Philadelphia Eagles

Foles 'absolutely ready' to quarterback playoff-bound Eagles if needed

Foles 'absolutely ready' to quarterback playoff-bound Eagles if needed

LOS ANGELES — He went in to play for one team that gave up on him against another team that gave up on him.

Such is life in the NFL as a backup quarterback.

Nick Foles, now 28 years old and in his sixth NFL season, relieved an injured Carson Wentz Sunday night at the start of the fourth quarter and engineered two field goal drives as the Eagles rallied past the Rams, 43-35, at L.A. Memorial Coliseum (see breakdown).

“He was unbelievable," tight end Trey Burton said. "He stepped in there and led us and took us where we needed to be.

"He’s an unbelievable quarterback. A lot of people sometimes might forget about that, but he’s won a lot of games and he’s set a lot of records."

Although there was no word from the Eagles, team officials believe Wentz has a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee, which would presumably end his season.

If that's the case, the 11-2 Eagles would go into the playoffs with Foles at quarterback.

“I’m absolutely ready," Foles said. "That’s why I’m here. I’m ready to go. Prepare every day, work every day, ready to go if need be. That’s my job. That’s why they brought me here."

Foles didn't exactly light up the Rams, but also, in his first extended playing time in more than 13 months, he didn't make any mistakes and made a few big throws under pressure.

He entered the game with the Eagles trailing 35-31 at the start of the fourth quarter and engineered two field goal drives — the second after a takeaway deep in Rams territory.

But his biggest play was a nine-yard completion to Nelson Agholor on a 3rd-and-8 with 1:52 left that enabled the Eagles to run out all but the last few seconds on the clock.

“They went two-man coverage and it was 1-on-1 inside, and Nelson did a great job of getting off his defender," Foles said.

"I threw it away from his defender, and he did a great job catching it and getting the first down and it allowed us to run a lot of the clock out, which was big."

Head coach Doug Pederson, who was Foles' position coach with the Eagles in 2013 and his offensive coordinator in K.C. last year, showed a tremendous amount of confidence in Foles on that third and long.

“I want the ball in my hands," Foles said. "I love throwing the ball. I love having the ball in my hands, making decisions.

"It’s one of those situations where, 'Hey, if it’s not there you either run (or) just don’t make it worse,' and Nelson did a great job. Coach Pederson showed a lot of confidence in me, and he knows I can go out there and play."

Foles led the Eagles to the playoffs in 2013 with a record-setting Pro Bowl season then went 6-2 in 2014 before getting hurt. He had a dismal 2015 with the Rams and then spent 2016 with the Chiefs before returning to the Eagles this past offseason.

Talk about full circle.

“It’s odd. It’s kind of crazy. But it’s one of those things you don’t really think too much about though," he said.

"You’re really just focusing on getting a 'W' and we did. A big one on the road."

The Eagles improved to 11-2 and clinched the NFC East title for the first time since 2013, Foles' big season.

"Hell of a job by Nick coming in and making plays when we needed it," Lane Johnson said.

"Nick’s a pretty good quarterback. People have forgotten the year he had a few years ago. Nick works his tail off, so I was confident he would do just fine. He was calm. Same Nick he’s always been."

Foles' numbers Sunday were modest: 6 for 10 for 42 yards plus a nine-yard scramble.

But he did exactly what he had to do (see observations).

"He prepares, he's had success before in this league as a quarterback," Malcolm Jenkins said. "We understand he's not Carson Wentz and there are some things he can't do that Carson can do, so we'll use common sense with that, but I think everybody feels good about him throwing the ball.

"That throw to [Agholor], that's a dangerous throw, but he put the ball right where it was supposed to be and allowed his receiver to make a play at a crucial point in the game. We've got a lot of faith in Nick, and we're going to lean heavily on him if Carson isn't out there."

Foles is 20-16 in his career as a starter and 15-9 as the Eagles' starter. Sunday in L.A. was his first extended playing time in an Eagles uniform in more than three years — since he suffered a season-ending broken collarbone injury in Houston midway through the 2014 season.

"I love it," Doug Pederson said. "This guy’s come in, he’s played a lot of football games in this league. He’s started in this league. Guys have confidence in him. I have confidence in him.

"Great way to step in under these circumstances and pull this game out. It’s huge for Nick."

Even hobbled and in pain, Carson Wentz shows toughness in L.A.

Even hobbled and in pain, Carson Wentz shows toughness in L.A.

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.

"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."

Eagles 43, Rams 35: Studs, duds, turning point and more

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Eagles 43, Rams 35: Studs, duds, turning point and more

BOX SCORE

LOS ANGELES — The Eagles won a game, but they might have lost their season. 

With Nick Foles under center, the Eagles came back to beat the Rams, 43-35, at the L.A. Coliseum (see Roob's observations), but franchise quarterback Carson Wentz left the game early with a knee injury late in the third quarter (see story)

Now all they can do is wait and hope. 

The Eagles clinched the NFC East and also took back sole possession of the No. 1 spot in the NFC after Carolina beat Minnesota earlier in the day. With the win, the Eagles got back to their winning ways after a loss in Seattle. They improved to 11-2. This is the Eagles' first 11-win season since 2009. 

It's just that everything feels so hollow after the Wentz injury. 

