PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Carson Wentz shook off the rust quickly and DeSean Jackson provided the spark the Philadelphia Eagles needed to offset a shaky defense.
That could be the story all season.
Wentz threw for 313 yards and three touchdowns in a 32-27 win over the Washington Redskins on Sunday in his first game back from a back injury that forced him to miss the last five games, including two playoff games, last season.
Jackson celebrated his return to Philadelphia with eight receptions for 154 yards and a pair of 50-plus-yard TD catches.
An offense with potential to be dynamic took a quarter to get going before racking up 436 yards as the team rallied from a 17-0 deficit. The defense surrendered 380 yards passing and three TDs to Case Keenum, didn’t get much pressure up front and looked suspect in the secondary before stepping up in the second half.
“It was the difference between the two halves,” coach Doug Pederson said Monday. “You think about defensively we couldn’t get off the field on third down in the first half, but yet we did in the second half, and offensively we couldn’t convert a third down, and in the second half we did. It’s just a credit to the guys making subtle adjustments at halftime, but it just boiled down to execution, and the only way we were going to get back in the game was to convert those, honestly, and they did a nice job doing that.”
Jackson’s ability to stretch the field was quite evident on the two deep balls, and his presence makes a talented offense even more dangerous because it opens up things for other receivers. Alshon Jeffery had five catches for 49 yards and one TD, plus he turned a backward pass into a 2-yard TD run. Zach Ertz had five catches for 54 yards. Nelson Agholor and Dallas Goedert weren’t big factors only because there’s one ball. The offense didn’t just rely on the pass. Darren Sproles, Jordan Howard and Miles Sanders combined for 116 yards rushing.
WHAT NEEDS HELP
The pass rush was an area of concern entering the season and the lack of pressure on Keenum was obvious. He was sacked once and had too much time in the pocket to pick apart the secondary. The Eagles need more from their front four to take the burden off the defensive backs.
Howard averaged a team-high 7.3 yards per carry, finishing with 44 yards. He also reached down to make a nice grab on one of his two catches for 11 yards. Howard ran hard, was tough to bring down, and could see an increased workload.
Rasul Douglas got a slightly surprise start over Sidney Jones at one of the outside cornerback spots. Both got beaten by Terry McLaurin on deep passes, but Keenum overthrew the one pass that Jones had in coverage. Douglas was burned for a TD.
Defensive tackle Malik Jackson, a key signing in free agency, suffered an injury to his left foot late in the game and wore a walking boot afterward. Pederson said the team is waiting for more test results but called the injury “significant” and expects Jackson to miss a lot of time.
12 of 13 — Wentz was 12 of 13 for 197 yards and three TDs on third down. The offense converted 11 of 17 third downs.
The Eagles (1-0) hit the road to face the Atlanta Falcons (0-1) on Sunday night. Matt Ryan, Julio Jones and Co. are trying to avenge losses in Philly in a divisional-round playoff game two years ago and the NFL season opener in 2018.
More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL
Copyright © 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.