Carson Wentz, Eagles soar to new heights with emphatic win over Cardinals

PHILADELPHIA -- Quarterback Carson Wentz had the best day of his young career, and the Philadelphia Eagles sent a message to the league with a dominant 34-7 victory over the Arizona Cardinals.

Wentz (21-of-30, 304 yards, 4 TDs, INT) established a personal best with four touchdown passes -- three of which came on consecutive pass attempts in the first quarter. He is the first quarterback with a touchdown pass on three consecutive attempts since Ben Roethlisberger did it Week 4 of 2016, per the Elias Sports Bureau, and is the first quarterback in Eagles history to throw three touchdown passes in the first quarter of a game.

The breakout was somewhat expected internally. Earlier in the week, a team insider told ESPN that Wentz's outing against the Los Angeles Chargers was being viewed as his best as a pro even though he finished with an average completion rate and one touchdown. They saw a signal-caller who was maturing in his decision-making and command. The statistical fruits of that growth came at the Cardinals' expense.

It was a statement win for the now 4-1 Eagles against a team that typically gives them fits -- or Fitz. Larry Fitzgerald entered this game averaging six catches, 99 yards and more than a touchdown in seven regular-season games against Philly, and Arizona had claimed five of the past six matchups. Fitzgerald was limited to four catches for 31 yards this time around, however, and the Eagles dominated in all three phases to drop the Cardinals to 2-3.

In the process, they raised expectations about what this season might hold. The hope was the second year for both Wentz and coach Doug Pederson would be one of progress, but the general consensus was they were still a year away from being contenders. They've opened some eyes over the first five games. And with the division looking less dangerous than forecast -- the Eagles were the only NFC East squad with a winning record entering Week 5 -- the path might not be as treacherous.

The Eagles won their second straight game without standout defensive tackle Fletcher Cox (calf). The front four still managed to harass Carson Palmer, while a thin cornerback group kept the clamps on Arizona's speedy receivers for most of the day. The offensive line, meanwhile, carried on in the second half without right tackle Lane Johnson, who suffered a head injury that puts his status in doubt for Thursday at the Carolina Panthers.

While all areas of the team have contributed, including special teams (a 76-yard Kenjon Barner punt return and a field goal block factored into the win Sunday), quarterback play is an X factor in any season, and Wentz is playing at a high level. Now 21 games into his career, the second-year player out of North Dakota State is showing positive signs he can develop into an elite quarterback. Never have those signs been more evident than Sunday against Arizona.