ESPN's Adam Schefter reported the Eagles fear Wentz tore his left ACL, but the team hasn't confirmed anything since they ruled him out for the game. 

With the loss, the Rams fell to 9-4. It was just their second loss in their last eight games. 

Chris Long made a huge play in the fourth quarter (see report card). He had a strip sack that set up Jake Elliott's eventual game-winning field goal. 

After Wentz came out, Foles did enough to help the Eagles come back and win the game. It might be his job for a while.

The Eagles took a 10-point lead into halftime, but that wasn't going to be enough in this shootout. The Rams were able to come back and score the first 14 points of the second half to take the lead. 

When Wentz threw a touchdown pass just before leaving the game, the Eagles took a 31-28 lead, but the Rams answered on the next possession. The Eagles' defense had trouble stopping Todd Gurley and the Rams' offense. 

Turning point
Long's strip sack came at a time where the Eagles absolutely needed somebody to step up and make a play. The veteran pass rusher did just that. 

Key stat
Before leaving, Wentz had another four-touchdown game. Before the Arizona game this season, he had never had a three-touchdown game. Since then, he's had six in nine games. 

Offensive stud
Before going out, Wentz was having another Wentz-like game. With his third-quarter touchdown pass to Alshon Jeffery (No. 33), he became the Eagles' single-season passing touchdown record holder. He broke Sonny Jurgenson's franchise record that had stood since 1961. 

Offensive dud
LeGarrette Blount had some opportunities but didn't make the most of them. Meanwhile, Jay Ajayi was much more explosive. For some reason, he didn't get the bulk of the carries. 

Defensive stud
Fletcher Cox is always disruptive but he really seemed to get after Goff on Sunday. It had to feel good facing a quarterback who isn't as elusive as Russell Wilson. 

Defensive dud
Nigel Bradham didn't have a bad game, but he dropped a couple possible interceptions. One came just a couple plays before the Rams scored their second touchdown. He could have kept points off the board. 

Rodney McLeod didn't have a very good game either. He was beaten in coverage a couple times and missed a couple tackles. 

Key plays
• Brandon Graham scooped up the ball and scored a touchdown at the end of the game. 

• Long got a strip sack on Goff and McLeod was able to scoop it up to give the Eagles the ball on the Rams' 25-yard line. That eventually set up a 33-yard field goal from Elliott to give the Eagles a 37-35 lead. 

The Eagles' defense forced a three-and-out on the next drive. And the Eagles were able to kill some time. 

• Foles led a drive that was capped with a 41-yard field goal from Elliott. That made the score: Rams 35, Eagles 34. 

• Gurley seemed pretty unstoppable as the Rams drove down the field on a 75-yard touchdown drive to put them up 35-31 as Wentz was taken into the locker room. 

• After Wentz threw touchdown pass No. 4 of the game, he left with a knee injury and did not return. 

• On 4th-and-goal from the 2-yard line, Doug Pederson left his offense on the field and Wentz found Alshon Jeffery for a touchdown to put them back on top 31-28. It was a tremendous fingertip catch from Jeffery. 

• Donnie Jones had his punt blocked by WR Michael Thomas. It was then scooped up by Eagles 2016 draft pick Blake Countess and returned for a 16-yard touchdown to give the Rams their second lead of the game (28-24). It was their second touchdown in 1 minute and 34 seconds. 

• The Rams came out after halftime and went down the field to score easily. They went on a 71-yard touchdown drive and had the Eagles completely off balance. 

• Pederson challenged a first down spot around the two-minute warning and got it overturned to force a punt. The Eagles were then able to march down the field and get a field goal to give them a 10-point lead (24-14) heading into the locker room. 

• Bad tackling got the Eagles again in the second quarter. Jim Schwartz wasn't happy with his team's tackling in Seattle and this play was like seeing that again. Cooper Kupp caught the ball near the left sideline and made Malcolm Jenkins and Patrick Robinson miss on his way to a 64-yard play. He scored a touchdown a couple plays later to make the score 21-14. 

• Burton's second touchdown catch came early in the second quarter. This time, he caught an 11-yard pass for a touchdown. It was also Wentz's 32nd of the season, tying the franchise record. 

• The Eagles third drive resulted in a touchdown too. This drive went 88 yards on seven plays. Wentz hit Burton for a 20-yard touchdown, his first of the game. Somehow, Wentz was able to weave it through traffic and Burton made a tremendous catch. 

• After a bad first drive, the Eagles responded, going on a 75-yard drive of their own. The big play was the first of the drive when Wentz hit Corey Clement for a 28-yard screen pass. It was the longest pass to a running back all season. 

• The game didn't get off to a good start for the Birds. Wentz's second pass of the game was bobbled by Nelson Agholor and then an interception. On the ensuing drive, the Rams went 37 yards with no trouble to take a 7-0 lead. Gurley broke off a 30-yard run.

Injuries
Wentz left late in the third quarter. He suffered a knee injury and did not return. 

Left guard Stefen Wisniewski injured his ankle in the first half and did not return. Chance Warmack and then Isaac Seumalo filled in. 

The Eagles didn’t have Zach Ertz (concussion) or Joe Walker (neck) for this game. Both were listed as questionable coming into the weekend. 

Up next
The Eagles return to the East Coast, but their road trip isn't over. They're up in North Jersey to face the Giants next Sunday.