I’ll take the W, any W… but this one was special for a number of reasons, and not all of them were good.
The Birds had Cam Newton on the ropes near the end but somehow let him back into the center of the ring, and he was one knock-out punch away from winning the fight with about 2 minutes left in the final round.
We’ve got to do a better job of sealing the deal when we are on offense with 3 minutes to go and holding the lead.
It was also special that the Eagles held on to win despite some of the worst officiating I have seen since…well, the Detroit game last season. Coincidentally, it was the same Pete Morelli crew working this game in Charlotte. We got penalized 126 yards on some of the most ticky-tack calls ever made. You wouldn’t mind that so much as long as the calls were going the other way in equal proportion. They did not.
At least the Eagles defensive front line was special—so special that it held the Panthers’ running backs attack to a net 1-yards on 13 carries… the only other positive running yards were made by Cam Newton himself. That kind of effort forced Cam into becoming one-dimensional— he had to air the ball out over 50 times. Three of those attempts turned into fatal interceptions.
The Eagles defensive front got significant and persistent pressure on Cam by rushing only four guys, too—which meant that everyone else on defense could drop in coverage and further frustrate Cam’s passing game.
DC Jim Schwartz didn’t blitz Cam much, because he didn’t need to, thanks to his stout DL rotation. In the end, it was a normal rush and Cam’s misread of safety coverage which caused the ultimate demise of the Panthers with a 4-and-out (no timeouts left) sequence with Carolina driving into Eagles territory with 1:16 left in the game.
I thought the Eagles offensive play coordination prior to that final drive by Cam could have been a lot smarter in preventing the last-chance comeback scenario for Cam and the Panthers. But I won’t quibble over a win. Let’s just say I’m glad it was Cam Newton and not Aaron Rodgers in that situation at the end—and if Cam hadn’t been so banged up and possibly dizzy at that point of the game, who knows?
Anyway, in a grim Civil War-type firefight, the Eagles prevailed in Charlotte.
Perhaps the best news of the night: Eagles defensive tackle Fletcher Cox returned after missing the previous two games with a calf injury and made his presence felt. He bulldozed through guard Trai Turner to hit Panthers QB Cam Newton midthrow and force a first-half interception that led to six points. Cox finished with two quarterback hits and a half-sack.
The Eagles turned two interceptions deep in Carolina territory into 15 points, with touchdown passes to Zach Ertz, and LaGarrette Blount’s 2-point conversion to take an 18-10 lead in the third quarter. Wentz added a 24-yard scoring pass to Nelson Agholor in the fourth quarter.
Cam Newton threw three interceptions for Carolina (4-2).
The first two interceptions came inside Carolina’s 20, but weren’t Newton’s fault. He was hit byFletcher Cox as he released one pass, and running back Jonathan Stewart bobbled another pass resulting in a pick. Newton’s third interception — by Jalen Mills with 3:06 left — ended a chance for the go-ahead score.
Carolina had one last shot to win, but turned it over on downs at midfield.
Panthers middle linebacker Luke Kuechly was placed into the concussion protocol after his body crumpled following a collision with Eagles pulling guard Brandon Brooks. Kuechly missed nine games over the past two seasons with two concussions. All of the Eagles’ touchdowns came after Kuechly left the game late in the second quarter.
Newton gave the Panthers a 10-3 lead on his 51st career touchdown rushing in the second quarter. He kept the ball on a read option and juked cornerback Rasul Douglas on the 16-yard run.
Douglas got revenge on Carolina’s next possession, intercepting Newton’s pass after Cox crashed into Newton as he was throwing, causing the ball to float high into the air.
If it hadn’t been for Newton , the Panthers would not have had any running game to speak of against the Eagles. Newton ran for 71 yards and the touchdown, but running backs Jonathan Stewart, Christian McCaffrey and Fozzy Whittaker were limited to 1 yard on 13 carries.
Panthers: Aside from Kuechly’s injury, Whittaker was carted to the locker room in the first quarter with a right ankle injury and did not return.
UP NEXT: Eagles: Host the Washington Redskins on “Monday Night Football” on Oct. 23.
Jake Elliott 50 Yd Field Goal
11 plays, 53 yards, 5:18
Graham Gano 39 Yd Field Goal
9 plays, 54 yards, 4:40
Cam Newton 16 Yd Run (Graham Gano Kick)
4 plays, 43 yards, 1:59
Zach Ertz 1 Yd pass from Carson Wentz (Jake Elliott Kick)
7 plays, 12 yards, 3:54
Zach Ertz 17 Yd pass from Carson Wentz (LeGarrette Blount Run for Two-Point Conversion)
2 plays, 17 yards, 0:08
Graham Gano 20 Yd Field Goal
7 plays, 63 yards, 2:40
Jake Elliott 48 Yd Field Goal
7 plays, 45 yards, 3:17
Graham Gano 46 Yd Field Goal
7 plays, 37 yards, 2:42
Nelson Agholor 24 Yd pass from Carson Wentz (Jake Elliott Kick)
6 plays, 75 yards, 3:28
Christian McCaffrey 1 Yd pass from Cam Newton (Graham Gano Kick)
13 plays, 75 yards, 6:51
|Passing 1st downs||11||12|
|Rushing 1st downs||4||7|
|1st downs from penalties||0||4|
|3rd down efficiency||5-14||4-16|
|4th down efficiency||1-1||1-3|
|Yards per Play||5.2||3.9|
|Yards per pass||6.3||4.2|
|Yards per rush||3.7||3.2|
|Red Zone (Made-Att)||2-2||2-3|
|Defensive / Special Teams TDs||0||0|