going through all of his reads because we had a man option and a zone option,” said Agholor, who was held without a catch last week against the Saints. “I was the zone option. You have to think about it. When they see crossers coming across their face, linebackers expand. Carson does a great job with his eyes and moving guys and comes back to me and we were able to be efficient.”
It was a must-win, one that was aided by Wentz coming up big in the clutch.