This is why sports is the best.
Because the Eagles can move into first place a month into the season with their first win of the year on a 42-yard touchdown catch by Travis Fulgham and a pick-6 by Alex Singleton.
Two practice squad alums who might have been the least likely heroes on the roster when the game began.
The outmanned, underdog Eagles went into Levi's Stadium and shocked the 49ers, 25-20, Sunday night to not only save their season but somehow move into sole possession of first place in the NFC East.
Here's our 10 Instant Observations:
1. With one improbable touchdown pass to Travis Fulgham – TRAVIS FULGHAM, FOR CRYING OUT LOUD – it seemed like the Carson Wentz of old had returned to Earth and the evil imposter wearing his uniform these last few weeks had finally disappeared. Wentz wasn’t perfect Sunday night, but considering what he had around him – a bunch of practice squad receivers, a decimated offensive line and a non-existent running game – he was brilliant after a sluggish start. This was vintage Wentz. Escaping trouble. Using his legs. And throwing a go-ahead 4th-quarter miracle TD to a kid just up from the practice squad. One thing that’s always been true with Carson: No matter how bad things are going, he always keeps fighting. Do that and you give your team a chance. No matter who your receivers and linemen are. Not a great performance statistically, but a great performance nonetheless.
2. My other big takeaway from this game is that it shows Doug Pederson’s voice is still being heard in the locker room. And honestly I had some doubts over the past few weeks. Because this was a team on the brink of collapse after that miserable tie vs. the Bengals a week earlier, and the effect of all the injuries – 15 regulars not in uniform – and three weeks of winless football can take the life out of a football team. But this is where Doug has always been at his best. He had them ready and they responded.
3. Let’s talk about Travis Fulgham. The Packers cut him on Aug. 19. The Eagles got him on waivers Aug. 20. They cut him on Sept. 3. They signed him to the practice squad Sept. 6. They promoted him to the active roster Saturday. He was playing his first game as an Eagle. He had never caught a pass before Sunday. And on a 2nd-and-18 with six minutes left in the game and the Eagles trailing by 14-11, he reels in a 42-yard beauty from Carson, manages to stay in bounds down the left sideline the final few yards and finds his way into the end zone. In his first game as an Eagle. That’s as wild as it gets. Good for that kid being ready and coming up huge on national TV with the game and the season on the line. Howie Roseman deserves a lot of blame for the current state of the roster, but you’ve got to give him credit for finding a guy like Fulgham on the waiver wire.
4. And then there’s Alex Singleton, another practice squad alum and a guy who had played ELEVEN career defensive snaps before he went in Sunday night for injured T.J. Edwards. His pick-6 was just as big. This is the only team where the practice squad guys are better than the regular guys.
5. Exceptional night by the Eagles’ defensive line, something they desperately needed to even be in this game. Genard Avery flashed for the first time, Derek Barnett, Brandon Graham and Josh Sweat got consistently good pressure and the interior rotation of Fletcher Cox, Javon Hargrave and Malik Jackson did their thing, Cox gutting it out despite some physical issues. Let’s face it, the d-line is the Eagles’ only elite unit on either side of the ball right now, and if the Eagles are going to have any chance to beat anybody it’s going to be with the d-line going off, and they came up huge.
6. Avery, who had done nothing since the Eagles got him at last year’s trade deadline, was very active throughout and for the first time showed why the Eagles were willing to part with a 4th-round pick. He had a sack, a tackle for loss and FIVE quarterback hurries, including a big one in the final seconds. If the Eagles can get consistent production from Avery in addition to the other edge rushers, it will make this defensive line even more dangerous.
7. How about a shoutout to Cameron Johnston, whose monster punting really gave the Eagles’ short-handed defense a boost. Johnston – who has the highest career average in NFL history – averaged 51 yards on six punts, and his final punt – down to the 12 – gave the 49ers a long field for their final drive. Cam is a beast.
8. Enough with Nate Gerry. His strength was supposed to be coverage, but he’s been terrible in coverage this year, awful trying to tackle and lame against the run. Let’s get the Shaun Bradley Era started. The rookie 5th-round pick from Temple might not be ready, but he can’t be worse. While we’re at it, give Davion Taylor a few more weeks and get him in there for Duke Riley. Bradley, Taylor and Singleton at linebacker, anybody?
9. I like Doug going for 2 to open the game – the first time in franchise history they’ve done that after a game-opening touchdown. After the punt debacle in overtime Sunday, it was a good way to show his players that he’s still going to be aggressive and still going to be that high-flying risk-taking riverboat gambler he was in 2017.
10. One last thing about Carson. He’s one of the toughest dudes I’ve ever seen. Whether he’s playing well or playing terribly. I really admire that about him.