EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Carson Wentz threw more interceptions in the first five minutes of Sunday’s game – heck, the first five offensive plays – than he did in his first five games as a pro.
And they put the Eagles in a hole they couldn’t climb out of.
While Wentz eventually wound up with 364 yards passing in the 28-23 loss to the Giants (see Instant Replay), he ended the Eagles’ first two offensive drives at MetLife Stadium with interceptions.
The Giants scored 14 points off those picks and never lost their lead.
“That’s tough,” Wentz said. “The offense, basically myself, handed them 14 points, and that’s tough. But you know, it was a long game. As an offense, I thought we bounced back. We did some good things; we just didn’t come away with it.”
When the Eagles were winning, Wentz wasn’t throwing interceptions. When the team went into the bye week with a 3-0 record, he hadn’t thrown any.
So what happened Sunday?
“I think some of it is the fact that he's maybe a little bit on his back foot, not following through – there are some things mechanically that obviously will keep the ball high,” head coach Doug Pederson said. “It could be maybe a defender underneath the throw, where he's got to keep it a little bit higher – all things that are fixable, correctable, as we move forward."
Wentz’s first interception came on the Eagles’ second offensive play of the game (see standout plays from Eagles' loss). He was on the run and overthrew Nelson Agholor and Giants DB Landon Collins pulled down the ball.
Two plays later, Eli Manning hit Odell Beckham Jr. for a 26-yard touchdown to go up 7-0.
Wentz’s second interception came on the Eagles fifth offensive play. He was targeting Dorial Green-Beckham but the ball soared into the hands of Giants DB Andrew Adams (see breakdown of Wentz's performance).
Three plays later, Manning hit Roger Lewis Jr. for a 30-yard touchdown to put the Giants up 14-0 with 9:43 left in the first quarter.
“You know, I’ll have to go back and watch the tape,” Wentz said. “But I thought the reads were fine, the decisions were fine. I just airmailed them. The ball sailed on me on both of them.”
Wentz said that if he were in those same situations again, he’d make the same decision and throws – “just make better ones.”
Has soaring the ball been an issue for the rookie?
“I don’t think so, no,” said Wentz, who seemed to have a propensity for overthrowing during training camp.
After the interceptions on Sunday, the Eagles fought their way back into the game, but were never able to complete their comeback (see Roob's 10 observations from the loss). Wentz deserves plenty of credit for the almost-comeback after his disastrous start.
“He’s a young quarterback and he’s going to learn from his mistakes,” veteran left tackle Jason Peters said. “He threw a couple interceptions today; I don’t know what happened. But I just told him, don’t worry about it, let’s go to the next play. He’s going to make more plays than he don’t, so I just tell him to go to the next play, don’t worry about it. Three quarters left, let’s go get it.”
Wentz’s 364 yards was a career-high and his second 300-yard game. He’s the second Eagles’ rookie to have two 300-plus passing games and he surpassed Nick Foles for passing yards as an Eagles rookie.
Wentz’s 364-yard performance is the second best in Eagles’ history for a rookie – Foles threw for 381 in a win over Tampa Bay in 2012.
So despite the two early interceptions, Wentz helped the Eagles get back and have a chance to take a lead late. He just missed the mark on a fourth-down pass to Jordan Matthews in the end zone in the fourth quarter and Matthews couldn’t make a play.
Another chance late in a game, another tally mark in the loss column.
“As a team, we just have to learn how to finish,” Wentz said. “That’s what I keep saying. It sounds cliché, but really it just comes down to executing. Outside of the first two interceptions, I thought we moved the ball OK. We just couldn’t finish drives in the red zone. We didn’t finish at the end of the game either.”
It seems like a long time ago when the Eagles were 3-0 and Wentz was trying to set the record for pass attempts to start a career without an interception.
Despite a huge passing performance on Sunday, the Eagles weren’t able to overcome those two costly first-quarter turnovers.
“The thing is with him, he probably doesn’t let it bother him as much as maybe it bothers me on the sideline,” Pederson said. “That’s the beauty of this kid. He’s so mature that way and we slowly climbed our way back into this football game and gave ourselves an opportunity at the end of the game. Obviously, if we eliminate those two mistakes early, things could be different.”