Carson Wentz opens with a TD, engineers a win in return to Eagles

PHILADELPHIA -- It wasn't always pretty, but Carson Wentz's 2018 debut ended in a 20-16 win for the Philadelphia Eagles over the Indianapolis Colts and with the arrow pointing up on his health.

Wentz, making his first start in 287 days following ACL/LCL surgery on his left knee, finished 25-of-37 for 255 yards with a touchdown and an interception (84.9 QB rating). Thanks to a clock-consuming touchdown drive in the fourth quarter and a late goal-line stand by the defense, Wentz walked off a winner in his much-anticipated return.

"It felt good to finally be out there," Wentz said. "It was kind of a long time coming, obviously. A lot of excitement, a lot of emotions."

The home crowd erupted as Wentz emerged through the smoke and came running out of the tunnel during introductions, and it stayed amped as Wentz engineered a 12-play, 79-yard drive on the Eagles' first possession that he capped with a 13-yard touchdown strike to rookie tight end Dallas Goedert. He went 5-of-7 on the drive, with all five completions going to tight ends.

Wentz sported a 111 quarterback rating entering the break. Right before halftime, he spun left to avoid the rush and sprinted for the sideline, stretching the ball forward as he dove to pick up a first down.

"I thought it was a normal scramble, to me," Wentz said. "Obviously made a guy miss in the pocket, saw the first-down marker and dove for it. Pretty standard for me."

His elusiveness wasn't quite at peak 2017 levels, but he was able to use his legs to create on several occasions.

Asked if he thought about his surgically repaired knee at any point in-game, he responded, "not at all."

Wentz hit a rough patch in the third quarter. He threw an ill-advised ball to tight end Zach Ertz that was intercepted by linebacker Anthony Walker and was stripped by Margus Hunt late in the frame. Both turnovers resulted in Colts field goals.

The Eagles mounted a penalty-aided, 17-play, 75-yard drive in the fourth that chewed up 11:18 of game clock. Wentz converted on a pair of third downs, including a 10-yard completion to Nelson Agholor down the right sideline that set up the go-ahead touchdown by Wendell Smallwood.

A Derek Barnett sack of Andrew Luck deep in Eagles territory sealed Philadelphia's win.

There were moments of rust as Wentz acclimated to game action. The decision-making wasn't always on point, and there were times when he tried to evade defenders and instead ended up being taken down -- an expected part of the learning curve as he adjusts to early limitations coming off major surgery. He was sacked five times.

But Wentz looked healthy and appeared to trust the knee. He made several clutch throws and was able to manufacture offense despite missing several of his playmakers, including running backs Jay Ajayi (back) and Darren Sproles (hamstring) and receivers Mike Wallace (broken leg) and Alshon Jeffery (shoulder).

"I thought overall, he did some nice things," coach Doug Pederson said. "Moved around well. Extended some drives for us, whether running or escaping the pocket. First time back, not bad."

Wentz should be better equipped when the Eagles (2-1) play at the Tennessee Titans next week.