LONDON — The Eagles went into their first regular-season international adventure thinking about lost sleep and mangled routines, and about maybe being at a bit of a disadvantage compared to the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Jags play here every year, and they had won three London games in a row going into Sunday's matchup.
The Eagles left feeling they'd been a part of something special, and not just because they held on for a 24-18 victory that got them to 4-4 entering their bye week.
"It's a special city. I wish I had more time," center Jason Kelce said afterward. "I didn't know how it was going to feel out there. I thought it was going to feel like an away game, typical — not at all, man. As soon as they started 'God Save the Queen.' … You're driving around in the buses and stuff. You really are in a different country. It's special.
"Very few times do you feel like you're experiencing something new — for me, at least. I've played in the league eight years, I've played in almost all the stadiums in the United States. To be a part of spreading this game, to be a part of playing it in front of fans who don't get to see it every week in person, it's special to be a part of. A very fun experience."
Tight end Zach Ertz noted that the Wembley Stadium surface was "a little slick, obviously a little wet, a little muddy," though it no doubt was a good bit worse for Tottenham Hotspur and Man City on Monday. But Ertz didn't think a little slipping and sliding were a big deal.
"I loved it," Ertz said. "This game was honestly a lot of fun. It was kind of a Super Bowl experience, in the sense that there's a lot more going on than just the football game.
"I loved hearing the other national anthem during warmups. I thought it was really cool. I loved how everyone was singing it. … It is kind of a spectacle. I did like playing here a lot, honestly."
There has been a lot of talk about the NFL moving a team to London. That's not on the immediate horizon; there are all kinds of hurdles, including what would happen if a London team made the playoffs.
But if the schedule ever expands to 17 or 18 games, with two bye weeks, it's possible to envision a full schedule of games for London, instead of just three. That might make the most sense, given that virtually every NFL jersey was represented Sunday in the Wembley stands, which held an NFL London-game record 85,870 fans, boosted by thousands of Eagles fans who made the journey.
"As an NFL player, you don't get to be on an international stage. … That's one of the downsides of the game," Kelce said. "Between London and Mexico City [where the Rams will play the Chiefs on Nov. 19] and other places, American football is starting to be appreciated by more and more people. It's fun to be a part of."
Defensive end Chris Long noted that his jet-lag problems quickly dissipated, long before game time.
"Great people, great fans, really hospitable," Long said.
Developing story lines
* Strong game for Ronald Darby, who was all over Donte Moncrief on the Jags' final, failed fourth-and-2 – after Fletcher Cox blocked Blake Bortles' pass on third-and-2. Earlier, Darby blasted D.J. Chark over the middle.
* Long had two sacks, and could have had a couple more in his best game of the season. He finally looked like last year's stretch-drive guy.
* Jalen Mills, who rode off on a cart after suffering a foot injury early in the third quarter, has missed only one game in three Eagles seasons – the meaningless 2017 season finale against the Cowboys. Mills had played 98 percent of this season's defensive snaps heading into the Jags game.
* That 133 yards rushing the Eagles gained Sunday on 28 carries lose a little luster if you subtract Carson Wentz's six carries for 28 yards and Nelson Agholor's 14-yard gain on an end-around. Running backs managed 21 carries for 91 yards, which is OK. Rookie Josh Adams, who gained 61 of those yards, on just nine carries, nonetheless was half a butt cheek scraping the turf away from making a devastating fourth-quarter turnover.
* Wendell Smallwood had the touchdown on the screen and a clutch run for a first down when the Eagles were running out the clock late, but in between, he had two brutal downs in blitz pickup. He got run over once, and just didn't see where the pressure was coming from the other time.
* Four snaps for Josh Sweat, even with Derek Barnett on injured reserve. That doesn't indicate great confidence in the fourth-round rookie defensive end.
That Carson Wentz was so good he didn't need the Philly Special to catch a pass? Early in Sunday's game, Wentz threw a ball that was batted right back to him. So he caught it and took off running, gaining 4 yards and a first down.
The Eagles have played 11 quarters since their last rushing touchdown, scored in the first quarter of the Giants game by Corey Clement.
Funny how these things work, but Zach Ertz, who caught that huge fourth-quarter touchdown pass for what proved to be the winning points, had his least productive day of the season Sunday.
Ertz caught a season-low four passes for a season-low 26 yards. The 5-yard pass from Wentz that gave the Eagles a two-score, 24-15 lead with 9 minutes and 55 seconds remaining was Ertz's only catch of the second half, which is remarkable given that we're talking about a guy who nonetheless hits the midpoint of the season with 61 catches for 644 yards. He has only three TDs, though, the same as rookie Dallas Goedert, who has managed only 18 catches for 188 yards.
By the way, Goedert's 32-yard touchdown reception right before halftime was the only time he was targeted all day, the Eagles working out of a three-tight-end set that snap. The third tight end, Josh Perkins, also was targeted just once – the interception Wentz threw in the end zone to Jalen Ramsey.
Ertz talked afterward about how important it was for Wentz to spread the ball around. Some games, way too much of the passing yardage goes to Ertz and Alshon Jeffery, with other receivers managing little production despite dozens and dozens of snaps.
Wentz targeted nine receivers Sunday, not including himself on the batted pass. Only 61 of the Eagles' 286 receiving yards belonged to Ertz and Jeffery.
"We're not going into the game saying 86 [Ertz] has to have this many targets, 17 [Jeffery] this many targets," Ertz said. "Carson isn't going to lock into a guy. He's going to the guy who in the scheme is getting open, who [the defense is] kind of dictating should get the ball."