The legend of Carson Wentz continues to grow after the Philadelphia Eagles (3-0) maintained their unbeaten start in a 34-3 victory Sunday at home over the Pittsburgh Steelers (2-1).
According to NFL Media's Mike Garafolo, it's the biggest loss for the Steelers since Week 2 of the 1989 season.
Wentz threw for 301 yards and two touchdowns on 23-of-31 passing. Cleveland Browns wide receiver Terrelle Pryor praised the 23-year-old:
The Eagles held a 13-3 lead at the end of the first half. Caleb Sturgis got Philadelphia on the board at the 5:29 mark of the first quarter with a 29-yard field goal. A 12-yard Jordan Matthews TD reception made it a two-score game 12:04 from the halftime interval.
The NFL provided a replay of the touchdown:
Sports Illustrated's Ben Baskin praised Wentz for looking wise beyond his years under center:
Sturgis and Chris Boswell exchanged field goals over the remainder of the second quarter.
Philadelphia's defense played a big role in limiting Pittsburgh to three first-half points. The Philadelphia Daily News' Les Bowen highlighted how ineffective the Steelers were on the ground:
In the third quarter, the Eagles broke the game open.
On a 3rd-and-8 at his own 27-yard line with a little under 13 minutes left in the quarter, Wentz improvised in the pocket and found a wide-open Darren Sproles. The veteran running back then eluded two Steelers defenders en route to the end zone. The NFL shared a replay of the 73-yard touchdown pass:
The Philadelphia Inquirer's Jeff McLane was impressed by Wentz's ability to buy himself more time prior to the throw:
According to John Gonoude, the Eagles' public relations coordinator, Sproles passed Herschel Walker for 10th all time in all-purpose yards on the play.
Philadelphia's lead then swelled to 31 points following rushing touchdowns by Wendell Smallwood and Kenjon Barner. NFLonCBS put the Steelers' massive deficit in perspective:
The New York Post's Bart Hubbuch didn't think the game was suitable viewing for small children:
After Wentz's strong start in Weeks 1 and 2, most were quick to point to the fact the Cleveland Browns and Chicago Bears didn't present stern tests.
ESPN's Mike Clay is among those changing his tune a bit after Sunday:
As much as Wentz has surprised many fans, the Eagles defense deserves a lot of credit for Philadelphia's 3-0 start. According to Football Outsiders, the unit ranked second in defensive efficiency entering Week 3, and it completely handcuffed Roethlisberger and the Steelers' passing attack.
Although Pittsburgh was still without running back Le'Veon Bell, it averaged the seventh-most total yards in the league (405.5 YPG) after two games. The Steelers gained 251 yards Sunday.
Eagles fans are right to be enthusiastic about Wentz. The team paid a steep price in order to draft him, and he looks every bit a franchise QB so far.
Still, Philadelphia's playoff hopes will likely rest heavily on the play of its defense. With more performances like Sunday's, the Eagles can establish themselves as one of the best in the NFC.
Much in the same way the result requires a reassessment of the Eagles, the Steelers might not be quite as good as advertised based on their heavy defeat. In Week 4, they have an opportunity to set the record straight at home against the Kansas City Chiefs.
If Pittsburgh soundly defeats Kansas City, it can write Sunday's loss off as more of an outlier and not indicative of the team's true talent. Falling to the Chiefs, on the other hand, would raise further doubt about the Steelers' status as a Super Bowl contender.
"Everyone is kind of playing inspired football," Wentz said, per the Eagles' official Twitter account. "Everyone is really playing as a team."
Eagles cornerback Nolan Carroll talked about how the Philadelphia defense entered Sunday's game with added motivation, per NJ Advance Media's Matt Lombardo:
It's hard going all week just hearing about how they were going to come in here and basically play smash-mouth against us, bully us and everybody was thinking the same thing nationally. We had an extra chip on our shoulder coming in. We felt like all we had to do was just dominate them as long as we can and we showed we could, I think you saw that by the results.