The Panthers couldn’t complete their comeback Thursday night as they fell to the Philadelphia Eagles at home. The Panthers fall to 4-2 as the Eagles rise to 5-1.
After being near perfect the past few games, quarterback Cam Newton was brought back to reality as the Eagles defense was able to contain the former MVP. Newton finished with 239 passing yards, one touchdown, and three interceptions. That equaled to a quarterback rating of 48.5. Two of those interceptions came inside the Panthers own 20, as and weren’t Newton’s fault. Eagles defensive tackle, Fletcher Cox got pressure on Newton as he released his pass and was intercepted by former West Virginia Mountaineer standout Rasul Douglas. The second interception was due to a bobbled catch from running back Jonathan Stewart and Eagles cornerback Patrick Robinson made the play. The Panthers clearly wanted to center their offense around Cam and rookie Christian McCaffrey, as early in the game they targeted the first round pick, but the Eagles defense made it so he had no room to make any big plays.
The running game continues to be a major concern for Carolina, as they finished with only 80 yards rushing. 71 of those yards and the only rushing touchdown was from Cam Newton. Starting running back, Jonathan Stewart, finished with eight carries for -4 yards. Rookie Christian McCaffrey finished with just eight yards on four carries. The Panthers offensive line will need to improve if they want a shot at winning the NFC South. Despite a decent game from Kelvin Benjamin, who finished with nine catches for 99 yards, no one else in the receiving core had big numbers. The only touchdown was from McCaffrey in the redzone.
Defensively, you can’t fault the Panthers. Coming into the game, the Eagles had the 3rd ranked offense and last night proved why. Future Hall of Famer, Julius Peppers, recorded his 150th career sack, which puts him amongst the all-time greats. The biggest news though was the loss of star middle linebacker, Luke Kuechly. Kuechly left the game late in the second quarter after being on the wrong side of a block and was ruled out with a concussion. This is his third concussion in three years.
Carson Wentz and the Eagles remain hot, and come out of this game now 5-1. Wentz has become a legitimate MVP candidate and has really clicked with his receiving core. Despite not having Lane Johnson due to injury, the offensive line protected Wentz fairly well. Wentz finished with 222 passing yards and three touchdowns, two of them to tight end Zach Ertz who leads the league in catches. The Wentz to Ertz combo has been the most exciting and proficient duo in the NFL this season. Nelson Agholor has finally emerged as a real threat for this offense and is living up to this high draft grade. Along with the vets Alshon Jeffery, Torrey Smith, and LaGarrette Blount, this offense will continue to be a force in the NFC. Their confidence is at a high, and was seen in the third quarter when coach Doug Peterson decided to go for the two-point conversion and they got it with a Blount run.
The Eagles defense is beginning to become recognized throughout the league as they shut down this Panthers’ offense. Their strong front eight has really helped put pressure on opposing quarterbacks, and their young secondary has stepped up and showed real promise for the future.
Up next for the Panthers is a visit to Chicago on October 22nd to play the Bears, as the Eagles will host the Washington Redskins on Monday Night Football on October 23.