One thing Carson Wentz didn’t have, in his first 18 NFL starts, was a close win pulled out in the final seconds.
Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field, Wentz scratched that item off his list. Wentz’s final passing line of 21 for 31 for 176 yards and a touchdown was unremarkable, but he saved the best for last.
Seven seconds left in the game, second and 10 from the Eagles’ 38, Wentz found Alshon Jeffery on the far sideline for 19 yards, Wentz’s longest completion of the day. Jeffery stepped out of bounds with one second remaining. Then Jake Elliott, a kicker known for having range if not accuracy, blasted the 61-yard, game-winning field goal, the longest in Eagles history, and the longest ever made in a game involving the Giants.
“Honestly, they had pretty decent coverage, but sometimes with a guy like Alshon, you just have to give him a chance,” Wentz said. “I knew seven seconds was definitely pushing it with the route, which I think was 15 yards, but in those situations, you just have to take some chances.”
Wentz had missed Jeffery with a touchdown bomb early, Jeffery wide open. Jeffery was having a forgettable day before the final catch — three grabs on seven targets for 37 yards. He’d taken a facemask penalty that helped stall the Eagles’ previous drive, making the Birds settle for a 46-yard field goal.
“I just wanted to get out of bounds,” Jeffery said. “I saw two defenders hit each other. I was just thinking, “Get out of bounds and we’ll take our chances with a Hail Mary or a kick.’ … If there was more time left, I think I would have kept going.”
“A year ago, we were always coming up just one play short, one play here or one play there,” Wentz said. “To fight until the end, to have that comeback, put that drive together and kick that game-winning field goal, that was huge for us.”
Changing of the guard
The Eagles started Chance Warmack at left guard in place of Isaac Seumalo, but Warmack rotated with veteran Stefen Wisniewski. It’s uncommon for the guards to rotate throughout the game. Doug Pederson said that was the plan.
“Just the fact that we wanted to give both of those guys an opportunity today, and it just so happened that [Wisniewski] ended up taking the bulk of the reps, but we had them both ready,” Pederson said. “I think it was just based on performance at the time, and it’s kind of like receivers, we rotate them from time to time. But in this position, it was just based on performance.”
Wisniewski appeared to play better than Warmack, who struggled in pass protection and gave up an early sack. They both might have been an upgrade over Seumalo, who was active but relegated to special teams.
“He’s still in the mix,” Pederson said of Seumalo. “Just an opportunity to see it from a big picture. And moving forward, we’ll evaluate it this week.”
Wisniewski told reporters he tried “blocking air” on the sideline to stay ready, visualizing what he would do when he’s in the game.
Left tackle Jason Peters said he did not know there would be a rotation. He’s played next to both players before – Warmack in practice this season, and Wisniewski last season.
“Wiz is more of a technician – he’s almost like a center at guard, which he really is, and he knows the offense, giving calls, more of a communicator,” Peters said. “Chance is more of an aggressor. He wants to get into the linebackers.”
Foul is fair
On a third down late in the fourth quarter, the game tied at 21, Malcolm Jenkins clotheslined Odell Beckham Jr. for pass interference, costing the Eagles 28 yards. The penalty put the Giants in field-goal range, but Jenkins said that if he hadn’t committed the penalty, Beckham would have caught the pass for a 54-yard touchdown.
“Not going to let him score in that situation.” Jenkins said.
The Eagles held the Giants to a field goal, taking pressure off their offense to score a touchdown in the final minutes of the game. Beckham left for a few plays, but he said he didn’t think Jenkins’ hit was dirty.
“He made a smart play,” Beckham said. “I’m running down the field. I’m going to make a play and he stops that.”
The Giants put Odell Beckham Jr. back to try to return Jake Elliott’s final try if it came up short. At least two Eagles said they didn’t really see the kick go through, but they took their cues from Beckham.
Beau Allen blocked for the kick, then took off to stop the possible return.
“I was sprinting down the field, getting ready to cover, and I didn’t quite see it go in. [Then] I saw [Beckham] kind of walking away, slowly,” Allen said. “I turned back and it was kind of, chaos erupted on the field. That was a great feeling, man.”
Rookie corner Rasul Douglas: “I’m looking at Odell and I don’t see him put his hands up. I thought, ‘This ball has a chance.’ He put his head down and I thought, ‘Oh, this must be good!’ It went in and everyone just went crazy.”
Get insights on the Eagles delivered straight to your inbox with Early Birds, beat writer Zach Berman’s twice-weekly newsletter for Eagles fans. Click here to sign up.