CHARLOTTE – In what was billed as a battle for early-season supremacy in the NFC, quarterback Carson Wentz completed 16-of-29 passes for 222 yards and three touchdowns to help the visiting Philadelphia Eagles defeat the Carolina Panthers, 28-23, Thursday night at Bank of America Stadium
Philadelphia, which improved to an NFC-best 5-1, converted two Cam Newton interceptions deep in Eagle territory into 15 points, turning a 10-3 second quarter deficit into an 18-10 lead early in the third quarter.
Wentz completed two touchdown passes to tight end Zach Ertz and running back LaGarrette Blount’s 2-point conversion on the second Ertz score gave Philadelphia a lead they wouldn’t relinquish the rest of the evening. The Eagles second-year signal-caller added a 24-yard scoring pass to wide receiver Nelson Agholor in the fourth quarter.
The Eagles defense, which entered the game ranked second in the NFL in rushing defense, limited the Panthers running backs Jonathan Stewart, Christian McCaffrey, and Fozzy Whittaker to just one yard on 13 carries.
Newton, who threw three interceptions on the night, was the only running game Carolina (4-2) had as he rushed for 71 yards on 11 carries and a 16-yard touchdown. The Panthers signal-caller also completed 28-of 52 passes for 239 yards and a touchdown.
Newton’s touchdown pass was a one-yard throw to McCaffrey, who caught a game-high 10 passes for 56 yards. Wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin added nine receptions for 99 yards.
Despite all their miscues, the Panthers had one last chance to pull out a victory, but turned the ball over on downs at midfield with 1:22 remaining.
“We had opportunities and unfortunately didn’t capitalize,” said Panthers head coach Ron Rivera. “You can’t kick field goals and beat good teams. I’ve said that before and I’ll say it again. You can’t kick field goals and beat good teams. You can’t turn the ball over and not take the ball away. Unfortunately, they took the ball away twice and scored points off of it. We took the ball away once and didn’t get any point out of it. To me that’s right where it is. I think we have to do a better job as coaches putting these guys into position to have success.”
The Panthers will be in action again on Sunday October 22nd when they visit the Bears at Soldier Field in Chicago.
The Eagles will host the Washington Redskins on Monday Night Football on October 23rd.
Carolina: 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 has 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.
Whittaker was carted to the locker room in the first quarter with a right ankle injury and did not return.
Philadelphia: Linebacker Jordan Hicks left the game with an ankle injury.
QUOTES TO NOTE
Linebacker David Mayo: “Some good and some bad. Some things I’ll defiently have to work on. Some schematic things too. Run defense and making checks, things like that. But I’ll learn from the tape and move on for the better.”
Tight End Ed Dickson: “We play teams like Philadelphia and it had every implication of a playoff game. We’re going to have to win these games later in the season. It was a good test for us. There is no panic for us. We’ll go back to work and work on those things. We’ll come back even hungrier and stronger. There is no die in this team.
Carolina moves to 4-7 all-time against Philadelphia, with the teams splitting the last four matchups, all coming in primetime
Quarterback Cam Newton rushed for a season-high 71 yards on 11 carries. It tied for his ninth-best rushing performance of his career.
Newton carried the ball into the end zone for his third rushing touchdown of the season. He now has 51 career rushing touchdowns since 2011. It is the second-most rushing TDs among any player (Marshawn Lynch 53) over that span.
Newton threw for 239 yards and one touchdown against three interceptions. It marked the third consecutive game that Newton has thrown a touchdown. He has accounted for all 12 Panthers touchdowns this year either throwing or rushing.
Julius Peppers recorded the 150th sack of his career and 87.5 of his time with Carolina, the franchise record. On the same play, he extended his franchise record to 30 career forced fumbles.
Peppers is second in the NFC with 6.5 sacks.
He became the first player in NFL history with 150 sacks and 10 or more interceptions.
Christian McCaffrey recorded a career-best 10 receptions for 56 yards receiving. He caught a receiving touchdown for the second consecutive game.
McCaffrey has 37 receptions for 293 yards this season. He entered the week leading all rookies in reception and receiving yards.
The Panthers recorded three sacks, all in the first half, against Philadelphia.
Julius Peppers, James Bradberry and Thomas Davis all got to Carson Wentz. Bradberry recorded the first sack of his career, while Peppers and Davis are ranked first and seventh in franchise history in sacks.
The Panthers have recorded 20 sacks this season, which is currently tied for first in the NFL with Jacksonville entering the weekend.
Kicker Graham Gano tied a season high with three field goals on three attempts in the game. His game long was from 46 yards out.