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Eagles battle back after ugly start to beat Panthers, 21 to 18

Jalen Hurts and the Birds gutted it out in Carolina.

Philadelphia Eagles v Carolina Panthers Photo by Mike Comer/Getty Images

The Philadelphia Eagles are 2-3 after beating the Carolina Panthers on Sunday afternoon! Final score: 21 to 18.

It was an ugly start for the Birds, falling to a 12-point deficit at one point. But the defense settled in and then the special teams unit came up with a big punt block to set the Eagles up with the go-ahead score. Jalen Hurts certainly didn’t have his best game ever but he delivered when it mattered most.

Avoiding a 1-4 start with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Thursday night looming was pretty crucial. Credit to Nick Sirianni and the players for continuing to battle.

Read on for a recap and stay tuned for BGN’s postgame coverage.

FIRST QUARTER

  • The Panthers won the coin toss and elected to defer. The Eagles got the ball first and Jalen Reagor fielded the opening kickoff very deep in the end zone to only get to the 21-yard line. Then he dropped Jalen Hurts’ first pass attempt. Then Miles Sanders got tackled for loss on a screen. On 3rd-and-17, the Eagles threw short to Sanders just to pick up some yards. Reagor got called for holding (terrible start for him!) but it was declined to bring up an opening three-and-out.
  • The Eagles’ defense got started out with ... a flag. Facemask by Alex Singleton. So much for cutting back on penalties. The Panthers drove into field goal range and had to settle for a 48-yard kick after Sam Darnold threw the ball away on 3rd-and-10. Solid start by the D. Good pressure from Derek Barnett and Josh Sweat early. EAGLES 0, PANTHERS 3.
  • Another three-and-out from the Eagles with Hurts throwing behind Reagor over the middle. The receiver didn’t look ready for the ball. On the bright side, Arryn Siposs had a great 64-yard punt that bounced out of bounds at the 5-yard line. Beauty.
  • The combination of a woeful underthrow by Sam Darnold (who was pressured a little) and a great leaping effort from Darius Slay resulted in the CB’s second pick since joining Philly last year. Nice to finally see a big play from Big Play Slay.
  • The Eagles took over at the 10-yard line but got knocked back to 3rd-and-goal from the 12. A scrambling Hurts hit DeVonta Smith to bring up 4th-and-goal from the 2. Nick Sirianni correctly went for it and Smith caught his second NFL touchdown ... but it was negated with Greg Ward rightfully getting called for OPI on a pick play. Fourth Eagles TD wiped off the board in the last two games. Terrible. Players making the same mistakes, coaching staff calling the same plays that lead to penalties. Just not smart stuff. Sirianni settled for a 30-yard Jake Elliott field goal instead. EAGLES 3, PANTHERS 3.
  • The Panthers started at the 38-yard line after a nice kick return. They went 62 in nine plays for their first touchdown with Darnold finding a wide open Tommy Tremble. Looked like a coverage breakdown. Way too easy for Carolina. EAGLES 3, PANTHERS 10.
  • The Eagles picked up a first down. A miracle! They failed to get another one after Hurts’ pass for Zach Ertz on 3rd-and-5 was broken up. Looked like A.J. Bouye got there early but no call.

SECOND QUARTER

  • Darnold aired it out deep for Robby Anderson but Avonte Maddox was able to break up a bad ball that led the receiver back into coverage. Still, nice leaping deflection by Maddox. Darnold overthrew a wide open target on 3rd-and-10 to bring up a Panthers punt. Darnold’s bad mistakes were the best thing the Eagles’ defense had going for them.
  • Hurts quick throw to Ertz beat a blitz to convert 3rd-and-5. Nice job. The Eagles’ next third down was Hurts throwing a hospital ball to Kenny Gainwell, who dropped it before taking a big shot short of the sticks anyway. Hurts probably should’ve ran it himself. Punt.
  • On 3rd-and-4, Javon Hargrave beat his blocker clean off the line of scrimmage and came up the middle to sack Sam Darnold. Been such a beast. Sixth sack in his fifth game, putting him 0.5 shy of matching his single-season career high. Really big play to force a three-and-out.
  • Hurts had a clean pocket after play-action but didn’t see anything down the field and threw the ball away. The Eagles ran a screen to Quez Watkins but it failed with Reagor getting shoved back into the backfield. Holding on Jordan Mailata set the Eagles back to 3rd-and-20. Then Siposs shanked a punt for only 16 yards with a Panthers special teamer bearing down on him for a block. Awful possesion.
  • DJ Moore gave himself up in the backfield and Singleton hit him anyway to bring up another penalty. So dumb. The Panthers drove to field goal range before Darnold got sacked by Josh Sweat. The Panthers’ 43-yard field goal attempt was good. EAGLES 3, PANTHERS 13.
  • Another bad decision by Reagor the kick returner as he fielded the ball three yards in the end zone and brought it out to the 16 instead of starting at the 25-yard line. The lost field position hurt, too, as disaster struck next. A high shotgun snap by Jason Kelce went over Hurts’ outstretched hands and into the Eagles’ own end zone. Instead of diving on the ball, Hurts tried to pick it up and was very lucky the ball went out of bounds for a safety instead of recovered for a Panthers touchdown. EAGLES 3, PANTHERS 15.
  • The Panthers got to the Eagles’ 46-yard line but decided to punt on 4th-and-2. A gift from Matt Rhule.
  • The Eagles took over at their own 16-yard line with 0:31 left on the clock. Completions to Reagor and Smith took the Eagles to their own 48-yard line with 0:20 on the clock and one timeout remaining. The Eagles got a free play with the Panthers jumping offside and Hurts did well to recognize it ... but threw the ball out of bounds. On a free play. Bad. Hurts had a nice completion to Smith over the middle to put the Eagles at Carolina’s 40-yard line with Philly calling their final timeout. The Eagles ran a play for a shorter field goal attempt but Ertz was covered so Hurts threw it out of bounds. He missed an opportunity to hit a wide open Quez Watkins for a touchdown there, which he knew based on his body language. Costly. Elliott just made the 58-yard field goal. EAGLES 6, PANTHERS 15.

