EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz looked like his old MVP-caliber self Thursday night, slicing through the New York Giants defense to post three touchdowns, no interceptions and a 122 quarterback rating as the Eagles rolled past their division rival 34-13, improving to 3-3 in the process.
It was clear Wentz was back to form right out of the gate. Facing a third-and-7 at the Giants' 13-yard line on the Eagles' first possession, Wentz rolled out right, extended the play and then threw across his body and into the back of the end zone to a tightly-covered Alshon Jeffery for the touchdown.
"They always say, don't throw late over the middle, but with Carson those rules kind of go out the window," tight end Zach Ertz said. "You kind of just let him do his thing."
According to NFL Next Gen Stats, Wentz took 6.77 seconds to throw that touchdown pass, the third-longest by any player on a TD this season.
"When we're in the red zone, sometimes you just have to improvise," Wentz said. "It's not always the smartest thing to throw back across your body, but when you've got a guy like Alshon in the back of the end zone, you can really trust him to make a play."
Wentz found Jeffery again in the second half and also threw one to Ertz.
Suddenly, an offense that sputtered through the first five games looked like its old self. The Eagles had failed to post 24 points in a single game entering Thursday. They hit that mark before halftime. They had slipped toward the bottom of the league in red zone and third-down efficiency but bounced back by scoring four times in the red zone and converting nine third downs.
Wentz, playing in his fourth game since returning from an ACL/LCL injury, was the catalyst. He went 13-of-14 for 168 pass yards and two touchdowns on third down. Coming in, he was completing 44 percent of his third-down passes.
Granted, the Giants have been somewhat giving on defense this season -- they ranked 19th in average points allowed coming in (25.6) -- but the Eagles' offense was dealing with some issues of its own. Right tackle Lane Johnson was playing through a high ankle sprain suffered only four days prior against the Minnesota Vikings and was unable to finish. Standout left tackle Jason Peters also left early because of a biceps injury. And Philly was down two of its top running backs with Jay Ajayi on injured reserve (ACL) and Darren Sproles (hamstring) still working himself back.
The mounting injuries are a concern for the Eagles, whose schedule picks up with games against the Carolina Panthers, Jacksonville Jaguars, Dallas Cowboys and New Orleans Saints over the next five weeks.
But on Thursday, the 2017 Eagles offense showed up, and just in time to potentially save the 2018 season.
"It's huge," Wentz said. "Obviously being 3-3 is a heck of a lot better than being 2-4, being 1-0 in the division. There's definitely things we can build on, we can kind of use it as momentum now, kind of point to some things that say, 'Hey, this is who we are, don't forget that,' and then build from here."