Cam Newton speaks to reporters after the Panthers' 21-17 win over the Philadelphia Eagles.
The Carolina Panthers (3-2) traveled to Philly this week for a match-up against the Philadelphia Eagles (3-3) that would both solidify their identity and give them their first road win of the season. It would also be the biggest test of Norv Turner's offensive system this year.
PANTHERS KEYS TO THE GAME:
- Limit offensive turnovers / protect the football
- Dominate the red zone on defense
- Defend the middle of the field, force the Eagles into 3rd and long situations
The Cats were able to accomplish most of the factors that were initially touted as being key factors for a win against the reigning Super Bowl Champs.
The Panthers defense held up well in the first quarter. After converting on fourth down, twice, in the same series, the Eagles looked like the Super Bowl Champs headed for an easy score. But the Panthers pass rush forced the Eagles to end their 15 play drive with a missed 36 yard field goal attempt by Jake Elliott. But by the second quarter, however, the Panthers were back to their usual first half sluggishness. The Eagles mounted a 7-play 74 yard drive ignited by a 20 yard catch and run by Alshon Jeffery to move the Eagles just outside the ten yard line. The drive was capped by an 11 yard Carson Wentz completion to Jeffery to give the eagles the first lead of the game at 7-0. Wentz went into the half having completed 15 of 18 passes for 208 yards and 1 TD (30/37 for 310, 2 TD on the day).
The Eagles defense frustrated Cam Newton early, garnered two sacks and stopped all of the Panthers’ third down conversions in the first half but resulted in zero turnovers. For the second straight week, DJ Moore struggled to reel in passes. Even Graham Gano, who kicked the 63 yard game-winner against the Giants earlier this season, struggled with a 49 yard field goal attempt due to the windy conditions at Lincoln Financial Field. The Panthers were held scoreless in the first half for the first time since the 2016 season.
The chunk plays Ron Rivera mentioned on Wednesday that would be necessary for a Panthers win began to surface in the second half – the fourth quarter to be exact. The Panthers put together an 11-play 80 yard drive that culminated in a 14 yard touchdown run on a reverse by Curtis Samuel to give Carolina their first score of the game. The Panthers trailed 17-6 after the missed extra point attempt by Graham Gano.
Late in the fourth quarter, Cam Newton connected with Jarius Wright on a deep 28 yard pass up the middle followed by an 18 yard strike to Devin Funchess in the corner of the end zone. The 7-play 87 yard drive allowed the Panthers to score on back-to-back drives and get to within 3 of the Eagles with less than 5 minutes left in regulation.
With 2:28 left on the clock, James Bradberry made a crucial block of a Wentz pass meant for Alshon Jeffrey forcing the Eagles to punt. During the ensuing drive, Philly forced the Panthers into a fourth and ten situation with 2:06 left but former eagle receiver Torrey Smith provided a perfect bail out for Newton. Smith’s 35 yard catch and run first down proved to be the most pivotal play of the day. And later, a Christian McCaffrey catch and run moved the Panthers down to the five yard line. The go-ahead score came with 1:22 left from a 1 yard Cam Newton completion to Greg Olsen to give the Panthers the 21-17 lead.
A huge stop by the Carolina defense on the final possession for Philadelphia proved to be priceless. With 31 seconds left in regulation, fourth and 2 at the 14 yard line, the Panthers defense held up one of the most important keys to the game – red zone defense. Carson Wentz was sacked by Julius Peppers. The fumble was recovered by Carolina as the Panthers scratched out the 21-17 win giving them their first road win of the season improving to 4-2.
Despite the Eagles completing 81 percent of their passes vs. the Panthers 64 percent, Carolina managed 250 yards passing combined with 121 yards rushing. Devin Funchess led all Panthers receivers with 6 receptions for 61 yards.
The Panthers have been known for exciting endings to games but this win ranks as one of the highest on the meter due to the team scoring all 21 points in the fourth quarter to beat the defending Super Bowl Champions which also happened to be the biggest comeback in franchise history.
"I told myself, just preparing all week, that if we ever get in that positions again I very well better hold up my end of the bargain," said Cam Newton after the game. "There's a lot of people depending on me to put this team in the best situation."
- Cam Newton - showed amazing poise with a phenomenal fourth quarter performance. Newton finished 25 of 39 for 269 yards and ran for 49 yards.
- The Offense – is able to handle the toughest challenges needed to go deep into the playoffs. And as Cam Newton stated earlier in the week, “We are fine!”
- Luke Kuechly – is still king of the Carolina defense. Kuechly led Carolina with 14 tackles, 1 Sack, 4 TFL (12 Solo).
Cam Newton speaks to reporters about not being in panic mode regarding team's performance.
The Panthers return home to host the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday October 28th at Bank of America Stadium.
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