Cardiac Cats comeback from 17 down, slip past defending champs, 21-17


Matt Rourke – Associated Press

By Hunter Bailey. October 21, 2018. PHILADELPHIA, PA – Silence overtook Lincoln Financial Field as the Carolina Panthers stormed back, scoring 21 points in the final 11 minutes of play as they overcame a 17-point fourth quarter deficit.

Cam Newton’s fourth-quarter play along with the epic collapse of the Eagles defense proved to be a recipe for disaster for the City of Brotherly Love. Newton threw 16-22 for 201 yards and 2 TD’s, just in the final 15 minutes of play alone. The former MVP extended plays with his legs and even led the team in rushing with 49 yards on 7 carries.

Carson Wentz played a near perfect game, throwing 30-37 on the day for 310 yards and 2 touchdown strikes. Wentz returned to his MVP caliber play through the air, but the scrambling aspect of his game was lackluster. The mobile QB posted a measly three carries for as many yards.


MICHAEL BRYANT / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

Sluggish play was the story of the first quarter, as the Eagles sustained a 15-play drive, using over 8 minutes of clock, just for Eagles place kicker Jake Elliott to miss a 36-yard field goal; just three yards longer than an extra point. This miss put him at 2 for 6 from 36 yards and out, an abysmal statistic for an NFL kicker.

The Eagles got on the board first with an 11-yard pass from Wentz to Alshon Jeffery with under twelve minutes to play in the second quarter. The Panthers immediately went three and out, a familiar story of the first half, as they punted on all four of their possessions.

Mario Addison halted another long Eagle drive with a sack of Carson Wentz on third down, forcing a 46-yard field goal. Jake Elliott redeemed himself, placing the ball right down the middle of the uprights to push the Eagle lead to 10-0.

The Panthers pieced together their best drive of the first half, moving the ball into enemy territory, but ultimately shot themselves in the foot, with back to back penalties pushing them out of field goal range. Only 2 weeks prior Graham Gano had hit from 63-yards out to beat the Giants, but the swirling winds in Philadelphia called for the punt team, yet again.

Matt Rourke – AP

Philadelphia looked sharp on their first possession of the second half, putting together a 94-yard touchdown drive, ending with Wentz finding the first-year tight end Dallas Goedert for a 1-yard touchdown pass with under a minute remaining in the third quarter, pushing the Eagle lead to 17-0.

The comeback begins

An 11 play, 80-yard drive got the Panthers on the board for the first time all day. With Curtis Samuel finishing it off with a reverse trick play from 14-yards out. The Carolina sideline rejoiced as their offense showed signs of life but was immediately stunned as Graham Gano missed the extra point, leaving the score at 17-6.

The ensuing Eagles drive stalled with yet another sack, this time by all-pro LB Luke Kuechly. Kuechly led the Panther defense with 12 solo tackles and an eye-popping four tackles for loss.

Trailing by 11 with under seven minutes to play, it was go-time for the Panther offense. Cam Newton went 5-5 on the drive and found Devin Funchess on an 18-yard touchdown strike to trim the Eagle lead to just 5. The Eagles defense was reeling, and the Panthers continued to capitalize, converting the two-point conversion attempt as Newton found Jarius Wright to make it a 17-14 game with four minutes remaining.

Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The Panther defense, along with questionable play calling completely shut down the Eagle’s high-flying offense, forcing yet another three and out. With just two minutes to play, the Cam Newton led Panthers continued their terrific play.

An incredible fourth and ten conversion for the Panther offense extended the game, as Newton stepped up in the pocket, and shrugged off a defender while finding former Eagle Torrey Smith for a 35-yard gain. The Panthers would use only 55 seconds to go 69 yards on 10 plays, and Cam threw his second touchdown of the day to Greg Olson from just 1 yard out.

Lincoln Financial Field was silent, realizing their team had blown a three-score lead in just 15 minutes of play. A crucial defensive pass interference call catapulted the Eagles to a first and ten at the Panther 22-yard line. The very next play Carson Wentz overthrew TE Zach Ertz, landing in the hands of recently signed Eric Reid, in what looked to be a game-sealing interception. After an extended booth review, the officials would overturn the call, and give life back to the Philly faithful.

Wentz looked to Jeffrey for what would’ve been their second connection on the day, but Panthers Safety Mike Adams jumped the route, deflecting the potential game-winning touchdown. On fourth and two from the Panther 14-yard line with just 30 seconds to play, Julius Peppers forced a game-winning fumble, as the Panthers recovered and completed the comeback.

The Panthers 17-point comeback tied for the largest in franchise history and propelled them to 4-2, just one game back from the division-leading Saints (5-1).

The Eagles went into Sunday with a 152-2-1 record in franchise history when leading by 17 points or more, but the incredible Carolina effort shot down the birds, sending them to 3-4 on the year. It is gut-check time for the defending Super Bowl champions.

What’s Next?

The Eagles look to get back on track as they head to London to matchup with the struggling Jacksonville Jaguars (3-4). This is a matchup with major playoff implications for both teams, as they both look to avoid a 3-5 start.

Carolina will head back to the Queen City to take on the Baltimore Ravens (4-3). The Ravens are coming off a heart-breaking loss, with sure-fire kicker Justin Tucker missing an extra point in the final seconds, leading to a 24-23 loss to the Saints.

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