PHILADELPHIA — Carson Wentz had 278 yards passing and two touchdowns in a stellar NFL debut and the Philadelphia Eagles beat Robert Griffin III and the Cleveland Browns 29-10 on Sunday.
Promoted from No. 3 quarterback to starter just eight days ago, the No. 2 overall pick from North Dakota State looked like a potential franchise player. Wentz played mistake-free football despite missing the last three preseason games with injured ribs. He finished 22 of 37 with a 101.0 passer rating.
“I felt very confident,” Wentz said. “It’s a great first start.”
A new quarterback (Griffin) and new coach (Hue Jackson) couldn’t help the Browns (0-1) avoid losing their opener for the 12th straight season.
Wentz threw a 19-yard TD pass to Jordan Matthews on the opening drive and tossed a perfect 35-yard TD pass down the right side to Nelson Agholor for a 22-10 lead in the third quarter.
“You can’t throw those any better,” Matthews said. “That’s all about timing, accuracy and poise.”
Wentz was slated to be inactive until the Eagles (1-0) traded Sam Bradford to Minnesota on Sept. 3. He leapfrogged backup Chase Daniel on the depth chart, a bold move by rookie coach Doug Pederson that paid off in Week 1.
Matthews dropped Wentz’s first pass, but the rookie completed the next four for 57 yards. Zach Ertz made an outstanding, one-handed grab for a 14-yard gain on Wentz’s second pass. Wentz went back to Matthews for a TD and a 7-0 lead.
The Browns finally got going in the second quarter. Terrelle Pryor made a leaping catch for a 44-yard gain to Philadelphia’s 9. After a pass interference call against Malcolm Jenkins negated a stop on third down, Isaiah Crowell ran in from the 2 to cut it to 10-7.
“I saw a team that was sporadic to start. Then I saw a team that was fighting,” Jackson said.
THEY SAID IT: Browns WR Corey Coleman: “We have stuff to work on. That’s it.” … Eagles LB Connor Barwin: “It’s hard for any rookie to come in and play right away. The quarterback position is the hardest. He played great start to finish. He showed a lot of poise and leadership.”
RISKY BUSINESS: Trailing 7-0 early in the second quarter, the Browns went for fourth-and-5 at their 41. Duke Johnson took a direct snap and was dropped for a 6-yard loss. After Wentz connected with Matthews for 28 yards to the 7, the Browns’ defense held and the Eagles settled for a 22-yard field goal and a 10-0 lead.
RISKY BUSINESS II: One play before Wentz’s TD pass to Agholor, the Eagles converted fourth-and-4 from the 40.
SLOPPY BROWNS: The Browns were driving at the Eagles 28 when Griffin’s passed was deflected by Jordan Hicks and intercepted by Rodney McLeod. … After cutting the deficit to 13-10 in the third quarter, Cameron Erving’s snap sailed over Griffin’s head and into the end zone for a safety.
STARTING FAST: The Eagles scored a TD on their first drive of a season for the first time since 2008. They didn’t have a first-drive TD until their ninth game in 2015 and didn’t even score a TD in the first quarter until Week 6.
SEEING THINGS: Sturgis missed a 46-yard field goal wide right, though the official to the left side of the post signaled that it was good before looking over at the other official.
FANTASY FACTS: Griffin was 12 of 26 for 190 yards and one interception. … Matthews had seven catches for 114 yards and one TD. … Agholor had four catches for 57 yards and one TD. … Eagles RB Ryan Mathews ran for 77 yards and a 1-yard TD. … Crowell had 62 yards rushing and one TD.
INJURY REPORT: Griffin said he sprained his left shoulder but he finished the game. … Eagles CB Leodis McKelvin (hamstring) and Browns DB Derrick Kindred (ankle) also were injured.
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