Instant Observations: Eagles-Panthers

Eagles fall in Carolina.

Courtesy of USA Today

Courtesy of USA Today

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Here’s what we saw during the Eagles’ 27-16 loss to the Panthers from Bank of America Stadium:

*Drops continue to be a big problem for this offense. Jordan Matthews had a pair. Darren Sproles let a red zone pass hit the turf in the second quarter. Josh Huff had one go through his hands in the back of the end zone in the third quarter. Zach Ertz and Miles Austin each dropped one on the Eagles’ final drive.

Jeremy Maclin‘s price tag may have been too steep, but there is no denying that his presence on this team has been missed.

Matthews’ struggles in particular have been a disappointment. According to Pro Football Focus, the receiver entered the game second in drop percentage, allowing 10 percent of catchable balls to hit the ground.

*Sam Bradford went 26-of-45 for 205 yards with an interception (60.0 rating). He was sacked five times.

*Ryan Mathews continues to shine when given the opportunity. He broke off a career-high 63-yarder in the third that sliced Carolin’s lead to eight. A giant hole opened up on the left side for Mathews to dart through. Credit Riley Cooper for a nice block on the outside. He finished with six carries for 97 yards. DeMarco Murray had 18 carries for 65 yards.

*Billy Davis said this week that the defense’s goal is to come up with three turnovers per game. Once again, they hit that mark — and in spectacular fashion. Byron Maxwell dove to snare a ball in the third that bounced off Devin Funchess; Malcolm Jenkins made a tremendous diving interception along the right sideline at the end of the first half; Nolan Carroll ripped one out of the hands of Ted Ginn deep in Eagles territory in the opening quarter. The Eagles now have 19 takeaways on the season, which leads the league.

*Jason Peters suffered what was announced as lower back spasms with 5:21 remaining in the first quarter. Peters’ right leg appeared to give out while pass blocking. Encircled by concerned players from both teams, the All-Pro tackle laid on the ground face-first for several minutes as trainers tended to him. He was eventually helped to the cart by Vinny Curry and taken inside for x-rays. He did not return.

*Matt Tobin took his spot at left tackle, while Dennis Kelly came in top play right guard. Tobin yielded a pair of key sacks to Jared Allen late in the game. Allen tipped a Bradford pass intended for Darren Sproles on the drive as well.

*Panthers defensive tackle Kawann Short was a menace all night and came up with a big sack midway through the fourth, pushing Allen Barbre deep into the backfield before taking down Bradford.


*The beginning of the game followed a similar pattern, with the defense yielding an opening-drive touchdown before settling in. Jonathan Stewart‘s 36-yard run sparked the drive, which was capped by a two-yard Mike Tolbert run. It appeared Mychal Kendricks, playing for the first time since the Washington game, was partly responsible for losing contain on the Stewart run. He got the start opposite Jordan Hicks with DeMeco Ryans sidelined with a hamstring injury.

*Caleb Sturgis went 3-of-4 with a long of 52. His miss was from 50 yards out early in the fourth, which would have cut the lead to two. He sailed one of his first-half kickoffs out of bounds, setting thePanthers up at the 40.  Moments later, the Eagles defense got caught on a reverse that Ginn broke for 43 yards late in the second quarter. Marcus Smith and Nolan Carroll were the the outside linebacker and cornerback, respectively, on the play side.

*Bennie Logan got called for encroachment twice near the goal line on that same series before Cam Newton ran it in.

*The Eagles committed seven penalties for 46 yards.

*The Panthers rushed the ball 33 times for 204 yards (6.2 avg.). Newton finished 14-of-24 for 197 yards with a TD and three interceptions. He ran for 20 yards and a score.