PHILADELPHIA – Carson Wentz ran off the field with his arms raised in triumph, a defining victory for a criticized QB who led an Eagles team limping toward the finish to first place in the NFC East.
His shaky receivers, suddenly sure-handed.
The wins that got away, now sealed in crunch time.
“You can see the sense of belief that each of these guys have,” Wentz said.
Believe this, the Eagles need one more win to go from 5-7 to division champs.
Eagles cornerback Sidney Jones broke up Dak Prescott’s fourth-down pass to wide receiver Michael Gallup in the end zone with 1:15 left in the game, and Philadelphia denied Dallas a division crown in a 17-9 win on Sunday.
“Game on the line, you know you gotta make a stop and it’s time to rise,” Jones said. “When we get those plays, we’re going to make them.”
The Cowboys (7-8) would have clinched their second straight NFC East title with a win in Philadelphia. And, they would have eliminated the Eagles (8-7), who only need to win their final game next week against the Giants to clinch the division. The Cowboys can still win the title with a win next week against Washington and an Eagles loss to the Giants.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones left his suite with time left on the clock — and perhaps with time running out on Dallas coach Jason Garrett. The difference between a division title and missing the playoffs could seal Garrett’s fate in Dallas.
“We all expected to leave here as NFC East champs,” Jones said. “We’re not.”
Yes, it’s been an ugly season for the division. But the Eagles won’t care about records if they’re hosting a NFC wild-card game.
“I guess Jason Garrett has to go take an Uber home,” Eagles defensive end Brandon Graham yelled as he walked into the locker room.
Playing with a sore right shoulder, Prescott attacked the Eagles cornerbacks on the final drive and had Dallas in position to possibly tie the game until Sidney Jones made the clutch stop.
“I had an opportunity, I just didn’t make the play,” Prescott said.
Wentz was 31-for-40 for 319 yards and a touchdown, and Miles Saunders ran for a score to keep the Eagles’ playoff hopes alive.
Prescott finished 25-for-44 for 265 yards. Two-time rushing champion Ezekiel Elliott, who had averaged 114.8 yards rushing in five games against the Eagles, was held to 47.
“We all have to own it,” Garrett said. “Unfortunately, we don’t control our destiny anymore. But we control our opportunity next week at Washington.”
Wentz gave the Eagles some breathing room when he hit former college quarterback Greg Ward for 24 yards and Miles Sanders scored on a 1-yard run on the final play of the third quarter for a 17-3 lead.
This was the game Wentz needed to win, his spirit growing after the Eagles rallied on the final drive in two straight weeks to beat the Giants and Redskins and thrust themselves back into the playoff picture. He rallied the Eagles with a pep talk in the tunnel before they hit the field for perhaps the biggest game of the 26-year-old QB’s career.
“We are built for this moment,” Wentz said. “Play with so much confidence, so much swagger, that everyone in the stadium can feel you.”
Perhaps fueled by the emotional edict, Wentz came out connecting on almost every pass, and a maligned wide receiver group that suffered a season-long case of the drops suddenly made plays.
Ravens 31, Browns 15
In Cleveland, Lamar Jackson threw three touchdown passes — two to tight end Mark Andrews late in the first half — and rushed for 103 yards as Baltimore won its 11th straight game to lock up the conference’s top seed and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
Jackson finished with 238 yards passing and went over 100 rushing yards for the fifth time this season.
The Ravens did suffer an injury that could hurt their playoff hopes as running back Mark Ingram went down without being touched in the fourth quarter. Ingram immediately grabbed his lower left leg and collapsed when he tried to stand. Ingram, who went over 1,000 yards rushing in the second quarter and caught a 12-yard TD pass from Jackson in the third, was able to walk to the sideline to be evaluated before limping to the locker room.
Dolphins 38, Bengals 35 (OT)
In Miami Gardens, Florida, a laugher became a thriller for the Dolphins, who needed overtime to beat Cincinnati.
Miami gave up 16 points in the final 29 seconds of regulation but regrouped in the extra quarter. Jason Sanders kicked a 37-yard field goal as time expired for the win.
After the gallant comeback, the Bengals (1-14) settled for clinching next year’s No. 1 draft pick. They’re assured of at least a tie for the worst record in club history, a 2-14 mark in 2002.
In Other Games
Cardinals 27, Seahawks 13
Saints 38, Titans 28
Jets 16, Steelers 10
Raiders 24, Chargers 17
Broncos 27, Lions 17
Falcons 24, Jaguars 12
Colts 38, Panthers 6
Giants 41, Redskins 35 (OT)
Chiefs 26, Bears 3