LONDON – Carson Wentz wore a black turtleneck sweater underneath a gray, double-breasted jacket. Since Prince Harry was out of town, his doppelganger might as well have looked the part.
"When in Rome," Wentz said to passers-by who remarked on his postgame apparel.
Well, not quite. But Wentz did make the English capital and its most popular stadium feel like Philadelphia and Lincoln Financial Field with yet another performance that highlighted his Year 3 improvement.
The Eagles quarterback had to overcome another sluggish start, as he fumbled (again) on the opening possession and tossed an interception on the second. But Wentz rebounded with three touchdowns passes and six third-down conversions with his arm and feet, and delivered a fourth-quarter score – a week after he failed to do so – as the Eagles held off the Jaguars, 24-18, at Wembley Stadium.
The Eagles moved to 4-4 as they head into a bye week, and, while there is still plenty to clean up on offense, with Wentz, anything is possible.
"The guy is as mentally strong as they come," tight end Zach Ertz said. "He's never going to show that he's down. He's always looking forward to the next play. I think that really resonates with a lot of guys in this locker room."
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Wentz was clearly nonplussed with himself in the early going. The fumble – the fifth he's lost this season – came on first down after a 31-yard pass to receiver Jordan Matthews advanced the Eagles to the Jacksonville 37. And the interception – on a toss intended for tight end Joshua Perkins in the end zone – came two plays after Wentz and Nelson Agholor hooked up for a 39-yard pass to the Jaguars 23.
He ripped his helmet off as he walked to the sideline after Jalen Ramsey picked off his floater — "I have to make a better read," he said. But that was about as dejected as he got.
"I'm always unhappy [with turnovers]," Wentz said. "I'm ticked off, get frustrated. … Adversity is going to strike in a season, adversity is going to strike within a game. Sometimes you just make bad plays, you got to bounce back from it."
Overall, Wentz completed 21 of 30 passes (70 percent) for 286 yards. His completion rate is still over 70 percent for the season. And while he did toss the interception, his 13-2 touchdown-interception ratio (0.9) is still among the best in the NFL.
A week after 75 percent of his targets went to just three players (Ertz, Alshon Jeffery and Nelson Agholor), Wentz spread the ball around. Ten receivers were targeted and nine caught passes – even the quarterback himself. Wentz snagged a third down pass that deflected back into his arms, and he ran four yards for the first down.
"Nothing surprises me with this guy," Ertz said. "Everyone always says, 'Were you surprised he does this, that?' He knew exactly what happened the moment he threw the ball."
Wentz fumbled four plays later. But he found other ways to convert third downs. It took awhile, though. The Eagles settled for a field goal on their next series, and went three-and-out on the following drive, but after safety Avonte Maddox forced a fumble late in the second quarter, the offense capitalized.
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It took a Wentz 13-yard scramble on third-and-11 to extend the drive, however. And on the next play, he rolled to his right and found the streaking Dallas Goedert downfield. The rookie tight end took care of the rest, and the Eagles had a 32-yard touchdown and a 10-6 lead before the break.
"Great play-call by coach," Wentz said of Doug Pederson. "Time to set it up, rip."
In the Eagles' opening drive of the third quarter, Wentz completed third-down passes to Jeffery (a 12-yard slant) and to Matthews (13 yards). The latter toss was across his body and high, where only his receiver could grab it.
Matthews said Wentz threw little behind him on an early similar route.
"He came to me and was, like, 'Hey, don't worry about that. I'll get that where it needs to be the next time,' " Matthews said. "… It just shows this guy's the real deal. If he says, 'Hey, I'm going to do this,' he means that he's going to put the ball where it needs to be."
A play later, Pederson called a misdirection screen to Wendell Smallwood that caught the Jaguars in man coverage. The running back ran 36 yards untouched into the end zone for a 17-6 lead.
Jacksonville trimmed the margin, 17-15, but the Eagles responded. They've lack quick-strike drives this season, but they needed only six plays to travel 75 yards early in the fourth. Wentz ended the scourge with a 5-yard touchdown pass to Ertz with about 10 minutes left.
The offense had the opportunity to put the game away, after another Jaguars field goal, with a little over five minutes left. The Eagles couldn't and went three-and-out. But after the defense held on fourth down, Wentz hit Matthews for 13 yards, Smallwood ran for 10, and the clock ran out.
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"At the end of the day, we finished," Wentz said. "Still didn't finish the way we wanted offensively. … Went three-and-out, which was unfortunate. Defense stepped up."
The offense hasn't been able to carry the team as it did at times last season. The line has been battered and inconsistent. The run game has been uninspiring. And Wentz needs to stop fumbling – "I got to look in the mirror and say, 'How can I protect the ball a little bit better?' " he said.
But the 25-year-old's first trip across the pond could lead to better results back in the States.
"It was an awesome experience, awesome environment," Wentz said. "Definitely a fun one over here."