Third-quarter surge lifts Philly
Wentz leads way as Philadelphia beats Carolina in battle of division leaders
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.
Philadelphia’s Alshon Jeffery (17) catches a pass in front of Carolina’s Kevon Seymour in the second half of their game Thursday night.