As the fourth quarter of Monday night’s game began, Carson Wentz disappeared.
Not figuratively speaking—the second-year quarterback literally vanished from the camera’s view, lost in a suffocating crush of Redskins defensive linemen. The question seemed to be not whether the play would result in a sack, but which Redskins defender would earn credit for it.
And then, like Eli Manning in Super Bowl XLII—or maybe the marine iguana from Planet Earth II—Wentz miraculously escaped.
That disappearing act was the best of Wentz’s myriad magic tricks as he led the Eagles to a 34-24 victory over the division-rival Redskins. Wentz finished the game completing 17 of 25 passes (68 percent) for 268 yards, four touchdowns, and one interception, good for a 126.3 passer rating. He even led both teams in rushing with eight carries for 63 yards—1 yard fewer than all other Eagles rushers combined. Philadelphia is now 6-1 and owns the best record in the NFL as well as a 2.5-game lead in the NFC East after seven weeks. Wentz, who now leads the NFL in passing touchdowns, is the best player on what might be the best team in the league, which feels like the latest of many shocking developments this season as it approaches its halfway point.
The Eagles started slowly Monday. Down 10-3 with just over four minutes to play in the first half, Wentz took an avoidable (and painful-looking) sack on first-and-10. He followed that up with a 64-yard touchdown pass to Mack Hollins (who might have biked to the stadium???) on second-and-16 that tied the game at 10. A Washington three-and-out gave the Eagles the ball back two minutes later, and Wentz led the team on a six-play, 80-yard drive that ended with a 4-yard touchdown pass to tight end Zach Ertz that put the Eagles up 17-10 heading into the half, just four minutes after they were trailing by seven points.
The second half was all Wentz. He led a 10-play, 81-yard drive to start the third quarter that ended with this ridiculous 9-yard touchdown toss to Corey Clement right as Wentz got popped.
Then early in the fourth quarter, Wentz turned a first-and-goal from the 10-yard line into an easy touchdown when he audibled and hit a wide-open Nelson Agholor.
Monday wasn’t all good news for the Eagles. Nine-time Pro Bowl left tackle Jason Peters suffered a knee injury scary enough for dozens of Eagles to meet him at midfield and the entire crowd to chant his name as he was carted off early in the third quarter. Losing Peters for an extended period will certainly diminish Philadelphia’s offensive line, and it’s unfortunate to lose him just as right tackle Lane Johnson returns from a concussion. But Wentz proved Monday that he has enough mojo in the pocket to handle leaky pass protection.
The Eagles host the 0-7 49ers next week in what could be a thrashing that sends them to 7-1, and then face the suddenly vulnerable Broncos the following week. By the time Philadelphia heads to Dallas in Week 11, the team may already be within striking distance of clinching the division, and Wentz might be the favorite for NFL MVP. Thus far, Wentz is showing up when the Eagles need him to—even if that means briefly disappearing.