Instant Observations: Panthers 30, Eagles 22

Here are my instant observations from the Eagles’ 30-22 loss to the Panthers.

OFFENSE

* Bryce Brown was the story all night for the Eagles. He carried 19 times for 178 yards, an Eagles rookie record. In quite possibly the team’s most impressive play of the season, Brown got around the right edge and pushed it into a special gear, racing past Panthers defenders for a 65-yard touchdown in the first quarter. Later, he got around the right edge again for a 5-yard touchdown.

* There was an issue with ball security, however, as Brown fumbled twice – both in the third quarter. He also got stuffed on a fourth-and-inches run in the fourth.

* Nick Foles was up-and-down, going 16-for-21 for 119 yards, no touchdowns and no interceptions. The Eagles got a gift in the third on a 51-yard pass interference call against the Panthers. Foles was looking deep for Jeremy Maclin, but the ball didn’t have much of a chance to be completed.

* The Eagles put together a nice nine-play, 62-yard drive to open the game. Nick Foles connected on throws to DeSean Jackson, Maclin and Brent Celek. But once the Eagles got to the red zone, Foles was nearly picked off – twice.

* Jackson left the game in the first quarter with a sternum injury. X-Rays were negative. He did not return.

* On the second drive, King Dunlap got beaten badly by Greg Hardy, who sacked Foles. Dunlap left the game briefly in the second half and was replaced by Demetress Bell.

DEFENSE

* Cam Newton completed 18 of 28 passes for 306 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. He averaged 10.9 yards per attempt, hitting on big play after big play to wide-open wide receivers.

* The Eagles allowed an eight-play, 72-yard drive to start the game. Newton hit a wide-open Gary Barnidge for a 24-yard touchdown. DeMeco Ryans initially covered Barnidge, but then looked like he was expecting help.

* On the Panthers’ second drive, Newton hit Brandon LaFell for a 43-yard score. The Eagles blitzed Brandon Boykin on the play, and LaFell was wide-open. It looked like Nate Allen might have been out of position on the play.

* In a play that looked similar to last week, Newton hit Louis Murphy for a 55-yard completion, even though the Eagles had two defensive backs – Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Kurt Coleman – in the vicinity. Last week, Santana Moss caught a 61-yarder in between Coleman and Boykin. The Panthers went on to score on the drive, courtesy of a Newton 1-yard run.

* Trent Cole had an active game with a couple tackles for loss and a QB hit.

* Mike Patterson came up with a sack on third down in the third quarter.

* Vinny Curry entered the game at right defensive end on the first possession. It was the first time all season he’s dressed for a game. Curry’s best moment came in the third when Newton spun out of a couple sacks before the rookie delivered a good hit on him.

* Horrible stretch in the fourth as Jason Babin, Brandon Graham and Cedric Thornton were called for offsides on consecutive plays.

* Fletcher Cox left the game in the second quarter because of a lower back/tailbone injury. X-Rays were negative, but he did not return.

* Boykin delivered his best return of the year – a 44-yarder – before fumbling in the fourth quarter.

* Mychal Kendricks broke up a pass intended for Steve Smith on third down in the red zone in the fourth, forcing a Panthers field goal.

* Strange scene to start the game. A lot of empty seats as the Eagles came out onto the field as a team and did away with player introductions.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.
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