LOS ANGELES — With a heavy black brace around his left knee, Carson Wentz hobbled through the postgame buffet line in the bowels of the LA Memorial Coliseum, just outside of the cramped visitor locker room.
Wearing black shorts, a black hat, a black long-sleeve AO1 shirt and headphones hanging around his neck, Wentz used a big metal spoon to scoop some catered Mexican food into a bowl.
From there, he settled himself on the back of a motorized cart that took him outside the stadium into the cooling L.A. night. He then hobbled his way again, this time from the cart, onto the team bus and out of sight.
Of course, he walked. That's just what Carson Wentz does.
After the Eagles' NFC East-clinching 43-35 win over the Rams (see breakdown), Wentz will fly back to Philadelphia with the rest of the team. Call it a 4 1/2 hour prayer session. Because Monday he'll get an MRI on his left knee. The Eagles fear he's torn it, a team source confirmed (see story).
Wentz left Sunday's game in the third quarter. He injured his left knee on a play where he scrambled and dove head-first into the end zone for a touchdown that was called back because of a holding call.
Then he stayed in the game.
Wentz very well might have been standing on a torn ACL, but he stayed in the game for four more plays.
"It shows how tough he is, man," right tackle Lane Johnson said. "Shows how much this stuff means to him. Football means the world to him. He's a fighter. Moving forward, whatever the situation is, he's going to fight."
Wentz's last play of the game — and possibly his MVP-like season — was a touchdown pass to Alshon Jeffery.
It was his 33rd touchdown pass of the season, breaking the Eagles' single-season record. The record had stood since 1961.
"Carson's a hell of a player," Jeffery said. "A hell of a competitor. He's our MVP."
Several of Wentz's offensive teammates thought there was a chance he was hurt. After all, he did take a tough shot on that diving play. But Wentz didn't speak a word about it in the huddle. Some of his teammates didn't even realize he might have a significant injury until he made the long walk of about 110 yards from the sideline to the tunnel.
The play where the injury came is a pretty typical Wentz play. He gave up his body to try to score a touchdown. That's just the way he plays.
"That's one of the things that makes him an incredible player in this league," center Jason Kelce said.
After Wentz went inside, the team almost immediately announced he was out for the game, never a good sign.
"He's the ultimate competitor," safety Rodney McLeod said. "He stayed in strong, threw that pass to Alshon. It was one of the biggest plays of the day. We're going to celebrate. We got the win for him and we're going to move on."
As you might expect, the mood after this game was a little strange. The Eagles won the division, so they celebrated. They beat another NFC contender, so they celebrated. And they own sole possession of the top spot in the conference, so they celebrated.
But you'll forgive them if the celebration wasn't over the top. Because, sure, they won the game, but they might have lost the heart and soul of their team (see Roob's observations).
"Yeah, it sucks, but there's nothing you can really do about it," Johnson said. "We came into this game hoping to win this game and clinch the division. That part's done. I have the utmost confidence moving forward."
Head coach Doug Pederson said he had spoken to Wentz after the game. Pederson said Wentz was "fired up" and "excited" about clinching.
Not too long before Wentz hobbled his way to the team busses, he waited at the entrance of the visiting locker room as his comrades bounced inside after clinching the division.
Wentz was there congratulate Nick Foles and the rest of his teammates on the NFC East title.
A little while later, Wentz tweeted how proud he was of his team.
NFC East Champs! So proud of the resiliency of this team. Such a special group of men.— Carson Wentz (@cj_wentz) December 11, 2017
And I greatly appreciate all the prayers! I know my God is a powerful one with a perfect plan. Time to just lean in to him and trust whatever the circumstances! #Proverbs3:5-6
"You see his leadership, man, no matter what," linebacker Nigel Bradham said. "He's still going to be the leader of our team. He might not be out there, but he's definitely going to be out there in spirit."