Eagles’ Win Over Rams Clouded by Injury to Carson Wentz

The Philadelphia Eagles and the Los Angeles Rams lived up to the promise of a rare late-season matchup between teams averaging more than 30 points a game. The Eagles came away Sunday with a 43-35 victory, and the N.F.C. East division crown, in a game that was far closer than the final score indicated.

But the cost of the victory for the Eagles will not be known until they determine the severity of a knee injury sustained by Carson Wentz, their standout second-year quarterback, who left the game in the third quarter and did not return. Although his backup, Nick Foles, helped lead the Eagles to victory, reports surfaced that the Eagles think Wentz may have torn his anterior cruciate ligament, which had many immediately reconsidering Philadelphia’s place in the postseason hierarchy.

Coach Doug Pederson dismissed the concern, saying it was “just a report” and that nothing more would be known until Wentz undwerwent a magnetic resonance imaging exam on Monday.

“You’re speculating that he’s going to be out,” Pederson said during his postgame news conference. “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.”

Wentz was hit hard on a first-down run from the Rams’ 2-yard line. He dove into the end zone, getting hit hard from both sides as he crossed the goal line, and was initially credited with a touchdown before a holding penalty negated the run. Wentz stayed on the field for four more plays, with his last pass of the game producing a 2-yard touchdown to Alshon Jeffery that briefly gave Philadelphia a lead.

Wentz, 24, was not visibly limping, but after being evaluated in his team’s medical tent he was sent to the locker room for further testing. He was seen after the game wearing a brace on the knee.

For now, both Wentz and the Eagles are trying to focus on the positive of getting a win under difficult circumstances, while also taking at least some time to celebrate their first division title since 2013.

Pederson, who said the locker room was filled with jubilation regardless of the Wentz speculation, described the game as being a classic heavyweight fight between great teams.

But Foles acknowledged that the players were eagerly anticipating word on Wentz’s status.

“We’re N.F.C. champs but it’s emotional,” Foles said. “A guy you work with every day that you think the world of — I said earlier I think he’s the M.V.P. — it’s not easy. But I know this team will step up and rally no matter what.”

The win was the result of a big turnaround for Philadelphia, which appeared to be on the verge of failing to clinch a division title for a second consecutive week. Immediately after Wentz’s injury, they allowed the Rams to march 75 yards on just seven plays, and Todd Gurley’s 1-yard touchdown run allowed Los Angeles to retake the lead, 35-31.

But Foles, a veteran backup, led the Eagles 52 yards on 10 plays, and Jake Elliott’s 41-yard field goal closed the gap to 35-34.

The deciding play of the game, though, was a turnover three plays into the Rams’s next drive. Quarterback Jared Goff — the No. 1 pick in the 2016 draft, when Wentz was No. 2 — was sacked by Chris Long and fumbled; Rodney McLeod recovered the ball at the Rams’ 34 and ran it back 9 yards.

Starting again from the Rams’ 25, Foles generated only 10 yards of offense, but that was plenty for Elliott, who kicked a 33-yard field goal that gave Philadelphia a 37-35 lead.

The Eagles tacked on a touchdown in the game’s closing seconds after the Rams tried to do a series of laterals but fumbled. Brandon Graham recovered the ball and ran 25 yards for a score, but Pederson acknowledged the final score was not indicative of how close the game was, saying it was essentially a 2-point victory.

Philadelphia improved to 11-2 and will travel to face the Giants next Sunday. But Foles said that, even if he was forced into starting for the first time since Nov. 6 of last season, there was no cause for concern.

“I’m absolutely ready,” Foles said. “That’s why I’m here.”

Source: nytimes.com

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