PHILADELPHIA -- The image that will remain when the rest of the details from Sunday's 24-20 loss against the Atlanta Falcons fade is of Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz defiantly cocking to throw as Vic Beasley Jr., wrapped around his lower body like a boa constrictor, wrangles him to the ground.
Falling forward and with his knee barely off the turf, Wentz somehow heaved it 17 yards downfield to Mack Hollins on third down to keep a fourth-quarter scoring drive alive.
"I don't know how he gets that off. I'll say 90% of quarterbacks just go down, don't even try, and he's over there putting his body on the line just to try and win the game," tight end Zach Ertz said. "One of the best players in the league."
Teammates gushed about Wentz's leadership and grit on a night otherwise defined by the rash of injuries that hit the Eagles, particularly at the skill positions. Wentz absorbed 10 QB hits and was sacked three times. One particularly fierce blow courtesy of Deion Jones had Wentz grabbing at his ribs as he left the field. Another sent him into the blue medical tent to be tested for a concussion.
It served as a notice that for all of the changes Wentz made this offseason in the name of health and career longevity, when things get muddy, he's still going to get knee-deep in the slop.
"I'm going to do everything I can to protect myself, to get the ball out, to play and stay healthy, but [Sunday] was the way it was and we battled and we fought and I did the same, and that's just football," Wentz said. "At the end of the day, I'm not going to lose too much sleep over it."
The same might not be said for Eagles fans and higher-ups in the organization, who held their breath over every Wentz wince -- and rightfully so, given that his past two seasons were cut short as a result of major injuries.
Game 1 against the Washington Redskins was a much smoother ride. The Eagles' offensive line held up, Wentz got the ball out quickly and he absorbed little punishment. It was a performance that suggested he might be turning over a new leaf, allowing the system and his playmakers to work for him rather than taking on much of the heavy lifting himself.
But when he was stripped of some of those playmakers -- DeSean Jackson and Alshon Jeffery both exited with injuries -- and the system wasn't operating with the same efficiency, Wentz dove head-first into the slobber-knocker affair.
"Obviously, this is a physical, violent game. Quarterbacks are going to get hit. We saw two quarterbacks in the league yesterday get hit, or one get hit and one on a throw," said coach Doug Pederson, referencing the injuries to Ben Roethlisberger and Drew Brees. "So it's part of the game.
"It's one thing you love about Carson is his toughness. You’d love to see him maybe throw the ball a bit sooner here and there. But the fact that he performed well yesterday and really kept us in this football game -- the throw to Mack in the fourth quarter was unbelievable. For him to escape the pocket like he did a couple times was unbelievable. And those are things you can't really coach. You don't really teach those things. That's just natural, God-given instinct. It's hard to take that away from a player and yet, at the same time, you still want him to protect himself the best he can, but he's making plays for you and I’m not going to take that from him."
Two games, two different styles of play from Wentz. Both can come in handy, but both can also cause indigestion. And that's the deal, it seems, when it comes to Wentz. He's going to continue to toe the line, and at times cross it -- the threat of bodily harm and recent injury history be damned.