It will be a happy flight home for the Eagles with some casualties that will linger from the pitch at Wembley, but most of all we finally saw a meaningful defensive stand by the Birds in the most crucial stretch of a 4th quarter in a close game.
“Scrappy” is the word that sticks in my brain to describe this win.
Carson Wentz threw three touchdown passes to different players as the Philadelphia Eagles defeated the Jacksonville Jaguars 24-18 at Wembley Stadium on Sunday.
Tight end Dallas Goedert caught one of the touchdown passes in the first half, and running back Wendell Smallwood and tight end Zach Ertz scored theirs in the second half for the Eagles (4-4), making their first appearance in England.
Blake Bortles, restored as the starter despite being pulled in a loss to the Houston Texans a week earlier, completed 24 of 41 passes for 286 yards for the slumping Jaguars (3-5), who lost their fourth consecutive game. Despite Jacksonville’s familiarity with playing in England — it was the Jags’ sixth consecutive year of playing overseas, and they had won their last three — the record crowd of 85,870 formed a decidedly pro-Eagles crowd.
That didn’t matter early as the Jaguars took the first lead, forcing a fumble with a sack of Wentz on the opening possession. Josh Lambo made a 51-yard field goal.
Wentz was intercepted in the end zone by Jacksonville’s Jalen Ramsey on the ensuing possession, ending an eight-play, 63-yard drive on which the Eagles appeared poised to score. They were unable to answer until midway through the second quarter, when Jake Elliott made a 31-yard field goal. But Lambo inched the Jaguars ahead again by making a career-long 57-yard attempt with 2:48 remaining until halftime.
After forcing the Eagles to go three-and-out on the following possession, the Jaguars appeared poised to run out the clock. But a hit by rookie Avonte Maddox on wide receiver Keelan Cole after a 16-yard reception into Philadelphia territory gave the Eagles the ball back. Wentz and Goedert made the Jaguars pay, needing only a minute to score when Goedert’s 32-yard catch down the right-middle of the field gave the Birds a 10-6 halftime lead.
On the Eagles’ first drive of the second half, Wentz threw a screen pass to Smallwood, who found space down the left sideline and got into the end zone thanks to a key downfield block by Shelton Gibson. The score capped off a 95-yard drive that have the Eagles a 17-6 lead with 8:38 left in the third. Smallwood finished with 42 yards receiving and 24 yards rushing.
The Jaguars followed with a quick scoring drive ending with an 11-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Dede Westbrook. The two-point conversion was no good and made the score 17-12 with 4:33 to play in the third. After an Eagles three-and-out, the Jaguars marched again and hit a field goal to make it 17-15 with 13:14 left in the game.
The Eagles offense did what it couldn’t last week and responded. A 36-yard completion to Matthews, scrambles by Wentz, and runs by running back Josh Adams (who finished with a team-high 61 yards rushing) set up a five-yard touchdown pass to Ertz, which gave the Eagles a two-score lead with less than 10 minutes to play.
The Jaguars marched again but had to settle for a field goal after a third-and-goal pass was bobbled and eventually dropped in the end zone by wide receiver D.J. Chark. It made the score 24-18 with seven minutes to play.
The Jaguars got the ball back after another Eagles three-and-out. But the defense made a play when it counted and the Eagles closed out a crucial win after failing to do so in important games this season.
With 5:08 to play, quarterback Blake Bortles and the Jaguars took over at their own 27 following an Eagles three-and-out. On fourth-and-1 from the 36, Bortles scrambled for four yards to move the chains.
The Jaguars then faced a fourth-and-2 at their own 48 following two incompletions. Bortles was pressured and fired an incomplete pass into space, giving the Eagles the ball back with 3:36 to play. The Eagles pressured Bortles throughout the game and finished with four sacks on the day.
A 13-yard completion to Matthews and runs by Smallwood forced two Jaguars timeouts and helped the Eagles drain the clock.
Despite throwing an interception and losing a fumble, quarterback Carson Wentz turned in another stellar outing, completing 21 of his 30 passes for 286 yards and three touchdowns.
Wide receiver Jordan Matthews led all receivers with 93 yards on four receptions. Tight ends Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert each had touchdown receptions, as did running back Wendell Smallwood. Josh Adams had 61 yards rushing in 9 carries.
The injury report is softened a little by the fact that the Eagles go on their Bye week, but it’s still grim. RT Lane Johnson suffered a sprained MCL in his left knee on the first series of the game and did not return. CB Jalen Mills hurt a foot in the 3rd quarter and left the game. (For the Jags, CB Quentin Meeks left the game with a right knee injury.)
The Eagles are on now on Bye and will next play on November 11 vs. Dallas.
I will bring you some stats and more reaction as soon as I can get back into my email server, which is currently “under maintenance” but which holds the key to my getting back in here to post some stats.
* * * * * * * * * *
|Passing 1st downs||15||10|
|Rushing 1st downs||7||5|
|1st downs from penalties||0||1|
|3rd down efficiency||7-12||6-14|
|4th down efficiency||0-0||1-2|
|Yards per Play||6.4||5.4|
|Yards per pass||7.7||5.9|
|Yards per rush||4.8||4.1|
|Red Zone (Made-Att)||1-2||1-3|
|Defensive / Special Teams TDs||0||0|
Tommy Lawlor calls it a “huge win”…mostly because the Birds overcame some major disruption of rhythm on the offensive line:
“Jason Peters got hurt and missed part of the first half. Lane Johnson got hurt and missed most of the game. Jason Kelce got hurt and missed one play early on. That meant the Eagles used a variety of OL combinations.
Peters – Seumalo – Kelce – Brooks – Johnson
Peters – Seumalo – Wisniewski – Brooks – Johnson
Vaitai – Seumalo – Kelce – Brooks – Johnson
Vaitai – Wisniewski – Kelce – Brooks – Seumalo
Peters – Seumalo – Kelce – Brooks – Vaitai
I don’t think I left any combinations out, but I haven’t studied the tape yet to make sure. Despite all of that chaos, the Eagles gained 395 yards and scored 24 points. There were blocking breakdowns, but the group got the job done most of the time. When they didn’t, Wentz bailed them out with his feet.”
That’s the theme of the day, I reckon. The Eagles adjusted to overcome adversity on both sides of the ball. Good on the coaches and the personnel.