The game started off with the Eagles receiving the ball on offense after Carolina won the coin toss and deferred. DeMarco Murray ran hard to move the chains but Sam Bradford got sacked on third down after Jason Peters got beat by ... Mario Addison. A false start on Lane Johnson forced the Eagles into third-and-long.
The Panthers took over on offense and didn't waste time moving the ball. It appeared Jonathan Stewart may have fumbled on his first touch with Cedric Thornton recovering the ball in a big scrum, but there was nothing conclusive and the Eagles didn't challenge. The Panthers capitalized by scoring a touchdown three plays later on a short Mike Tolbert run. Surprise: another bad first quarter start for the Eagles.
Just when you thought things couldn't get worse, the Eagles immediately turned the ball back over. Bradford threw a pass that was a little behind Jordan Matthews, but still very catchable, and the receiver couldn't hold on. The ball went through the hands of Matthews and into the possession of former Eagles safety Kurt Coleman, because of course.
Philadelphia got bailed out thanks to a weird play where Cam Newton completed a pass to a Panthers receiver but the ball was stripped and landed on top of Nolan Carroll for the interception. It looked like the receiver may have been down, but after review the play stood. Big break for the Eagles, and good effort by Carroll. What a crazy start to the game.
Jason Peters went down with a non-contact injury and was carted off midway through the first quarter. It sure didn't look good. Matt Tobin shifted to left tackle with Dennis Kelly coming in at right guard. It was later announced Peters sustained a lower back injury.
Just when the Eagles started to show some promise on offense, Matthews dropped ANOTHER pass on third down. Terrible. The second-year receiver's struggles are killing the team.
The Eagles scored their first points of the night on a Caleb Sturgis 52-yard field goal, which was pretty surprising given his struggles. Naturally, Sturgis followed up the impressive kick was a terrible kickoff attempt that went out of bounds and gave the Panthers good starting field position. Carolina moved into scoring position thanks to a big gain on a reverse play. Two straight encroachment penalties (how?!) by Bennie Logan set up a short rushing touchdown by Newton.
Malcolm Jenkins came up with a huge interception on Newton late in the second half with a little over a minute remaining. The pick set up Philadelphia with good field position, and the Eagles moved into goal range. Matthews caught an impressive pass from Bradford in the endzone but he couldn't get both feet inbounds. Then Josh Norman batted a pass intended for Zach Ertz away to force a short Sturgis field goal. One possession game to end the first half.
But not a one possession game for long. The Eagles allowed Carolina to move 80 yards on seven plays for another Tolbert touchdown. Just a terrible job by the Eagles to allow the score. Jenkins put a hit on Tolbert, who caught a pass in the flat, to drive him backwards but no one followed up to wrap him up and get him down. Tolbert fought through contact for the score.
And then it was back to a one possession game again. Ryan Mathews broke out into the open field for a 63-yard run. It was the longest run of Mathews' career, and the longest since Bryce Brown (!) scored a 65-yard rushing touchdown in 2013.
Maxwell did his best to erase memories of his terrible tackling "attempt" by picking off Newton on a tipped pass. The Eagles' cornerback got up and returned the ball into Eagles scoring range. The Eagles ran twice with Murray in goal territory but it didn't work. Bradford hit Josh Huff in the back of the end zone but ... guess what? That's right, the pass went through his hands and he dropped it. The Eagles had to settle for another short field goal.
Philadelphia had a nice drive going late in the third quarter that lasted early into the fourth. One of the key plays involved Bradford throwing an accurate pass (!) down the field (!!) to an Eagles pass catcher who actually caught the ball (!!!). Great leaping snag by Ertz. Unfortunately for the Birds, the drive stalled when the Eagles threw a screen pass to Huff on third-and-9 for no gain. Then Sturgis came in to miss a 50-yard field goal. So much for that. The Panthers responded by moving into field goal range and making a kick.
The Eagles defense made a big stop to give the offense the ball back with 3:12 remaining in the game. The Eagles picked up a first down thanks to pass interference on Luke Kuechly, but that was about it. Ertz dropped a pass on third down. Then Miles Austin dropped a pass on fourth down. The Eagles are amazingly awful at doing something as fundamental as catching the football.
The Panthers kicked a field goal after the Eagles turned the ball over on downs to seal the deal.
What an ugly game.
Stay tuned for much more Eagles-Panthers post-game coverage.