NFC East champion Eagles confident despite Wentz’s injury
LOS ANGELES (AP) The Philadelphia Eagles didn’t lose their swagger even after seeing star quarterback Carson Wentz go down with what could be a season-ending injury.
Can the Eagles still succeed in the playoffs if Wentz is out?
”Do we have a quarterback on the roster? OK, then, yes,” safety Malcolm Jenkins said after the Eagles clinched the NFC East title with a thrilling 43-35 victory against the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday.
Two sources familiar with the injury tell The Associated Press that doctors believe Wentz has torn his left anterior cruciate ligament and will miss the rest of the season and playoffs.
Coach Doug Pederson said only that the Eagles (11-2) won’t know the extent of Wentz’s injury until has an MRI exam Monday.
Wentz, who threw for 291 yards and four touchdowns before getting hurt, had a brace on his left knee as he was driven up the tunnel at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on a golf cart. He got off and hobbled about 30 feet to one of the team buses.
The Eagles do have a quarterback on the roster, of course. Nick Foles replaced Wentz and directed drives that Jake Elliott capped with field goals.
Jenkins said the Eagles can run the ball more to complement Foles, and that the defense will have to step up.
”It (stinks) more so for Carson as a person and a friend and a teammate and what he puts into the game and his preparation,” Jenkins said. ”But as a team we have all our goals in front of us.”
Some things to know about the Eagles and Rams:
Despite Wentz’s injury, the Eagles celebrated the division title.
Foles said Wentz was waiting for the team when it came into the locker room after the game.
”The guys really rallied,” Foles said. ”It means a lot to this team, it means a lot to me. Excited we’re NFC East champs but it’s emotional, a guy you work with every day who you think the world of, you know I think he’s the MVP; it’s not easy but I know this team will step up and rally no matter what.”
Asked about Wentz’s mood, Pederson said: ”He’s excited. NFC East champs, he’s fired up.”
The QB was hit hard as he dived into the end zone on a play that was called back because of holding. He stayed in the game and threw a 3-yard touchdown pass to Alshon Jeffery four plays later to give the Eagles a 31-28 lead.
Foles replaced Wentz on the next drive.
”I just saw him favoring his leg a little bit and it’s just one of those things where he toughed it out, threw a touchdown,” Foles said. ”He’s one of the toughest players I’ve played with. He came to the side and got checked and I was told be ready to go in.”
Los Angeles dropped to 9-4, but still lead the NFC West. Quarterback Jared Goff said there’s plenty to learn from this loss.
”I think if we play them 10 times, it would be pretty close every game,” Goff said. ”It comes down to at the end of the game who makes a play and who doesn’t, and who takes care of the ball and who doesn’t have dumb penalties and stuff like that. That ends up being the difference in the game. We did that and they didn’t, and so hats off to them.”
WENTZ AND GOFF
This was the eighth time in the Super Bowl era that quarterbacks taken No. 1 and No. 2 overall in the same draft squared off, with the No. 1 dropping to 5-3. Goff was the first pick overall in 2016, followed by Wentz.
Goff threw for 199 yards and two touchdowns.
Wentz bounced back from throwing an interception on the game’s third play to throw touchdown passes on the Eagles’ next three possessions for a 21-7 lead. He threw a 5-yarder to tight end Brent Celek and a beautifully threaded 20-yarder to Trey Burton in the first quarter, and then another nicely thrown scoring pass to Burton in the second quarter, this one for 11 yards. Wentz’s 33 TD passes are a franchise single-season record.
The game ended on a crazy play, when Philadelphia’s Brandon Graham grabbed a lateral by Tavon Austin out of the air and scored what was ruled a 16-yard fumble return.
The Rams scored twice in a span of less than two minutes early in the third quarter to take a 28-24 lead. The big momentum swing came when Blake Countess returned a blocked punt 16 yards for a touchdown. The punt was blocked by Michael Thomas, and the ball bounced right to Countess in stride.
AP Pro Football Writer Rob Maaddi contributed to this report from Philadelphia.
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