Carson Wentz’s performance in the Eagles’ 30-28 loss to the Ravens on Sunday certainly wasn’t one of the best games he’s ever played.
He had a costly first-quarter fumble that set up Baltimore’s second touchdown. He had just 54 passing yards in the first half, and completed just 21 of 40 passes overall.
So, one of the best, no. But one of the gutsiest? Yes. One of the most resilient? No doubt about it.
Wentz took one of the worst beatings of his career in Sunday’s close-but-no-cigar, 30-28 loss to the Ravens. Playing behind an injury-ravaged offensive line, he was sacked six times and absorbed one vicious hit after another.
But he shook off the beating and brought the Eagles back from an 18-point third-quarter deficit to nearly pull out an improbable victory.
“Carson played a heck of a football game,” Eagles coach Doug Pederson said after the game. "He played tough. He played smart. Resilient guy. Resilient group. He rallied his troops. He made some tough throws against a really, really good defense.
“I’m proud of him for hanging in there with some of the injuries we had. Carson is the type of guy who is going to put the team on his back. Especially when we’re faced with adversity. He wants the ball in his hands.”
Wentz and the rest of the Eagles offense stumbled through an abysmal first half that saw them go without a first down until late in the second quarter when rookie quarterback Jalen Hurts ran for 20 yards out of the wildcat formation.
Rookie John Hightower dropped a beautifully thrown deep ball from Wentz on the Eagles' first possession that would have given them the ball in Baltimore territory.
Running back Miles Sanders dropped what should have been a 21-yard touchdown pass late in the first half.
But Wentz played his heart out in the second half and brought the Eagles back.
“Carson doesn’t need to show me anything,” center Jason Kelce said when asked if Wentz’s determined second-half performance showed him anything. "I know who he is. I know who he’s been since he’s been here.
“He’s done an unbelievable job all year of fighting through hits. When it’s man coverage like it was today, you have to try and buy a little extra time and make plays happen.
“In the second half, it was a really good showing by him and some of our receivers making plays down the field for us.”
With the Eagles trailing 24-6, Wentz went back to Hightower late in the third quarter and connected with him on a 50-yard completion on third-and-6 to keep alive what would be a 12-play, 81-yard touchdown drive.
Avoiding one of the many zero blitzes the Ravens threw at him down the stretch, he bought time and finally found tight end Jason Croom, who was promoted from the practice squad a day earlier, for a 3-yard touchdown. Then he hit wide receiver Greg Ward on a two-point conversion.
Two possessions later, he had a 40-yard run on a second-and-16 play, ignoring a slide and doing a Larry Csonka impersonation for the final few yards. It typified his play.
Six plays later, with two Ravens about to put him on his back on fourth-and-9, he lofted a pass in the end zone for Travis Fulgham that the wide receiver grabbed for an 18-yard touchdown. Then he hit JJ Arcega-Whiteside on the two-point conversion to make it a one-score game with 3:48 left.
A deep pass to Fulgham on the Eagles' next possession drew a pass interference call. With Zach Ertz out with an ankle injury, Wentz then found the Eagles' other tight end, Richard Rodgers, for a 16-yard completion. He eventually scored on a 1-yard run before a potential game-tying two-point conversion failed.
“Obviously, that’s something I’m gonna look hard at,” Wentz said when asked about the Eagles' first-half struggles. "That’s something we’re all gonna look hard at. Because it’s something that’s frustrating.
"To be down the way we were at halftime, to put that performance out there in the first half, we’ve got to be better. Plain and simple, we’ve got to be better. We’ve got to execute better.
“The Ravens have a great defense. They make life really hard and challenging. So you have to give them some credit. But we can definitely execute better early in games. I’m confident we’ll get it figured out.”
Wentz had to rally the Eagles without Ertz, who left the game with about 10 minutes left in the fourth quarter, and without Sanders, who got hurt in the third quarter, and last but not least, without rookie right tackle Jack Driscoll, who was subbing for injured Lane Johnson. Driscoll missed both of the Eagles' final two scoring drives with an ankle injury.
“You just feel that backs-against-the-wall, time-to-make-some-plays mentality,” Wentz said. "Time to cut it loose and play. You’re giving guys chances down the field. You’re giving guys opportunities to make plays.
“The Ravens did a lot of things late in that game where they said, we’re going to bring the house. They kept blitzing and blitzing. That gave me the chance to kind of retreat and give my playmakers the chance to make plays. Guys stepped up and did a great job.”
Fulgham, another former practice-squadder, who caught 10 passes for 152 yards and a touchdown in last week’s loss to the Steelers, had another big game. He caught six passes for 75 yards and that fourth-quarter touchdown.
“He’s a baller; I said it last week,” Wentz said. "I see it in practice. It’s good to see guys get their chance and just make plays. It was zero-blitz a handful of times today and I looked to him. I just gave him a chance. I know I threw one out of the end zone and didn’t give him a chance. But I made sure I gave him the opportunity on the other one.
“He keeps showing up, keeps making plays. And he’s going to keep getting better, too. We’re going to keep building our chemistry and our connection. I have all the confidence in the world in him. He’s going to keep being a big part of this offense.”
Wentz could have turned away from Hightower after that early drop. It’s not the first mistake the rookie has made. He failed to get out of bounds late in the first half last week, which forced the Eagles to use a timeout and cost them a scoring opportunity. But he threw it to him again on that third-down play late in the third quarter, and this time, Hightower caught it.
“I have all the confidence in the world in him and all these guys,” Wentz said. "Mistakes are going to happen. Guys are gonna drop passes. I’m gonna fumble. I’m gonna turn it over. Guys are going to miss blocks. It’s how do we respond? How do we bounce back? How resilient are we?
“John would love to have that [first] one back. It wasn’t the start we were hoping for. We shouldn’t have been in third-and-22 in the first place. He dropped it. But it’s going to happen. We’re going to keep going back to him and he’s going to be a big part of what we do going forward.”
The Eagles have a short week, with the Thursday night game with the Giants. Wentz is going to wake up in a lot of pain Monday morning after the beating he took against the Ravens.
“Pain and soreness, bumps and bruises, that’s part of football,” Wentz said. "Every guy out there is feeling something along those lines. During the game, you don’t notice those things.
"In the morning, you’re going to be a little sore. That’s part of football. That’s part of life. I’ll be fine. Obviously, for me and for the rest of these guys, we have a quick turnaround. We’ve got a Thursday night game, which is even harder on your body.
“But I’m excited that we get to go back out there this quickly. We get a quick turnaround. We get a chance to put this one behind us quickly and get a ‘W’ in our division.”