By Nick Shook
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Philadelphia emerged from a back-and-forth affair victorious, but might have lost its most important player.
The Eagles believe Carson Wentz‘s season could be over after the quarterback suffered an ACL injury in his knee during Philadelphia’s 43-35 win Sunday over the Los Angeles Rams, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported. Wentz exited the contest late in third quarter and was ruled out shortly after heading to the locker room.
Nick Foles replaced Wentz under center for Philly.
Rapoport reports initial tests don’t definitively show a complete tear of Wentz’s ACL, which has the team hopeful the quarterback’s season isn’t over. Eagles coach Doug Pederson said after the game Wentz would undergo an MRI exam Monday to evaluate the injury.
“I don’t know anything yet until we evaluate him fully tomorrow,” Pederson said.
Pederson added: “You’re speculating that he’s going to be out. So until I know more tomorrow on him, it’s hard to say. But listen, there’s a lot of leaders on that football team right now. And you saw it tonight.”
Those leaders helped Philadelphia first trim its deficit in the fourth and then wrest the lead from the Rams when Chris Long‘s strip sack gave the Eagles the ball in field goal range, and Jake Elliott drilled his second of two fourth-quarter field goals. Those leaders also helped Philadelphia ice the game with a late third-down conversion on a completion from Foles to Nelson Agholor. Pederson is right: Wentz isn’t Philadelphia’s lone talent.
But he is an important talent. After Wentz capped a 15-play, 75-yard drive with a fourth-down touchdown pass to Alshon Jeffery, Philadelphia’s offense looked nothing like the unit that had put up 31 points on a Wade Phillips-led defense. The Eagles struggled to gain yards and looked for a time like their offense would be their undoing, simply because the unit couldn’t maintain possession.
That ended up not being true, thanks to hard running from Jay Ajayi and a few timely completions from Foles, including the aforementioned one to Agholor.
“NFC East Champs! So proud of the resiliency of this team. Such a special group of men,” Wentz wrote Sunday night on Twitter.
If Wentz can’t return in 2017, he deserves applause for his excellent play and his ability to gut out four more plays after suffering the ACL injury. Earlier in that touchdown drive, Wentz scrambled and dove into the end zone for what would have been a touchdown, if not for a holding penalty on tackle Lane Johnson. During the end zone dive, Wentz was hit by two Rams defenders, including one in the legs.
Wentz looked much less mobile during the plays that followed, including on the touchdown pass to Jeffery, in which the quarterback was statuesque before throwing to the receiver through traffic for the score. But he managed to stay on the field to even complete that throw. That deserves some praise.
Foles, owner of a 60.5 career completion percentage and a 57-25 TD-to-INT ratio, has plenty of experience as both a starter and a backup, getting his first shot with the Eagles from 2012-2014. Coincidentally, Foles was traded to the Rams when they were in St. Louis in 2015, but lasted just 11 games. He served as Alex Smith‘s capable backup last season in Kansas City before rejoining the Eagles during the most recent offseason.
He went 6 for 10 for 42 yards in his relief appearance on Sunday. He and the rest of the Eagles know he’ll need to be closer to his career numbers (and his scintillating 2013 season) if the team has serious Super Bowl aspirations.