CHARLOTTE – The Philadelphia Eagles used 15 second-half points to complete a 4th-Quarter comeback on the Carolina Panthers, as the team from the city of brotherly love prevailed with a 21-18 victory at Bank of America Stadium.
Jalen Hurts’ six-yard touchdown run with 2:38 to play in the fourth gave the Eagles their first-and-only lead of the game, as Carolina continued to have struggles after halftime.
“We have to play better football. That wasn’t good enough football right there,” Panthers coach Matt Rhule said of the team’s second defeat to an NFC East team. “We came in knowing that we had to limit the deep balls, we had
to protect their guys up front, we were going to have to win third down on offense and hold them to field goals in the red zone. Even at the end we had a chance to hold them to a field goal. We’ve just got to be better.”
The Panthers managed a lone field goal in the fourth quarter as the team failed to capitalize on multiple opportunities earned by the defense. Carolina failed to recover a botched Philadelphia snap in the red zone, resulting in a safety instead of a touchdown. The home team’s defense also forced turnovers on back-to-back possessions with the play of Donte Jackson, but failed to score off of either Philadelphia miscue.
Jackson punched the ball out from rookie Devonta Smith’s hands, with Jeremy Chinn recovering the fumble and scampering to midfield. The Panthers failed to score on that drive, and also on their ensuing possession created by an interception from Jackson. Carolina quarterback Sam Darnold gave the ball right back to the Eagles, throwing his second pick to the Eagles’ Darius Slay.
Pressure on Darnold and uneven quarterback play ruled the day for the Panthers, as Darnold suffered eight QB hits and three sacks from Philadelphia’s interior pressure. Darnold threw three interceptions on the day largely due to that pressure, but shouldered some of the blame himself.
“I felt like some of those I was holding on to the ball too long. I think that can also lead to pressure,” Darnold said. “There are a bunch of things that kind of go into it and I have to watch the tape to really tell you the truth on some of those.”
Philadelphia drove 80 yards to close the third quarter to get within two points on a drive punctuated by a Hurts one-yard touchdown run.
After the Panthers added a Zane Gonzalez 50-yard field goal and the teams traded a possession each, TJ Edwards came up the middle and blocked a Joseph Charlton punt to set the Eagles up deep in plus territory for the winning score.
“They ran a pick stunt. Came in and blocked one. The other guy came around J.J. (Jansen). He came free and blocked it,” Rhule said. “We practice that a lot. We have to make those blocks. We didn’t make those blocks. They made the play.”
Following the Hurts touchdown and a two-point conversion, Darnold threw his third pick on an errant throw to Robby Anderson, who looked visibly frustrated on the Panthers sideline. Anderson’s slow start has been a point of contention, after the receiver signed a two-year $29.5 million contract extension this offseason.
Darnold said the responsibility to right the ship falls on him.
“It’s always frustrating when you have a lead at halftime and things are kind of going well and at least offensively, we couldn’t get anything going, couldn’t find a rhythm, it’s always going to be frustrating,” Darnold said.
Chuba Hubbard’s play served as one of the few bright spots for the Panthers, as he started in place of Christian McCaffrey for the second straight game. Hubbard passed the century mark in rushing for the first time as a pro with a 101-yard day on the ground. The rookie from Oklahoma State said the team’s play this week is not indicative of its potential.
“We’ll be back,” Hubbard said.
The Panthers (3-2) play their second straight home game next Sunday when they host the Minnesota Vikings (2-3).