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Carson Wentz, Corey Clement lead Eagles to dominant win over Broncos

Zach Berman, The Philadelphia Inquirer on

Published in Football

PHILADELPHIA -- It keeps getting better for the Eagles. Whenever it seems they've played their best game, they surpass it. Whenever there's an injury that could slow the Eagles, they overcome it. And whenever they're considered legitimate contenders, they validate it.

The Eagles' 51-23 win over the Denver Broncos on Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field added another high to a season full of them, and it's only Week 9. That's how long it took for the Eagles to top last year's win total, already cementing improvement in Doug Pederson's second season.

The Eagles have won seven consecutive games and are now 8-1. They enter their bye week with the best record in the NFL after sweeping their three-game homestand. It was the Eagles' first time topping 50 points since December 2013, when they scored 54 points in a win over the Bears.

Sunday's performance might have been even more impressive considering it came against the NFL's No. 1 ranked defense. That unit appeared to make the Broncos a tough team to face, but it didn't look that way with the way Eagles dominated them.

Carson Wentz finished 15 of 27 for 199 yards and four touchdowns in three quarters. Alshon Jeffery led the Eagles receivers with six catches for 84 yards and two touchdowns. In Jay Ajayi's first game with the Eagles, he dazzled with eight carries for 77 yards and a score. Corey Clement also found the end zone three times. The Eagles played without tight end Zach Ertz, who was sidelined with a hamstring injury.

The Broncos couldn't move the ball on the Eagles, twice turning the ball over and not finding the end zone until the fourth quarter when the game was well out of reach.

After the Broncos opened the game with a 52-yard field goal from Brandon McManus, the Eagles started their offensive onslaught. Wentz found Jeffery for a 32-yard touchdown to start the scoring on a beautifully designed play in which Jeffery made like he was setting up for a wide receiver screen before accelerating past Aqib Talib for the score.

Jake Elliott nailed a field goal on the Eagles' next possession before Patrick Robinson put the Eagles back in the red zone after the first of the Eagles' two interceptions. That set up Wentz's second touchdown pass of the quarter, finding Corey Clement on a screen pass for a 15-yard touchdown.

With Denver settling for field goals in the second quarter, the Eagles pushed for touchdowns. Aided by three Denver penalties to extend the Eagles' drive, Wentz hit Trey Burton for a 27-yard touchdown to give the Eagles a 24-6 lead. Burton took on a bigger role because of Ertz's injury.

Ertz might have been out of the lineup, but Ajayi joined for the first time Sunday. The Eagles introduced Ajayi to a limited sampling of 10-15 plays, but that was all he needed. The high-profile acquisition gave Eagles fans a taste of their new top running back. Late in the second quarter, he barreled through the middle of Denver's line for a 14-yard gain. He stayed on the field in the no-huddle, followed an offensive line that gave him a clean view of the Philadelphia skyline, and accelerated past Broncos tacklers for a 46-yard touchdown to give the Eagles a commanding 31-9 halftime advantage.

That's when it became clear that the Eagles would ease to their next win. But for good measure, they added to the lead in the third quarter. With possession to open the half, the Eagles went on a 13-play, 77-yard drive that took seven minutes and 28 seconds off the clock. Eight of those plays were designed rushes, including Clement's two-yard touchdown run.

The Broncos' undoing this season has been turnovers, and they hoped a quarterback change would help with ball security. Osweiler was the wrong quarterback to turn to for that objective. Osweiler hurled a deep ball that Rodney McLeod camped under for an interception at the Eagles' 39-yard line. McLeod returned the ball 50 yards, unable to score the defensive touchdown. That just set the offense up for Jeffery's second touchdown of the game.

With Jeffery's touchdowns, Pederson sat key offensive players, including Wentz. Nick Foles entered the game for a fourth quarter. Following a Denver touchdown, Foles had a forgettable start to the game, fumbling the ball on a sack that the Broncos returned for a score. But he settled in thereafter, including a pristine fourth-down pass to Nelson Agholor to set up Clement's third touchdown of the game.

By that point, the Eagles fans were chanting "We want Dallas!" That's because the Eagles have two weeks to enjoy this win before visiting the Cowboys on Nov. 19 to try to extend their winning streak and maintain the best record in the NFL.

(c)2017 The Philadelphia Inquirer

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