The Philadelphia Eagles came away with a very important victory over the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday afternoon, moving to 11-2, clinching the NFC East, and reclaiming the top seed in the NFC Conference.
However, the win came at a high cost.
Carson Wentz injured his knee during the second half of the game, and according to reports, the second-year quarterback may have suffered a torn ACL, which would end his season.
You can’t begin to describe what a crushing blow this is for this franchise. This was a season that had been going so well, even with the Eagles sustaining a handful of major injuries to key guys like Jason Peters, Jordan Hicks, and Darren Sproles, this team was still in position to make a legitimate run at the Super Bowl.
Now with Wentz out of the picture, that all changes. Nick Foles is a very capable quarterback in his own right, but there’s clearly a major dropoff from Foles to Wentz. Wentz was the engine that really made this team special. And now he’s gone.
But on the positive side of things, the Eagles really did well to come away with a win over the Rams today. The Birds overcame an early turnover, various missed opportunities, and the Wentz injury to outduel the Rams and get a win that really puts them in a great position for the rest of the season.
With the win, coupled with the loss by the Vikings, the Eagles are back in sole possession of the top seed in the playoffs. With a loss, the Eagles would have been tied with the Rams, and would no longer have a hold on a first-round bye, much less the top seed.
Credit Nick Foles for what he was able to do today. Coming into a difficult situation, with the team down in the fourth quarter, Foles came in and guided the team to a pair-of scoring drives to come-from-behind, and get the win. Foles’ best moment may have been on the third-down throw to Nelson Agholor to pick up a late first-down to really seal the win.
Defensively, the Eagles were overmatched by Sean McVay’s offense for most of the game.
The Rams moved the ball at will most of the day, with Todd Gurley running for just under 100 yards, and Jared Goff throwing for a pair of touchdowns.
However, the Eagles’ defense came up big late in the game, with a strip-sack from Chris Long setting up the go-ahead field goal, and the defense managed to clamp down and force a three-and-out while holding a two-point lead late in the game.
- Before leaving the game, Wentz was brilliant, throwing for nearly 300 yards and four touchdowns. Wentz finishes the season with 33, setting a new franchise record for touchdowns in a single season. It’s a crime that his special season has been cut short.
- Jay Ajayi took over the backfield this week, rushing 15 times for 78 yards. He was the most effective of the team’s running backs, and probably should have gotten a few more carries than he did.
- Corey Clement and LeGarrette Blount were mixed in with six and seven carries respectively, though neither guy got into much of a groove today.
- Offensive line play was pretty bad today. The left side of the line was a dumpster fire, with Big V struggling for the second straight week, and Stefen Wisniewski leaving the game with an injury. Both Chance Warmack and Issac Seumalo were given shots at the left guard role, and both guys were pretty bad.
- To be fair, Warmack and Seumalo were tasked with going up against Aaron Donald, one of the better defensive tackles in the league, but their efforts were pretty feeble nonetheless.
- With Zach Ertz out, the Eagles’ tight end depth really shined once again. Trey Burton came up with five grabs for over 70 yards and two touchdowns. Brent Celek chipped in a touchdown of his own, his first touchdown reception in over two years.
- Torrey Smith played what might have been his best game as an Eagle, catching six passes for 100 yards.
- Alshon Jeffery came down with five catches for 52, including a touchdown on what was Carson Wentz’s final pass of the season on a fourth-and-goal call that gave the Eagles a 31-28 lead.
- Another big game for Nelson Agholor, who caught eight passes for 64 yards, including a tough grab to help seal the game in the fourth quarter. I haven’t been a fan of Agholor, and I’ve stated numerous times throughout the year that I didn’t believe in him. The time has come for a mea culpa. I was wrong about him, and he’s really turned his career around and carved out a nice role here.
- Nigel Bradham led the team in tackles, but botched what should have been an interception in the first half. The Rams would go on to score several plays later.
- The Eagles really struggled against Todd Gurley today, the Rams’ star running back ran all over one of the league’s better run defenses.
- Chris Long and Patrick Robinson picked up the team’s only sacks.
- Long’s sack really swung the momentum for the Eagles. The Rams were looking for a killshot on the play, hoping to hit Sammy Watkins down the field, but Long was able to get to Goff and make a game-changing play against his former team.
- Terrible blocking today on the punt units. Corey Clement allowed one punt to be blocked and returned for a touchdown that gave the Rams a 28-24 lead in the second half. The Rams also very nearly blocked a punt in the first half. Dave Fipp has got to sure these things up moving forward.
- Jake Elliot drilled all three of his field goals, and all four extra-points. He also came through on a 54-yard attempt that would have given the team a late lead, but the kick was nullified by a leverage penalty on the Rams.
The loss of Wentz is absolutely devastating.
But the Eagles can still win with Nick Foles.
Foles has won a lot of games in this league, and performed well in his only playoff start against the Saints back in 2013. Recall in that game that Foles drove the team down the field and gave the Eagles the lead late, but the defense was unable to hold it. Foles failed out in St. Louis when Chip Kelly threw him and a second-round pick away in exchange for eternally injured and underwhelming quarterback Sam Bradford, but Foles’ struggles with the Rams can easily be attributed to incompetent head coach Jeff Fisher.
A year ago, Jared Goff looked like a waste of a top pick under Fisher. Now, working with a true offensive coach in Sean McVay, Goff has looked like a rising star in this league. Foles, while not at the same level of either Wentz or Goff, will absolutely benefit from being away from Fisher’s archaic offense, and has a chance to show that he can be a starter in this league again.
Foles has three games to get himself completely in sync with the rest of the starters, and the first challenge in front of him are the 2-11 New York Giants.