The Eagles secured a thrilling 28-23 victory against the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium. The Thursday night battle would come down to the Panthers’ final possession with just over a minute to go, but the defense made a stop on fourth-and-1, allowing the offense to end the game in the victory formation.
Quarterback Carson Wentz earned his second consecutive game with three touchdowns or more, finishing the night 16-of-30 for 222 yards and three touchdowns for a 110.7 passer rating. LeGarrette Blount ran for 67 yards on 14 carries. Alshon Jeffery led the team with four receptions for 71 yards. Zach Ertz picked up his second career game with two touchdowns and slot receiver Nelson Agholor picked up his fourth touchdown of the season.
The defense came up with a season-high three interceptions thanks to cornerbacks Rasul Douglas, Patrick Robinson, and Jalen Mills. Fletcher Cox made his return known, forcing one of the interceptions and plenty of quarterback hurries on Newton. With the win, the Eagles improve to 5-1 on the season and 4-0 in the conference.
“It took everybody. It took all 47 guys. Tonight all three phases had a hand in it,” head coach Doug Pederson said. “We had to battle. It wasn’t pretty at times and credit them. That’s a fine football team. The guys just hung in there and did an outstanding job tonight and just found a way.”
On the game’s opening drive, Wentz was stripped by defensive end Julius Peppers, who beat right takle Halapoulivaati Vaitai. The ball was recovered at the Carolina 48 by Panthers defensive tackle Kawann Short.
Still, the Eagles would strike first as Jake Elliott boomed home a 50-yard field goal to put the Eagles up 3-0 with seven minutes remaining in the first. Later, cornerback Jalen Mills was called for pass interference on Panthers’ receiver Curtis Samuel. The play drew 21 yards and placed the Panthers at the Philadelphia 40.
The Panthers took advantage and kicker Graham Gano connected on a 39-yard field goal to even the score up at 3-3. Early in the second quarter, the Panthers took a 10-3 lead after Newton rushed up the middle, beating a few Eagles for a 16-yard touchdown.
The defense responded later in the quarter when the rookie Douglas picked off Newton at the Carolina 19 and returned it to the 12-yard line. It was Cox who tipped the ball that led to the deflected pass.
The Eagles capitalized on the turnover and Ertz came through on a 1-yard touchdown score delivered by Wentz on third-and-goal. The score evened up the score at 10-10 with just over two minutes to go in the half.
With under a minute to go, Cox and defensive end Brandon Graham teamed up to sack Newton and take the Panthers out of field goal range before the half.
On the Panthers’ opening drive of the second half, Jonathan Stewart bobbled a wide-open pass from Newton that landed into the diving arms of Robinson for an interception. The play gave the Eagles the ball at the Carolina 17. The offense would once again capitalize on the giveaway and Wentz hit Ertz for a 17-yard touchdown up the middle. On the extra point, the Panthers were called for an illegal formation penalty and head coach Doug Pederson elected to go for the two-point conversion. Blount piled his way into the end zone to give the Eagles an 18-10 lead.
On second-and-10 at the Carolina 35, Mills was called for pass interference for the second time of the night. Samuel drew the call again for a 40-yard pickup that placed the Panthers at the Philadelphia 25.
The teams went back and forth on field goals to end the third. Gano connected on a 20-yard field goal to shrink the gap to 18-13. On the Eagles’ next drive, Elliott nailed a 48-yarder. Gano knocked in another field goal from 48 yards out to narrow the gap again to 21-16 heading into the final quarter.
The Eagles struck quickly in the fourth. Wentz found a zipping Agholor for a 24-yard touchdown to give the Eagles a two-possession lead at 28-16. The Panthers responded on their next drive when Newton connected on a short touchdown pass to running back Christian McCaffrey to narrow the lead again at 28-23.
Later in the fourth, rookie defensive end Derek Barnett came up with his first career half-sack when he teamed with defensive tackle Justin Hamilton to take down Newton to set up a third-and-17. The Panthers got a first down but Mills would redeem himself from his two pass interference calls earlier in the game by coming up a big interception late.
The Panthers had one last shot, but the Eagles’ defense got the stop by forcing an incomplete pass to McCaffrey on fourth-and-1 to seal the win.
“It’s a tremendous testament to the players in that locker room,” Pederson said of the win. “I told them tonight after the game that I haven’t been a part of a team that has battled through so much injury and adversity in the first month, month and a half of the season to stay together.
“The resiliency of the football team started to show at the end of last year. They’re learning from last year. They’re learning how to finish games and the overall consistency from the leaders on this football team; they’re learning how to sacrifice for each other, themselves, for the team. It’s a fun thing to watch.”
The Eagles get a mini-bye and will return home Week 7 to take on Washington.
Carson Wentz: 16-29, 222 yards, 3 TD, FUM
Cam Newton: 28-52, 183 yards, 2 TD, 3 INT
Zach Ertz: 2 catches, 18 yards, 2 TD
Alshon Jeffery: 4 catches, 71 yards
Christian McCaffrey: 10 catches, 56 yards, TD
Kelvin Benjamin: 9 catches, 99 yards
LeGarrette Blount: 12 carries, 64 yards
Newton: 11 carries, 71 yards