Efficient Carolina scoring drives to open each half, each ending in a 2-yard Mike Tolbert scoring play, helped the Panthers to a 27-16 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday night.
The victory moved the Panthers to 6-0 for the first time in team history. The 2003 team that reached the Super Bowl started 5-0.
The Panthers took their opening possesion 72 yards in four plays, in 2 minutes, 36 seconds, for a 7-0 lead capped by Tolbert’s 2-yard run.
Carolina went 80 yards on seven plays to open the second half, capped by Tolbert fighting his way to the end zone on a 2-yard touchdown catch. That gave the Panthers a 21-6 lead.
After Ryan Matthews ran 63 yards to answer 2:18 later, cutting Carolina’s lead to 21-13, Newton threw his third interception, and the second not of his making. A pass to Devin Funchess deflected off his hand and was intercepted by Byron Maxwell.
His 22-yard return set the Eagles up at the Carolina 18, but the Panthers defense limited the Eagles to Caleb Sturgis’ third field goal.
A 50-yard Sturgis attempt with 11:15 to play was wide left.
Graham Gano’s 35-yard field goal with 8:58 left stretched the lead back to eight, 24-16. Another Gano field goal, from 29 yards with 18 seconds to play, provided the final margin.
Panthers quarterback Cam Newton completed 14 of 24 passes for 198 yards and the touchdown to Tolbert. He was intercepted three times, two of them not his doing, and he also ran for a touchdown.
“A couple of those weren’t his fault, which is unfortunate,” Panthers coach Ron Rivera said. “He had two tipped balls that were intercepted. It’s hard to put that on him.”
Jonathan Stewart finished with 125 yards rushing on 14 carries.
The Panthers play the Indianpolis Colts on “Monday Night Football” on Nov. 2, then at home against unbeaten Green Bay on Nov. 8.
“I’m excited about the fact that we’ll be home for a little bit,” Rivera said.
Three who mattered
Ted Ginn Jr.: Ginn’s 43-yard run on a reverse set up a Panthers touchdown in the second quarter, answering a Philadelphia field goal. He also had five catches for 59 yards.
Kawann Short: Short, the NFC Defensive Player of the Week for his Week 6 performance against Seattle, had two sacks for the second time in two weeks. Short also knocked down a Sam Bradford pass and had four tackles, two for loss – in the first half alone.
Thomas Davis: Carolina’s ageless linebacker was credited with 13tackles, including a number of big hits. Hard to believe sometimes he’s 11 seasons and three ACL surgeries removed from the University of Georgia.
▪ The respect for Philadephia’s Jason Peters, a seven-time Pro Bowler in his 12th season, was evident when he was injured in the first quarter. He was carted off with lower back spasms. He did not return
▪ The stands at Bank of America Stadium were as full as they have been since the playoff game against Arizona in January. There were 74,194 tickets distributed for Sunday.
▪ After a distinct lack of it in Seattle, there was lots of Breast Cancer Awareness pink in the uniforms on the Panthers’ sideline against Philadelphia.
▪ Jared Allen had two sacks and a tipped pass in a four-play span in the final three minutes.
▪ Jonathan Stewart’s 36-yard run on the opening touchdown drive by the Panthers was the team’s first run of more than 25 yards all season.
▪ There was a quick exchange of turnovers in the first quarter. Panthers safety Colin Jones intercepted a Sam Bradford pass that went off Jordan Matthews’ back shoulder. But Ginn bobbled a Newton pass on the next play, and Nolan Carroll intercepted it at the Philadelphia 6.
▪ Josh Norman was identified by the concussion spotter after a hit on DeMarco Murray in the second quarter, but he missed only one play.
▪ Sturgis made a 52-yard field goal, with plenty to spare, to cut Carolina’s lead to 7-3 with 5:42 left in the first half. But he slipped on the kickoff and sent it out of bounds, giving the Panthers possession at the 40. A 43-yard reverse from Ginn led to a 2-yard Cam Newton touchdown run that put the Panthers up 14-3.
▪ Newton flopped on an Eagles encroachment call. It was entertaining, if ineffective.
▪ Newton’s rushing touchdown pushed him past Michael Vick into second in NFL history for rushing touchdowns by a quarterback, with 37. Steve Young holds the record, at 43.
▪ A booth review of Philly Brown’s catch (or not) late in the first half cost the Panthers a 5-yard illegal touching penalty.
▪ A potential touchdown pass to Eagles tight end Zach Ertz was knocked away by Panthers cornerback Josh Norman, forcing a Philadelphia field goal. It was the only time Norman was targeted in the first half.
▪ Some good directional punting – and sacrificing some distance – allowed Brad Nortman and the Panthers to keep Eagles return man Darren Sproles in check. Sproles, who had a touchdown return against the Panthers in 2014 and was averaging 14.7 yards per return coming in, had one return for 2 yards Sunday. Nortman punted four times for a 39-yard average.
They said it
“What’s happening right now is we’re getting some really good push. Jared and Ryan (Delaire) and Mario (Addison) are flying around the outside and forcing quarterback to step up, right into Kawann.” – Rivera, on Short’s four sacks in the past two games.
“We ask Teddy to do what he’s capable of and put him in a position to have success. For whatever reason Teddy has played really well for us, and we’re glad he’s on our team.” – Rivera, on why Ginn has been more successful with Carolina than with other franchises.