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November 05, 2017

How the Eagles scored 51 points and absolutely dominated the NFL’s best defense

With Brock Osweiler making his first start of the season at quarterback for the Denver Broncos, it’s not surprising that the Philadelphia Eagles were able to hold their offense to just one touchdown on Sunday.

What was surprising, however, was the 400-plus-yard performance by the Eagles offense. It’s not because they aren't capable – it’s just that the Broncos have arguably the best defense in the NFL. Heading into play on Sunday they ranked first in yards allowed, second in rushing yards allowed and sixth in passing yards allowed. 

That's likely going to change after the beatdown put on them by Carson Wentz and the offense.

The 51 points scored by the Eagles? That's by far the most the Broncos (3-5) have surrendered in 2017 – and the most the Eagles (8-1) have scored in a game under Doug Pederson.

The 419 yards of offense? That’s also the most the Broncos have allowed all season – their previous high was 286, but the Eagles eclipsed that less than three minutes into the second half. 

It wasn’t just that the Eagles offense looked utterly dominant in their 51-23 win over the Broncos. They were also playing without Wentz’s most reliable receiving option, Zach Ertz, who leads all tight ends with six touchdowns this year. And the offense didn’t miss a beat. In fact, they looked better than they’ve looked all season. 

As has been the case much of the season, it was all about Wentz, who didn’t seem bothered at all by the absence of his favorite target. His numbers weren’t eye-popping – 15/27 for 199 yards – but he completed passes to seven different receivers. Oh, he also threw four touchdown passes to three different receivers before being lifted midway through the fourth quarter for Nick Foles.

And against Von Miller and the Broncos pass rush, the offensive line held up well in its second game without Jason Peters, as Wentz was sacked just once and that didn’t come until the third quarter.

Wentz’s four scores were bookended by a pair of TD throws to Alshon Jeffery, who caught six passes for 84 yards, including this one to get the Eagles’ scoring started.

Trey Burton, who caught one of Wentz's touchdowns, and Brent Celek combined for five catches, 80 yards and a score. See, it’s almost like Ertz was out there the whole time.

On the ground, Eagles fans got their first look at Jay Ajayi – and he didn’t disappoint. The former Dolphins running back who was acquired on Tuesday had been without a touchdown through the first eight weeks of the season. But he didn’t even need an entire half on Sunday to get his first of the season, thanks to this 46-yard run late in the second quarter.

Ajayi finished with 77 yards on eight carries while LeGarrette Blount ran the ball nine times for 37 yards. 

But the real story here was undrafted free agent rookie Corey Clement, who technically got the start for the Eagles and scored three touchdowns on the day, two on the ground and one through the air. Clement finished with a team-high 12 carries for 51 yards (plus that 15-yard receiving TD). 

Not that they needed it with how well they were running it against the Broncos, but the Birds even brought out the option.

Largely missing from the Eagles running back rotation – and Duce Staley rotated them quite a bit in this one – was Wendell Smallwood. He didn’t touch the ball until there were under three minutes left and it was pretty obvious that he was in the game for mop-up duties. He ran well, with his first carry going for 26 yards, but it's quite obvious that he's now below Clement on the depth chart.

When all was said and done, the Eagles finished with 197 yards on the ground. Prior to Sunday’s game, the most the Broncos had allowed was 148 to the Giants; they held their six other opponents to 80 or fewer rushing yards.

Each week, it looks like there's reason for Eagles fans to at least wonder if this will be the week their current winning streak (now at seven games) will come to an end. And each week, they find a way to silence the critics in an even more impressive fashion. 

Now, heading into the bye at an NFL-best 8-1, the Eagles can enjoy a week off before they return to face the Cowboys in Dallas. After the way they played Sunday, they deserve it.

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