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Carson Wentz shines in Eagles' victory over Redskins

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The Philadelphia Eagles maintained the NFL's best record (6-1), riding four Carson Wentz touchdown passes to a 34-24 victory over the Washington Redskins (3-3) in Week 7. Here's what we learned in Monday night's action:

1. Courtesy of back-to-back scintillating performances on national television, Wentz has announced his arrival as a leading MVP candidate. Featuring dual-threat traits that conjure up images of a young Brett Favre or Ben Roethlisberger, Wentz has been an improvisational wizard boasting prototypical size, elite arm talent and unteachable pocket toughness.

After completing just one pass in the first quarter, Wentz bent the game to his will thereafter, tossing three touchdown passes in less than nine minutes of game time to close out the first half and open the second. He unleashed a gorgeous 64-yard scoring bomb to Mack Hollins, showcased enviable touch and accuracy with an in-stride 46-yard rainbow to Zach Ertz and played peek-a-boo in a crowd of Redskins pass rushers to find Corey Clement for an unlikely 9-yard touchdown. To cap off his personal highlight reel, Wentz answered an impressive Kirk Cousins drive with an incredible sequence that featured a Houdini-like escape and scramble, a perfect sideline fade pass to Alshon Jeffery and a read-option scoring strike to Nelson Agholor.

"Very upset" that a division rival landed a franchise cornerstone in last year's draft, Redskins coach Jay Gruden recently marveled that Wentz has progressed as quickly as any quarterback he's ever seen. The numbers agree. The NFL's leader in touchdown passes already has more in seven games this season (17) than he managed his entire rookie season. After failing to record a three-touchdown game last year, he's now pulled off the hat-trick in three consecutive weeks -- a feat unmatched by any Eagles quarterback since Bobby Thomason more than 60 years ago.

As coach Doug Pederson pointed out last week, Wentz is "on track to be a special, special quarterback." It's easy to see why one opposing NFL head coach hailed Wentz as the gridiron messiah capable of ending the Eagles' six-decade championship drought.

2. As Philly fans flock to talk radio to unfurl those Super Bowl predictions, they should consider the nature of Monday night's possibly pyrrhic victory. Nine-time Pro Bowl left tackle Jason Peters was fitted for an air cast and carted off the field with a knee injury, leaving Wentz's blind side in peril perhaps for as long as the rest of the season. That heartbreak came two quarters after the Eagles lost middle linebacker Jordan Hicks to an ankle injury. Peters and Hicks are two of the team's 10 most valuable players.

"The bullseye on our back becomes bigger," Pederson said after the game about the road ahead. "It just becomes a challenge every week. That's a tribute to the guys in the locker room."

3. Overseeing a one-dimensional offense with linemen dropping like flies, Wentz's counterpart across the field deserved a better fate. Cousins' ball placement was on-point throughout the game, leading to a series of big plays to tight ends Vernon Davis and Jordan Reed. It's easy to see why left tackle Trent Williams recently warned Cousins to be careful with his "$200 million" shoulder. Since a disappointing performance in the season opener, Cousins has been one of the league's most efficient passers. Considering the precious little help he's received from his wideouts, a limited Reed and an inconsistent ground attack, Cousins remains in line for a monstrous pay day in 2018.

4. Even with the return of second-year power back Rob Kelley, the Redskins showed scant confidence in their running game, particularly in short-yardage situations. On the way back to the drawing board, the coaching staff should tip its proverbial cap to an Eagles defense that has held five consecutive opponents to 80 or fewer rushing yards for the first time since the star-studded 1992 outfit terrorized opponents.

5. Replaced in the starting lineup by Josh Doctson, Redskins big-ticket free-agent acquisition Terrelle Pryor spent the bulk of the first three quarters on the sideline. After functioning as Cousins' No. 1 receiver in the first five games, Pryor didn't see his first target until five minutes into the fourth quarter. As promising as Doctson might be in his own right, the enigmatic Pryor is too talented to be left out of the picture going forward.

6. As a counterbalance to Pryor's disappearing act, Reed brought a silver lining to Washington's aerial attack. Dogged by toe, shoulder and chest injuries throughout the first six weeks, Reed finally flashed glimpses of his 2016 Pro Bowl form en route to a pair of touchdowns. He should enter next week's matchup with the Cowboys as healthy as he's been all season.

7. Perhaps the NFL's most uncannily effective screen-pass specialist since Pierre Thomas, elusive Redskins scatback Chris Thompson has been one of the most valuable receiving threats in the league. The improbable fulcrum of Cousins' passing attack is on pace for a staggering 976 receiving yards and 13 touchdowns from scrimmage.

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