THIRD QUARTER

  • Steve Nelson broke up a 3rd-and-10 pass to Robby Anderson to force a punt.
  • Good blocking from the punt return team left Reagor with a lot of open field to pick up a 22-yard return. Net gain of only 25 yards for Carolina on their punt. Smith caught a pass from Hurts for a first down and then immediately had it punched out for a fumble. Naturally, Jeremy Chinn had the recovery. Hard to blame DeVonta on the fumble, just a really good punch by Jackson.
  • Cox picked up his first sack in 301 days to force a Panthers three-and-out.
  • The Eagles turned the ball over on back-to-back plays with Hurts finally airing it out deep only to overthrow Ertz and get picked off by Donte Jackson. Yikes.
  • The Eagles got the ball back with Slay notching ANOTHER pick, his second of the day. Darnold sure isn’t good.
  • The Eagles went three-and-out after Mailata gave up sacks to Haason Reddick on back-to-back plays. Tough spot for him playing through injury and out of position.
  • Hargrave pressured Darnold into an incompletion, JUST missed a sack. The Panthers lined up for a field goal but turned it into a surprise punt. It went for a touchback for a net gain of 20 yards for Carolina. Not the best for them.
  • Hurts aired it out deep to a wide open Quez Watkins and hit him for a 53-yard gain. The Eagles’ best big play threat. Hurts targeted Smith with a throw into the end zone and the rookie receiver drew a pass interference penalty on Donte Jackson. Hurts snuck it in for the touchdown. Hey, a successful conversion from 1st-and-goal at the 1-yard line this time! It’s a ball game! EAGLES 12, PANTHERS 15.

FOURTH QUARTER

  • The Panthers pounded the rock to move into Eagles territory but their drive stalled out with Genard Avery (!) coming up with a tackle for loss. The Panthers settled for a 50-yard field goal make. EAGLES 13, PANTHERS 18.
  • 14-yard gain by Hurts after the quarterback kept the ball on a read. The Eagles drove to 3rd-and-4 from Carolina’s 39-yard line. The Eagles lined up and seemed confused and Hurts underthrew Gainwell on a wheel route. Sirianni went for it on 4th-and-4 and Ertz couldn’t catch a ball that was a little far out ahead of him. Needed a better throw there.
  • The Panthers went three-and-out after Anderson dropped a first down conversion. T.J. Edwards came up big by blocking the Panthers’ punt for a Shaun Bradley recovery! Weird how he didn’t try to scoop and score, though.
  • The Eagles took over at Carolina’s 27-yard line. Hurts hit Dallas Goedert over the middle for a 21 yards to bring up goal-to-go. Goedert dropped a would-be touchdown on first down. Hurts kept the ball on a read on second down and ran it into the end zone for the go-ahead touchdown! Hurts pulled out the old Cam Newton Superman celebration. The Eagles went for the two-point conversion and Hurts evaded a blitzing defender to find an open Smith in the back of the end zone for two! Great job by the offense to come up big in the clutch. EAGLES 21, PANTHERS 18.
  • The Panthers took over with 2:38 left in the game and three timeouts to work with. Carolina got to 3rd-and-15 and Darnold hit Anderson for a first down. Ugh. Cox drew a holding penalty and then Steve Nelson came up with a pick!
  • Miles Sanders inexplicably ran out of bounds to stop the clock. He made up for it on the next play with an 18-yard run for a first down where he stayed in. But then he ran out of bounds AGAIN on a loss. WTF. The Eagles took Sanders out and replaced him with Gainwell, who ran and stayed in. The Eagles got to 3rd-and-1 and Hurts kept the ball on an option run to pick up a tough first down on the ground. Game!

LINEUP NOTES

  • Jalen Reagor, not Quez Watkins, was the opening kick returner.
  • Starting offensive line from left to right: Andre Dillard, Landon Dickerson, Jason Kelce, Jack Driscoll, Jordan Mailata. As expected.

INJURIES

  • Pam Oliver said something about Fletcher Cox being carted into the locker room for an X-ray at halftime. But he didn’t noticeably miss any playing time. Odd.
  • Derek Barnett got banged up early in the third quarter. He came back in.