Posted on October 13, 2017, by Travis Pulver
When it comes to primetime games, NFL fans want to see good teams play. They want to see stars play like stars and for role players to emerge and play like stars. Basically—they want to be entertained. Those that tuned in to the Philadelphia Eagles-Carolina Panthers game on Thursday Night Football were certainly entertained.
Well, Carolina fans may not have found it as entertaining as most, but Eagles fans had to love how the game played out.
Heading into the game both teams were tied for the best record in the NFC (along with the Green Bay Packers; 4-1). A win would put them on top of the mountain for the time being. It could also end up being an essential tie-breaker down the line. So, while it is only Week Six, there was something worth playing for on the line.
Both teams were going to attempt to win in a similar fashion—lean on their quarterback to make plays for the offense and hope their defense can dominate the other team. During the first half, it was hard to see who was going to make the game plan work better.
Philadelphia was able to move the ball early on. But once the Panthers defense got dialed in, they were able to shut Carson Wentz down. Cam Newton struggled to get the offense on track as well. It didn’t help that the Eagles front four was putting a lot of pressure on him.
But early in the second quarter, a nice punt return by Christian McCaffrey set the Panthers up with a short field. Four plays and 43 yards later, Cam Newton trotted into the end zone for the first touchdown of the game (and a 10-3 Panthers lead).
It was looking good for the Panthers, but then Newton made the first of three costly mistakes. Late in the quarter, he threw his first of three interceptions and set the Eagles up on the 12-yard line. It took Philadelphia seven plays to cover the distance. But Carson Wentz eventually connected with Zach Ertz from one-yard out to tie the game at 10-10 before the end of the half.
Mistake No. 2 (another interception) for Newton came on the opening drive of the second half. It set the Eagles up with fantastic field position once again (17-yard line). This time it only took two plays, another pass from Wentz to Ertz, to cover the distance and give the Eagles an 18-10 lead (following the two-point conversion).
Newton kept the Panthers in the game. But when he got the ball back with 5:45 to go and down 28-23 he was running out of time. But then he made mistake No. 3—another interception. The defense did its best to help and forced the Eagles to punt. But on the next drive, Newton was not able to connect with Christian McCaffrey on fourth and one. The turnover on downs effectively ended the game for Carolina.
Final score—Eagles 28 and the Panthers 23.
Carson Wentz appears to be coming into his own this season. He was hit eight times and sacked three. But he was eventually able to figure out the Panthers blitz game and keep the offense moving. Zach Ertz was impressed with his quarterback’s resiliency under such intense pressure (ESPN):
“You want to look at a game and talk about character? That freakin’ showed it right there. I mean, the guy is getting smacked early and often in the beginning of the game. He never wavered, his confidence never wavered, his composure never wavered. I think that just speaks volumes about how we feel about him and how he feels about us.”
The win is Philadelphia’s third road victory of the season. It improves them to 5-1 ahead of the first of three consecutive home games. They will face the Washington Redskins next on Monday Night Football.
Carolina will face the Bears in Chicago next week in the first of two consecutive road games.