Eagles Stay Relevant by Stopping Jags in London
(973espn.com) - With the trade deadline looming on Tuesday the Eagles cemented the fact that they should be buyers, dispensing the Jacksonville Jaguars, 24-18, at historic Wembley Stadium in London on Sunday morning.
Despite two early turnovers -- a strip sack and red-zone interception -- Carson Wentz took advantage of a banged-up and controversy-stricken Jacksonville secondary to throw for 286 yards and three touchdowns, one each to Dallas Goedert, Wendell Smallwood and Zach Ertz.
Four members of the Jags secondary were detained Saturday night for attempting to run out on a huge bill at a nightclub.
The sea change in the game came late in the second quarter with Jacksonville (3-5) ahead 6-3 and looking to extend when Blake Bortles completed a pass to Kellan Cole for what should have been a 15-yard gain to the Eagles' 43-yard line. But, rookie safety Avonte Maddox put his helmet in the football, forcing a fumble that Malcolm Jenkins returned to the Jags' 44.
Wentz ultimately took advantage of the short field by rolling out right and throwing back to Goedert, who badly beat safety Tashaun Gipson, for a 32-yard score.
After stopping the Jags to start the third quarter Philadelphia seized control with a 95-yard drive, culminated by a screen pass to Smallwood for a 36-yard TD.
From there the limited Jacksonville offense was fighting uphill in a two-score game and while able to do some things due to the sense of urgency, the Jags offense consisted of throwing underneath or a Bortles run here and there.
The Eagles defense finally secured the game by halting the Jaguars on a 4th-and-2 near midfield with just over three minutes left.
Undrafted rookie Josh Adams gave the running game a boost with nine carries for 61 yards while Smallwood added 66 total yards -- 24 on the ground and 62 receiving.
Jordan Matthews had a big game when the Eagles went to the air with four receptions for 93 yards as Wentz gashed Jacksonville for 30-plus on three occasions.
Facing a limited QB with weak receivers Jim Schwartz was much more aggressive on defense, finishing with four sacks, two by Chris Long, 1 1/2 from Jordan Hicks and one-half sack credited to Michael Bennett.
The bad news came on the injury front as right tackle Lane Johnson left early with a knee injury and starting left cornerback Jalen Mills was forced from the game in the second half with a foot injury. Left tackle Jason Peters also left for a time with a potential concussion but was cleared and did return.
"Every game is tough," Eagles coach Doug Pederson said. "Every game is a great opportunity to take a step forward. Things haven't really gone our way during the first half of this season but it was great to get this victory today and go into the break with positive thoughts obviously and get ready for the next one. I didn't think it was necessarily a must-win situation."
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen