Carson Wentz leads Eagles to 20-16 comeback win over Colts
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Carson Wentz shook off rust and defenders.
Wentz threw a touchdown pass on his first drive in nine months, Wendell Smallwood ran in from the 4 for the go-ahead score and the Philadelphia Eagles held on for a 20-16 victory over the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday.
“It was a long time coming,” Wentz said after playing his first game since he tore two ligaments in his left knee last Dec. 10. “It felt great.”
Adam Vinatieri tied Morten Andersen’s career record of 565 field goals by connecting on all three tries, but the Colts (1-2) couldn’t take advantage of two turnovers by Wentz inside the 20 in the second half.
“I like to step out there and kick field goals,” Vinatieri said, “but it’s better kicking extra points, that’s for sure.”
The defending Super Bowl champion Eagles (2-1) needed two defensive stops against Andrew Luck in the final 90 seconds.
Indy had a first down at the Eagles 11 and two cracks from the 4, but Luck’s pass to T.Y. Hilton sailed over his shoulder in the left corner of the end zone on third down and Derek Barnett sacked Luck on fourth down.
The Colts got the ball again at their 11 with 39 seconds remaining but couldn’t reach midfield. Jacoby Brissett threw a desperation pass on the final play that fell incomplete.
“We knew we fell short in the red zone,” Luck said. “Our guys gave us a chance at the end. What else can you ask on the road against the defending Super Bowl champs.”
Wentz engineered the winning drive with precise passes and nifty moves. Wentz eluded a sack and threw a 10-yard pass to Nelson Agholor, who hurdled for a first down on third-and-9 to extend the drive at the Colts 26.
Four plays later, Smallwood scored to make it 20-16.
“That was huge,” Wentz said.
Fans welcomed back Wentz with a standing ovation when he ran through the tunnel during introductions.
On a wet, soggy field, Wentz showed no effects of the injury at the start. He misfired on his first pass, then connected over the middle to Zach Ertz and kept going. Running a no-huddle offense, Wentz drove the Eagles 79 yards in 12 plays and capped it with a 13-yard TD pass to Dallas Goedert for a 7-0 lead.
Wentz was sacked five times, scrambled three times and dove for a first down on one of his runs.
“It felt like riding a bike, get hit and pop back up again,” he said.
But the offense couldn’t get much going until the fourth quarter. Wentz nearly gave the Colts the game.
First, he stared down Ertz and floated a pass that was picked by Anthony Walker and returned to the Eagles 16. But the Colts only managed a 31-yarder by Vinatieri that gave them a 13-10 lead.
After Jake Elliott answered with a 24-yarder on the following drive, Margus Hunt knocked the ball out of Wentz’s hands and recovered the fumble at the Eagles 13. Philadelphia’s defense again held and Vinatieri made a 28-yard field goal to give Indianapolis a 16-13 lead.
“Those are things that can’t happen,” Eagles coach Doug Pederson said of the turnovers. “Overall, for his first time back, not so bad.”
Luck threw a 5-yard TD pass to Ryan Grant to tie it 7-7 after Elliott missed a 55-yard field goal wide left.
Colts: Luck was 25 of 40 for 164 yards, one TD
Eagles: Wentz finished 25 of 37 for 255 yards, one TD and one pick.
Colts coach Frank Reich was Philadelphia’s offensive coordinator the previous two seasons.
Wentz’s return sent Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles back to the sideline. Foles replaced Wentz in Week 14 and led the Eagles to their first NFL title since 1960.
Undrafted rookie Josh Adams, the fifth-leading rusher in Notre Dame history, had 30 yards rushing on six carries for the Eagles. He was promoted from the practice squad earlier in the week.
Wentz avoided a sack, ran toward the sideline and dove out of bounds for a first down on third-and-6 on the final drive of the first half. ... Luck outran Eagles defensive lineman Chris Long for a 33-yard gain in the second quarter.
Colts: RT Joe Haeg left with an ankle injury. ... LT Anthony Castonzo (hamstring) was out again and RB Marlon Mack (hamstring, foot) also sat.
Eagles: S Rodney McLeod left with a right knee injury after colliding with teammate Mills in the third quarter. ... RBs Jay Ajayi (back) and Darren Sproles (hamstring) were out and WR Alshon Jeffery (shoulder) missed his third straight game.
Colts: Host the Houston Texans next Sunday.
Eagles: Visit the Tennessee Titans next Sunday.