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Eagles increase credibility with 34-7 romp over Cardinals

I wouldn’t call it a “laffer”, because the Cards stayed within two scores of the Eagles for much of the way. But it sure was FUN to observe all three phases of the game being played with extreme efficiency and exuberance by the Eagles. Special Teams played brilliantly, Defense played with swarming intelligence, and Offense despite a pesky pass rush scheme by Arizona showed overwhelming confidence.

It’s still too early to call this team a “contender”, but you can sure as heck call them a bunch of “believers”… There’s something happening here.

As Tim McManus led off his ESPN game recap, “Quarterback Carson Wentz had the best day of his young career, and the Philadelphia Eagles sent a message to the league with a dominant 34-7 victory over the Arizona Cardinals.”

Wentz (21-of-30, 304 yards, 4 TDs, INT) established a new personal best with four touchdown passes — three of which came on consecutive pass attempts in the first quarter. He is the first quarterback with a touchdown pass on three consecutive attempts since Ben Roethlisberger did it Week 4 of 2016, per the Elias Sports Bureau, and is the first quarterback in Eagles history to throw three touchdown passes in the first quarter of a game.

“The breakout was somewhat expected internally. Earlier in the week, a team insider told ESPN that Wentz’s outing against the Los Angeles Chargers was being viewed as his best as a pro even though he finished with an average completion rate and just one touchdown. They saw a signal-caller who was maturing in his decision-making and command. The statistical fruits of that growth came at the Cardinals’ expense.”–Tim Mcmanus

It was a statement win for the now 4-1 Eagles against a team that typically gives them fits.

In the process, they raised expectations about what this season might hold. The hope was that the second year for both Wentz and coach Doug Pederson would be one of progress, but the general consensus was that this team was still a year away from being serious contenders. They’ve opened some eyes over the first five games. And with the division looking less dangerous than forecasted — the Eagles were the only NFC East squad with a winning record entering Week 5 — the path might not be quite as treacherous as first thought.

The Eagles won their second straight game without standout defensive tackle Fletcher Cox (calf). The front four still managed to harass Carson Palmer, while a thin cornerback group kept the clamps on Arizona’s speedy receivers for most of the day. The offensive line, meanwhile, carried on in the second half without right tackle Lane Johnson, who suffered a head injury that puts his status in doubt for Thursday’s matchup at the Carolina Panthers.

“While all areas of the team have contributed, including special teams (a 76-yard Kenjon Barner punt return and a field goal block factored into the win Sunday), quarterback play is an X factor in any season, and Wentz is playing at a high level. Now 21 games into his career, the second-year player out of North Dakota State is showing positive signs that he can develop into an elite quarterback. Never have those signs been more evident than Sunday against Arizona.”–Tim McManus

Wentz tossed three scoring passes in the first quarter, including 59 yards to Torrey Smith, 11 yards to Zach Ertz and 15 yards to Trey Burton. He connected with Nelson Agholor for a 72-yard TD in the third quarter that left six-time Pro Bowl cornerback Patrick Peterson shouting on the sideline.

Carson Palmer and Arizona’s one-dimensional offense were held to 279 yards. The Cardinals (2-3) have alternated losses and wins since Week 1.

Wentz torched a secondary that features Peterson and Tyrann Mathieu, finishing 21 of 30 for 304 yards. Peterson held Alshon Jeffery to three catches for 31 yards, but Wentz spread the ball around.

The Eagles entered with the NFL’s second-best third-down offense and converted their first four chances, including two of Wentz’s TDs.

On the opening drive, Wentz tossed a 12 yard pass to Ertz on third-and-11 and a 16-yard pass to Jeffery on another third-and-11. Then he found Burton on a fade for a 7-0 lead.

Wentz’s TD pass to Ertz came on third-and-6 to make it 14-0. He hit Smith in stride on third-and-5 for a 21-0 lead.

The Cardinals finally got going when Palmer threw a 13-yard TD pass to John Brown to cut it to 21-7.

Agholor’s TD catch was on third-and-19. He blew past safety Budda Baker, caught Wentz’s perfect pass over the shoulder and used a spin move and stiff arm to reach the end zone.

Wentz made a mistake late in the second quarter after guiding the Eagles to the Cardinals 25. He overthrew Ertz and Antoine Bethea made a toe-tapping interception in the end zone.

It didn’t have vile consequence though, as Eagles cornerback Patrick Robinson deflected Phil Dawson‘s 51-yard field goal at the end of the first half.

INJURIES:

Cardinals: LS Aaron Brewer (arm) left in the first quarter. T Jared Veldheer(knee) and DT Olsen Pierre (ankle) were injured in the third.

Eagles: RT Lane Johnson left at halftime with a head injury. … Two-time Pro Bowl DT Fletcher Cox (calf) missed his second straight game and RB Wendell Smallwood (knee) also didn’t play.

Final:

1 2 3 4 T
ARI 0 7 0 0 7
PHI 21 0 10 3 34

Scoring Summary:

FIRST QUARTER ARI PHI
TD
8:19
Trey Burton 15 Yd pass from Carson Wentz (Jake Elliott Kick)
10 plays, 54 yards, 5:26
0 7
TD
3:52
Zach Ertz 11 Yd pass from Carson Wentz (Jake Elliott Kick)
3 plays, 15 yards, 1:30
0 14
TD
0:43
Torrey Smith 59 Yd pass from Carson Wentz (Jake Elliott Kick)
3 plays, 64 yards, 1:33
0 21
SECOND QUARTER ARI PHI
TD
11:42
John Brown 13 Yd pass from Carson Palmer (Phil Dawson Kick)
10 plays, 75 yards, 4:01
7 21
THIRD QUARTER ARI PHI
FG
9:18
Jake Elliott 36 Yd Field Goal
11 plays, 57 yards, 5:42
7 24
TD
6:16
Nelson Agholor 72 Yd pass from Carson Wentz (Jake Elliott Kick)
3 plays, 63 yards, 1:01
7 31
FOURTH QUARTER ARI PHI
FG
2:00
Jake Elliott 28 Yd Field Goal
13 plays, 58 yards, 9:14
7 34
Matchup
1st Downs 16 19
Passing 1st downs 13 11
Rushing 1st downs 1 5
1st downs from penalties 2 3
3rd down efficiency 4-14 9-14
4th down efficiency 2-3 0-0
Total Plays 60 64
Total Yards 307 419
Total Drives 11 11
Yards per Play 5.1 6.5
Passing 276 297
Comp-Att 28-44 21-30
Yards per pass 6.0 9.6
Interceptions thrown 0 1
Sacks-Yards Lost 2-15 1-7
Rushing 31 122
Rushing Attempts 14 33
Yards per rush 2.2 3.7
Red Zone (Made-Att) 1-1 2-4
Penalties 7-61 5-60
Turnovers 1 1
Fumbles lost 1 0
Interceptions thrown 0 1
Possession 24:13 35:47
Philadelphia Passing
C/ATT YDS AVG TD INT SACKS RTG
Carson Wentz 21/30 304 10.1 4 1 1-7 128.3
TEAM 21/30 297 10.1 4 1 1-7 128.3
Philadelphia Rushing
CAR YDS AVG TD LONG
LeGarrette Blount 14 74 5.3 0 37
Kenjon Barner 5 23 4.6 0 16
Corey Clement 7 17 2.4 0 6
Carson Wentz 6 11 1.8 0 7
Torrey Smith 1 -3 -3.0 0 -3
TEAM 33 122 3.7 0 37
Philadelphia Receiving
REC YDS AVG TD LONG TGTS
Nelson Agholor 4 93 23.3 1 72 5
Torrey Smith 3 70 23.3 1 59 4
Zach Ertz 6 61 10.2 1 14 12
Alshon Jeffery 3 31 10.3 0 16 4
Corey Clement 1 22 22.0 0 22 1
Trey Burton 2 16 8.0 1 15 2
Marcus Johnson 1 6 6.0 0 6 1
Brent Celek 1 5 5.0 0 5 1
TEAM 21 304 14.5 4 72 30
Philadelphia Defense
TACKLES MISC
TOT SOLO SACKS TFL PD QB HTS TD
Nigel Bradham 8 5 0 0 0 0 0
Patrick Robinson 5 4 0 0 3 0 0
Brandon Graham 4 4 1 3 0 1 0
Vinny Curry 4 4 1 1 0 1 0
Malcolm Jenkins 4 4 0 0 1 0 0
Jalen Mills 4 4 0 0 3 0 0
Jordan Hicks 4 3 0 0 0 0 0
Rodney McLeod 3 3 0 0 1 0 0
Rasul Douglas 3 3 0 0 1 0 0
Tim Jernigan 2 1 0 1 0 1 0
Chris Maragos 2 0 0 0 0 0 0
Corey Graham 1 1 0 0 0 0 0
Chris Long 1 1 0 0 0 1 0
Mychal Kendricks 1 1 0 0 0 0 0
Trey Burton 1 1 0 0 0 0 0
Joe Walker 1 1 0 0 0 0 0
Corey Clement 1 1 0 0 0 0 0
Kamu Grugier-Hill 1 1 0 0 0 0 0
Dexter McDougle 1 0 0 0 0 0 0
Elijah Qualls 1 0 0 0 0 1 0
Beau Allen 0 0 0 0 0 1 0
Derek Barnett 0 0 0 0 0 1 0
TEAM 52 42 2 5 9 7 0
Philadelphia Punt Returns
NO YDS AVG LONG TD
Kenjon Barner 3 110 36.7 76 0
TEAM 3 110 36.7 76 0
Philadelphia Kicking
FG PCT LONG XP PTS
Jake Elliott 2/2 100.0 36 4/4 10
TEAM 2/2 100.0 36 4/4 10
Arizona Passing
C/ATT YDS AVG TD INT SACKS RTG
Carson Palmer 28/44 291 6.6 1 0 2-15 90.2
TEAM 28/44 276 6.6 1 0 2-15 90.2
Arizona Rushing
CAR YDS AVG TD LONG
Chris Johnson 9 21 2.3 0 9
J.J. Nelson 1 14 14.0 0 14
Kerwynn Williams 3 -2 -0.7 0 1
Andre Ellington 1 -2 -2.0 0 -2
TEAM 14 31 2.2 0 14
Arizona Receiving
REC YDS AVG TD LONG TGTS
J.J. Nelson 4 80 20.0 0 28 6
Andre Ellington 9 65 7.2 0 13 10
Larry Fitzgerald 6 51 8.5 0 15 10
Jaron Brown 3 39 13.0 0 20 6
John Brown 2 26 13.0 1 13 7
Jermaine Gresham 2 16 8.0 0 14 2
Chris Johnson 1 8 8.0 0 8 1
Elijhaa Penny 1 6 6.0 0 6 1
Ricky Seals-Jones 0 0 0.0 0 0 1
TEAM 28 291 10.4 1 28 44

As you can see by looking over the Cardinals’ offensive stats, you really have to applaud the overall game plan of defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz and the defensive execution of the Eagles players in this one. They completely neutralized the potentially explosive running and slot receiving talent of the Cards by dominating the point of attack. Then they somehow managed to keep Larry Fitzgerald out of the end zone. That my friends was worth the price of admission.

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