Third-quar­ter surge lifts Philly

Wentz leads way as Philadel­phia beats Carolina in bat­tle of di­vi­sion lead­ers

Albuquerque Journal - - SPORTS - BY STEVE REED

CHAR­LOTTE, N.C. — Car­son Wentz con­tin­ues to show poise beyond his years in his sec­ond NFL sea­son.

Wentz threw for 222 yards and three touch­downs against one of the NFL’s top de­fenses as the Philadel­phia Ea­gles beat the Carolina Pan­thers 28-23 on Thurs­day night to im­prove to an NFC-best 5-1.

The Ea­gles turned two in­ter­cep­tions deep in Carolina ter­ri­tory into 15 points. Wentz teamed with Zach Ertz on two touch­down passes, and LaGar­rette Blount scored on a 2-point con­ver­sion run for an 18-10 lead in the third quar­ter. Wentz added a 24-yard scor­ing pass to Nel­son Agholor in the fourth quar­ter.

“He’s a great leader of this foot­ball team, even in his sec­ond year,” Ea­gles coach Doug Ped­er­son said. “Guys re­ally re­spect the way he plays. It’s ex­cit­ing to see that.”

Cam New­ton threw three in­ter­cep­tions for Carolina (4-2).

The first two in­ter­cep­tions came in­side Carolina’s 20, but weren’t New­ton’s fault. He was hit by Fletcher Cox as he re­leased one pass, and run­ning back Jonathan Stewart bob­bled an­other pass re­sult­ing in a pick. New­ton’s third in­ter­cep­tion — by Jalen Mills with 3:06 left — ended a chance for the go-ahead score.

Carolina had one last shot to win, but turned it over on downs at mid­field.

“It’s dis­ap­point­ing be­cause we had the op­por­tu­ni­ties,” Pan­thers coach Ron Rivera said. “We can’t kick field goals and beat good teams. We can’t turn the ball over and not take it away.”

Pan­thers mid­dle line­backer Luke Kuechly was placed into the con­cus­sion pro­to­col af­ter his body crum­pled fol­low­ing a col­li­sion with Ea­gles pulling guard Bran­don Brooks. All of the Ea­gles’ TDs came af­ter Kuechly left late in the sec­ond quar­ter.

Pan­thers cor­ner­back Cap­tain Mun­ner­lyn said it won’t be easy to re­place Keuchly, adding “Luke is a big part of what we do.”

Added de­fen­sive tackle Kawann Short: “You saw a quick prayer, but then the game has to go on.”

For Philadel­phia, af­ter a two-game ab­sence due to a calf in­jury, Fletcher Cox re­turned and was a dom­i­nant force. Along with the tipped pass on New­ton’s in­ter­cep­tion, he also had a sack and two quar­ter­back hur­ries.

MIKE MCCARN/AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Philadel­phia’s Al­shon Jef­fery (17) catches a pass in front of Carolina’s Kevon Sey­mour in the sec­ond half of their game Thurs­day night.

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