Deep down, the scarred souls in this self-proclaimed city of familial adoration knew what had just happened.
When their superstar quarterback soared into the Southern California air and across the goal line for a touchdown that ultimately didn’t count, something didn’t feel right.
When the charismatic wunderkind resembled a statue in the pocket four plays later before somehow throwing his franchise-record 33rd touchdown pass, something didn’t look right.
When the best thing to happen to this organization in God-knows-how-long left the Los Angeles Coliseum on Sunday wrapped in a left knee brace sitting in the back of a cart, the same three words crossed everyone’s lips: We’re so screwed.
Carson Wentz’s season, the Philadelphia Eagles’ Super Bowl hopes and a city’s belief that maybe this time things would be different hang in the balance after the dynamic signal caller suffered what looks like, smells like and sounds like a season-ending ACL injury.
Philly’s 43-35 win over the Rams that clinched its first NFC East title in four years was tempered by the reality that their hopes to land the ultimate prize all but vanished.
The team will find out Monday if their fears are realized when the young leader undergoes a MRI. Few are expecting miracles.
“I’m concerned,” right tackle Lane Johnson said. “We’re in the playoffs. So that’s secured so worse comes to worse, he’ll be able to rehab. We’re trying to do some things coming up. If Carson is in, great. If not, I’m confident.”
Wentz was giving the Evil Empire’s 40-year-old cyborg quarterback a run for his money for NFL MVP honors with one month left in the regular season. Wentz. Tom Brady. Take your pick. Both were deserving candidates before the Eagles second-year quarterback took one too many chances with his feet late in the third quarter.
Carson Wentz left the Eagles’ win in the third quarter with a knee injury.
(Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Wentz’s fearlessness had bordered on recklessness, but the 6-5, 237-pound tank had gotten away with it for nearly two seasons with minimal damage.
Then, Sunday happened. A scramble, a leap and a blow to one invaluable knee that changed everything for a team, franchise and fanbase that frankly deserved better.
The flashbacks were varied for a hardened Philly faithful conditioned to expect the worst.
Maybe Bryce Paup’s season-ending blow to Randall Cunningham in the 1991 season opener flashed across their eyes. Maybe the Chicago fog from ’88 rolled back into their minds. Maybe Joe Jurevicius was running free again on that final day at The Vet. Maybe they saw Rod Martin or Jim Plunkett. Maybe it was Rodney Harrison flapping his arms after a team of (alleged) cheaters foiled them to grab the Lombardi Trophy.
Every image stung.
Haven’t these people suffered enough?
The City of Brotherly Love had transformed into Wentzylvania. Eagles fans damn near had to pinch themselves every Sunday to make sure that all of this was real. They actually had a franchise quarterback? No way. Couldn’t be. Things like this weren’t supposed to happen to these people. A 24-year-old game-changer at the most important position in team sports?
Carson Wentz is a favorite to win MVP.
(Jayne Kamin-Oncea/USA TODAY Sports)
It was Xanadu.
The Wentz Wagon was packed. He became the savior for a franchise recovering from a fast-talking, power-hungry egomaniac coach, who nearly burned the place to the ground with a litany of bone-headed moves.
Wentz was the only quarterback to throw a touchdown pass in every game this season. He threw a cool four more to help his team wipe away the memory of their primetime loss in Seattle last week.
Although the Eagles reclaimed the NFC’s top playoff seed from the Vikings, home-field throughout the postseason isn’t a lock, especially with Nick Foles under center. Philly can clinch the No. 1 seed with a win at the Giants and a Vikings loss to the Bengals next week. Even if that happens, can the Eagles realistically make it to Super Bowl LII without their biggest difference maker?
Do they stand any chance without Wentz?
“We will pray for him,” tight end Brent Celek said.
Philly fans don’t B.S. anyone or each other. It’s their most endearing quality.
They know the deal: Their Eagles are screwed.