EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- An avalanche of injuries has left the Philadelphia Eagles barely recognizable, but that was no issue for Carson Wentz and his teammates, who muscled past the New York Giants 34-17 on Sunday to capture the NFC East title.
The Eagles (9-7) advance to the playoffs and will host the Seattle Seahawks in the wild-card round Sunday at 4:40 p.m. ET.
A Philadelphia team that entered Sunday's game without star tight end Zach Ertz, all three of its original starting receivers, right tackle Lane Johnson and both starting cornerbacks was further depleted when running back Miles Sanders(ankle) and guard Brandon Brooks (shoulder) were knocked out of the game in the first half.
Wentz made it work with a piecemeal offense that included five skill position players who spent time on the practice squad this season, including running back Boston Scott (138 yards, 3 TDs) and Josh Perkins (4 catches, 50 yards, TD). Wentz finished 23-of-40 for 289 yards and a touchdown. In the process, he became the first player in NFL history to throw for 4,000 yards in a season without a 500-yard wide receiver, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.
He also set a franchise record for single-season completions (388) and became the first quarterback in team history to reach 4,000 yards (4,039).
"I'm just extremely grateful to be healthy and to be playing in this meaningful game," said Wentz, who suffered major injuries late in each of the two previous seasons. "And I know the guys are fired up. We're fired up. It was quite the regular season for us, with a lot of ups and downs, and the way we responded late in the year with our backs against the wall, to do what we did and to get to this moment, I think guys are thankful for it. But we're still hungry."
The defense came up with the defining play of the game, as Malcolm Jenkins jarred the ball loose from Daniel Jones following a bad snap, and Fletcher Cox recovered deep in Giants territory to set up Scott's second touchdown of the game early in the fourth quarter. The Eagles ran away from there.
"What I love about this football team is how we have stuck together the entire season through all the ups and downs, through all the injuries, we've battled, we've put ourselves in this position to win the NFC East," coach Doug Pederson said. "We've done that. But what I see from our players in they're already talking about next week, coming to work this week and preparing for next week, and it just tells me that the guys are in the right frame of mind."
Philadelphia enters the postseason on a roll despite all the injuries. Pederson's group has won four in a row -- all against NFC East opponents.
Whether the banged-up group can keep it going against stiffer competition in the playoffs is another matter altogether. But internally, the Eagles are believers.
After the win, the players received divisional championship T-shirts that read, "The East is not enough," sending the immediate message that there's more work to be done.
"That's true. It's not enough," said defensive end Brandon Graham, who finished with a sack and three tackles for loss. "That was one of our goals but that ain't everything. In order for us to go out the way we want to, we've got to go for the whole thing. What's a better way to go than when people already don't believe in the team and we're about to lose the first round -- that's what everybody's about to say, anyway. I'm just happy that we've got a bunch of guys that don't listen to that garbage, or use it as motivation, and we just keep it rolling."