TNF: CAROLINA PANTHERS vs PHILADELPHIA EAGLES
CAROLINA PANTHERS vs PHILADELPHIA EAGLES
By: Robert L. Porter Jr.
Its Thursday night football again and Charlotte, NC is the stage for two 4-1 teams to battle it out for the overall NFC lead. Cam Newton and Carson Wentz come into tonights game as 2 of the NFL’s early MVP candidates and they both have stout defenses at their disposal. This should be an early season heavyweight bout.
Carson Wentz and the Eagles came out looking sharp but a sack fumble by Julius Peppers spelled the end of the Eagles first drive. The Philly defense forced a 3 & out so the turnover didn’t hurt them. The 2nd Eagles possession looked a lot like the 1st prior to the fumble but a 3rd down stop forces a 50 yard field goal by Jake Elliott making it 3-0 Philadelphia. The Panthers 2nd drive looked a lot more smooth as they were able to get some rhythm but ultimately was stopped and forced to take a Graham Gano 39 yard kick. We’re all tied up 3-3. The Panthers are bringing heat off the right side of the Eagles offensive line, more pressure on Wentz forced a punt giving the ball back the Carolina. A run by Johnathan Stewart for a 6 yard loss was the final play of the 1st period.
Two Kelvin Benjamin catches wasn’t enough for a first down. The Carolina punt was muffed by Kenjon Barner but was recovered by Patrick Robinson of the Eagles to maintain possession. A quick 3 & out capped by a Thomas Davis sack forced a Philly punt and Christian McCaffery returned it to the Eagles 43. The Panthers haven’t been able to get much of a running game going vs this Eagles front but Cam Newton and Kelvin Benjamin look to have the connection going early. After a couple Newton passes, a read option play saw the left side of the field open up and Cam scampered in from 16 yards out to give the home team a 10-3 lead.
The Next Eagles possession belonged to the Carolina defense as they have made it clear that the plan is to keep Carson Wentz under duress. More Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis pressure found McCaffery fielding another Eagles punt. Deep in their own territory, Fletcher Cox got a hand on a Newton pass that was up for grabs and intercepted by rookie Rasul Douglas, the Eagles are set up at The Panther 12 yard line. 3 runs by LeGarrette Blount left the Eagles a yard short on 4th down but a Wentz QB keeper got the first down at the 2 . Wentz finds Zach Ertz in the back of the end zone to even us all up at 10. Carolina got the ball back with 2:27 left and a back and forth tussel ended with nothing giving as we head to the half knotted up at 10.
To open the 3rd quarter Johnathan Stewart dropped a Newton pass right into the hands of Patrick Robinson for the interception. Carson Wentz waste no time finding Ertz for his 2nd TD of the game, Philly takes the lead 16-10. Philly decides to go for 2, Blount punches it in for the 18-10 lead. The Panthers come out and still can’t get a running game going but a long pass interference puts Carolina in scoring position. Unable to punch it in, they settle for another Gano field goal making it 18-13. The Eagles start the next drive with a good run by Blount and keeps the pressure on this Panthers defense minus Kuechly (concussion protocol). The drive would end with another Elliott kick making it 21-13 Eagles.
Another quick 3 & out for Carolina gives the ball back to the Eagles. More Carolina Blitzes get them the ball back via punt as the pace has begun to slow down. A good Cam run and a crossing route by Benjamin set up another Gano field goal, 21-16 Eagles. Some Fancy footwork by Wentz kept some plays alive and he made a couple big passes off of that. The 3rd quarter ends on a 1 yard Nelson Agholor catch.
To open the 4th quarter Wentz finds Agholor again from 24 yards out for the TD and makes it 28-16 Philadelphia. Down 12 points, Carolina worked the field and aided by a roughing the passer penalty they are able to cut the lead down to 5 points after an acrobatic play by Newton gets them to the 1 yard line. The following play was a 1 yard TD pass to McCaffery making it 28-23 Eagles. A fast 3 & out has the Eagles lined up to punt with 6 minutes remaining. A drive by Cam Newton looked to be promising after a 4th down conversation but a Eagles blitz forced a high throw that was intercepted by Jalen Mills, Philly takes over with 3:06 remaining. They are only able to run off 1:10 and had to punt it back to Carolina.
Newton has 2:03 to go win this game. The first play was a 12 yard in to Benjamin as we reach the 2 minute warning. A questionable 3rd & 1 pass followed by a pass that was too short for McCaffery basically brings an end to the Panthers rally and to the game. Wentz comes out, takes a few Knees and head back to Philadelphia with a 5-1 record.
This game wasn’t as close as the 5 points suggest, Philadelphia had over 100 yards in penalties and that allowed Carolina to hang around in this one. The Eagles look to be a team on a mission with an explosive offense and a ferocious defense they will be a tough team to beat going forward.
STARS OF THE GAME
Carson Wentz – 16/30 222 yards 3 TDs
Zach Ertz – 2 rec 18 yards 2 TDs
Cam Newton – 310 total yards 2 TDs 3 INTs
Christian McCaffery – 10 rec 56 yards 1 TDs
Nelson Agholor – 4 rec 55 yards 1 TD
Kelvin Benjamin – 9 rec 99 yards
EAGLES 28 – PANTHERS 23