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Eagles vs. Colts Week 3 observations and reaction

It was the first NFL game where I felt like a pirate, watching and cringing with one eye open each time Carson Wentz scrambled to keep a play alive.

But man is it nice to have him back.

Aye, aye, Captain Carson!

Wentz wasn’t sharp in his first game back following his ACL and LCL tear, but the Philadelphia Eagles defense held down the fort in a 20-16 win over the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday afternoon.

Wentz finished 25-of-37 for 255 yards with a touchdown for the Eagles (2-1), but did turn the ball over twice, which led to a pair of field goals for the Colts (1-2). Nineteen of his 25 completions went to tight ends as the Eagles continue to struggle at wideout without Alshon Jeffery.

Wentz certainly passed the knee test with some electrifying scrambles.

Those two mistakes nearly cost the Eagles the game if not for their 17-play, 11:18 go-ahead touchdown drive in the fourth quarter. Wentz got caught staring down Ertz before Anthony Walker undercut it for an interception.

The other miscue occurred when Wentz attempted to step up in the pocket and was stripped by Margus Hunt. Wentz had a couple overthrows early and his processing speed wasn’t as lightning quick as he’s accustomed to, but rust was expected.

The Eagles essentially controlled the game, possessing the ball for 40:20, but those two giveaways kept Indianapolis in the game. The offense wasn’t consistent, but did go on three long, methodical treks. Their 11:18 march was their longest since 2000. Philly also embarked on a 12-play, 79-yard touchdown series to start the contest, which took 5:11 off the clock and a 5:33 field-goal drive that went 75 yards in 13 snaps.

The 11:18 drive began at the 14:20 mark of the fourth quarter after an Adam Vinatieri field goal put the Colts in front 16-13 following Wentz’s fumble. Nelson Agholor, who had four receptions for 24 yards, picked up a pair of critical first downs. He moved the chains on a 3rd-and-6 when he was able to evade Darius Leonard and leapt for the marker on a 3rd-and-9 after hauling in the crossing pattern.

The much-maligned Wendell Smallwood punched it in four yards out to put the Eagles in front with 3:06 to go. He averaged 5.6 yards per run and gained 56 yards on 10 totes, tying Corey Clement for the rushing lead on six less carries.

Aided by an 18-yard pass interference penalty on Jalen Mills, the Colts quickly moved into Eagles territory on their ensuing series. Mills got called for a pair of pi’s on Indy’s T.Y. Hilton, but besides those two plays, I thought Mills tackled and had a nice pass break-up on Eric Ebron in the end zone.

Indianapolis eventually matriculated the ball into the red zone, but that’s where the Eagles’ defense stiffened. Derek Barnett recorded the sack on fourth down, using his patented speed rush to get to the quarterback.

The Eagles’ opening drive was a masterpiece. Wentz was 5-of-7 for 55 yards with all of his completions going to tight ends, three of them to Zach Ertz.

Dallas Goedert, who caught all seven of his targets for 73 yards and a touchdown, put the Eagles on the board with a 13-yard TD catch. It was nice to see him finally get involved after only being targeted three times the first two weeks.

Ertz snagged five balls for 73 yards. Philly used a lot of two-to-three tight end sets throughout the game. Josh Perkins had just one catch for 10 yards and another piss poor drop, but Doug Pederson relied on his tight ends Sunday and they came through.

Jordan Matthews caught two passes for 21 yards in his first game back in an Eagles uniform.

The Colts answered with a touchdown drive to tie the score late in the first and Jake Elliott added a second quarter field goal to stake the Eagles to a 10-7 halftime edge.

Besides that Colts scoring drive, the Eagles’ defense didn’t allow much. Andrew Luck was 25-of-40 for just 164 yards as good secondary play led to a lot of checkdowns. T.Y. Hilton led the team with 50 yards on five receptions.

Another key point of the game was the Colts’ lack of success in money-down situations. They were 2-for-12 on third down and 1-for-2 on fourth, while Philly was 6-of-14 on third down.

If you take Luck’s 33-yard scramble away, Indy averaged just 2.9 yards per carry.

The Eagles head off to Tennessee next week to take on the Titans, who moved to 2-1 on the year following a 9-6 victory over Jacksonville Sunday.

You can follow Adrian Fedkiw on Twitter (@AdrianFedkiw) and e-mail him at [email protected]. Subscribe to The Bitter Birds on YouTube here.

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