Carson Wentz continues his hot start as Eagles drub Cardinals

The Philadelphia Eagles strengthened their hold on the NFC East lead on Sunday, beating back the visiting Arizona Cardinals, 34-7, to up their record to 4-1.

As he’s done for much of the season, quarterback Carson Wentz continued to show his growth in his second season.

Wentz completed 21-of-30 passes for 304 yards, four touchdowns and one interception as the Eagles won their third straight game. He spread the ball around, connecting with eight receivers total.

Eagles QB Carson Wentz (C) celebrates his team’s first touchdown against the Cardinals on Sunday. (AP)

Philadelphia was up 21-0 before the first quarter was out, taking advantage of poor play by the Arizona offense, a great punt return by Kenjon Barner, and a great play from Wentz to Torrey Smith.

After the Cardinals went three-and-out to open the game, Wentz and the Eagles took over at their own 46. It took 10 plays to cover 54 yards, since Wentz took his only sack of the game and Corey Clement was dropped for a one-yard loss on a second-down play, but they got to the end zone, on a 15-yard Wentz-to-Trey Burton touchdown.

After another Arizona failure on third-and-long, Barner returned Andy Lee‘s punt 76 yards, putting the Eagles at the Cardinals 15. Three plays later, the Eagles were up 14-0, with Wentz this time hitting leading receiver Zach Ertz on a play-action pass and Ertz diving over a defender and into the end zone.

Ertz’s third and fourth touchdowns were straight out of Madden.

The touchdown to Smith came on a deep throw, taking advantage of less-than-ideal coverage by Justin Bethel. Bethel stumbled as the ball came in to Smith, freeing the receiver to run the final 20 yards for the touchdown.

On the fourth, Nelson Agholor blew past Budda Baker in the middle of the field, made the catch of the deep pass, then spun and swatted Baker away for the final steps for his third score of the season, a 72-yard play.

Through five games this season, Wentz is well ahead of almost every statistic he had as a rookie last year: he’s now 110-for-177 passing for 1,362 yards, 10 touchdowns and three interceptions.

Last season, he had 16 touchdowns and 14 interceptions, starting all 16 games. His completion percentage is essentially the same – 62.1 percent this year, 62.4 percent in 2016.

If there’s one number the Eagles might be taking note of, it’s sacks. Wentz was sacked once against Arizona, meaning he’s been brought down 13 times total, ahead of last year’s total. He was sacked 33 times last year. Wentz might be young, but when you have a franchise quarterback, keeping him upright is paramount.

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