Observations: Eagles 45, Panthers 21

Photo Credit: Eric Hartline - USA Today

Photo Credit: Eric Hartline – USA Today

Here’s what we saw during the Eagles’ 45-21 win against the Panthers Monday night.


* In his first start since 2012, Mark Sanchez completed 20 of 37 passes for 332 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. That translated to a passer rating of 105.3.

* Sanchez’s favorite target was rookie Jordan Matthews, who had a monster game with seven catches for 138 yards and two touchdowns on nine targets. In the second quarter, Sanchez rolled to his left and found Matthews for a 13-yard touchdown. In the fourth, Sanchez lofted one over a defensive lineman, and Matthews broke a couple tackles before scoring from 18 yards out. The rookie also added catches of 20 and 23 yards.

* Brent Celek had a huge game too. He had 14 catches for 90 yards in the Eagles’ first eight games. Against the Panthers, Celek caught five balls for 116 yards on six targets. His 29-yard catch down the seam set up a LeSean McCoy touchdown. McCoy scored from 1 yard out. He ran right behind Jason Peters and then tossed the ball to his offensive lineman for the spike.

* The Eagles did not have a lot of success running the ball. McCoy carried 12 times for 19 yards (1.6 YPC). That led to a pass-heavy game from Chip Kelly.

* In terms of taking care of the football, Sanchez had one bad decision where he targeted Maclin near the sideline. The Panthers cornerback had an interception, but couldn’t keep his feet in bounds. There were some sloppy moments, but no other near-INTs (at least as far as I could tell). The offensive line was fantastic. Sanchez had all day and did a good job of navigating the pocket. He was sacked once. Sanchez fumbled twice on shotgun snaps, but recovered both.

* Darren Sproles scored the Eagles’ first touchdown from 8 yards out. The Eagles continue to show they have the best special-teams unit in the league. Sproles returned a punt 65 yards in the first quarter for a score. He entered the game leading the NFL in punt return average.

* Celek suffered an ankle injury in the fourth quarter. No word on its severity, but he returned to the sideline and appeared to be OK.. The Eagles did not suffer any other injuries on the offensive side of the ball.

* Kelly replaced Sanchez with Barkley with 5:30 left in the game.


* The defense was fantastic throughout, tallying five takeaways and nine sacks. The Eagles pressured Cam Newton and took advantage of his mistakes.

* Connor Barwin finished the night with 3.5 sacks. After one sack late in the first half, Barwin went right over to Fletcher Cox and thanked him. Cox has been getting pressure on opposing QBs all season long. He finally got his first sack of the season in the second half. Trent Cole, Mychal Kendricks, Vinny Curry and Brandon Graham (2) all had sacks as well. Graham and Curry forced fumbles. After his sack of Newton in the fourth quarter, Graham limped off.

* On the first drive, Casey Matthews and Cedric Thornton combined to bring down DeAngelo Williams. Matthews punched the ball out, and the Eagles had their first takeaway.

* On the next possession, Cary Williams stepped in front of Kelvin Benjamin for an interception. His running mate, Bradley Fletcher, later came up with a pick-six. And Nate Allen added a third interception on a Hail Mary near the end of the first half.

* Matthews started for DeMeco Ryans, but Emmanuel Acho rotated in.

* Cam Newton went 25-for-40 for 306 yards, two touchdowns and three picks. Both TDs came in the fourth quarter after the Eagles had built up a 45-7 lead. The Panthers ran it 31 times for 94 yards (3.0 YPC).

* Bennie Logan leveled Williams on a 3rd-and-2 run in the second. The Panthers went for it on fourth down, and Newton threw incomplete downfield.

* Carolina’s nine first-half possessions resulted in four turnovers, three punts, a turnover on downs and a touchdown. That enabled the Eagles to build up a big lead.

* Kendricks and Barwin led the Eagles with eight tackles apiece. Matthews added seven.