After Carson Wentz injury, Philadelphia Eagles engineer comeback win over Rams to clinch NFC East
Philadelphia Eagles at Los Angeles Rams, 2017 NFL Week 14
Gallery: Philadelphia Eagles at Los Angeles Rams, 2017 NFL Week 14
LOS ANGELES — For the Philadelphia Eagles, upcoming medical evaluations of quarterback Carson Wentz will hold much greater significance than anything surrounding their 43-35 win over the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday.
The Eagles’ gutsy comeback victory clinched the NFC East title and the team’s first playoff berth since 2013, while also putting the Birds (11-2) back in the driver’s seat for the top seed and home-field advantage for the playoffs.
Still, Wentz’s injury was the most important development of the day for Philadelphia — and perhaps the turning point of the season.
Wentz, an MVP candidate who has altered the outlook of Philadelphia’s franchise with a sparkling second NFL season, left Sunday’s game with a knee injury in the third quarter. He appeared to injure himself diving into the end zone on a scramble that was negated by a holding call on right tackle Lane Johnson.
Four snaps later, Wentz threw his franchise-record 33rd touchdown pass of the season, hobbled to the sideline and was soon in the locker room with medical staff looking at his knee. The Eagles led 31-28 when Wentz left the game, but his disappearance into a tunnel at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum placed the future of a promising season in flux.
ESPN reporter Adam Schefter tweeted that the Eagles fear Wentz tore his left ACL, an injury which would end his season.
As for Sunday’s game between NFC contenders, the Eagles showed early signs of wilting after Wentz’s departure. They allowed the Rams to storm down the field and take a 35-31 lead after early in the fourth quarter, as a once-dominant defense failed to patch its leaks.
But then the Birds responded. And a veteran pass rusher with a Super Bowl ring on his resume made a play that jolted a team in need of resuscitation to turn the tide.
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After the Rams (9-4) took the lead in the fourth quarter, backup quarterback Nick Foles, a sixth-year pro who made a Pro Bowl as Philadelphia’s starter in 2013, helped the team piece together a decent drive that wound up with a field goal. Then Chris Long made his mark.
The 32-year-old, who won a title with the New England Patriots last year, chased down Rams quarterback Jared Goff in the backfield and slapped the ball away, forcing a fumble safety Rodney McLeod pounced on. The Eagles regained possession across midfield.
Philly failed to score a touchdown after that, but kicker Jake Elliott booted his second field goal of the final frame to give the Eagles a 37-35 lead with less than four minutes to play. From there, the defense stepped up with a stop. And on the next drive, Foles completed a third-down pass to wide receiver Nelson Agholor that allowed the Eagles to bleed the clock down to seven seconds.
The Eagles capped the game with a touchdown return after defensive end Brandon Graham picked off a Rams lateral. In the end, the win gives the Eagles a clear path to the No. 1 seed in the NFC.
But they’d trade it all for a healthy quarterback.