Cam Newton had an up-and-down game in the Panthers' win against the Eagles. He started strong on the team’s opening drive leading the offense to a quick touchdown. After the defense gave them the ball back in Eagles territory, Newton rifled a pass to Ted Ginn who apparently had it wrestled from him but was ruled an interception. Newton would go on to throw two more interceptions, although only one of the three was truly his fault as another occurred after a pass tipped off of Devin Funchess’ hands. Other than the turnovers, it was much of the same for Newton in this one. He completed just over 50% of his passes and threw for 197-yards to go with a lone touchdown pass. He had just four carries Sunday night but made the most of them going for 20-yards and a score. Newton led a number of methodical drives for the offense which has been the team’s forte this season. Not a game that will jump off the page for Newton, but still a solid performance from the Panthers’ quarterback.
The player of the game came from this position group as Jonathan Stewart had his best game yet and was a key reason for the sustained drives from the Panthers’ offense. Stewart rushed for a season high 125-yards on 24 carries and averaged an impressive 5.2-yards-per-carry and continually gashed the Philadelphia defense for big gains. Stewart was able to get things going after not recording a single 100-yard game to start to the year and gave the Carolina offense the boost it needed to win this one, consistently moving the pile and picking up tough yards. He wasn’t the only contributor out of the backfield though as Mike Tolbert also helped in a big way. The fullback only rushed three times for 16-yards but he scored on one of those runs at the goal line and scored another on a short throw. Tolbert certainly showed why the Panthers value him so much, leading the way for Stewart’s big night and pitching in himself and scoring twice.
As evidenced by a mere 14 completions from Newton, the wide receivers didn’t rack up the stats but they were able to do what they needed in order to keep the offense moving and in rhythm. Ted Ginn was targeted a team high eight times and showed once again that he is Newton’s top option in the receiving corps. Ginn caught five passes for 59-yards and added a nice 43-yard run on an end around that led to the Panthers second quarter touchdown. Philly Brown was the only other receiver to record multiple catches and made a few key grabs to extend drives, finishing with three receptions for 39-yards. Of course, there were the usual struggles from the group, most notably from rookie Devin Funchess who tipped a wide open pass from Newton into the air which led to an interception and a subsequent Eagles field goal. Ginn also contributed to a pick as previously mentioned when he had the ball wrestled from him, killing a promising first quarter drive.
Following a monster performance last week, Greg Olsen was held relatively quiet in this matchup. Even a quiet day for the tight end is fairly respectable though as he still finished with three catches for 65-yards which led the offense. Each of his catches was impactful with two catches going for more than 20-yards and setting up the offense for success. Olsen also left his mark in the run game where he is an underrated asset as a blocker. He contributed to Stewart’s big day on the ground and on Ginn’s long run he ran stride for stride with the receiver making blocks downfield. Five targets in too few for the team’s best offensive weapon but it was still a solid game for the Carolina tight end.
The Panthers offensive line continued their impressive play this season and neutralized a tough Eagles defensive line all game long. In the run game, they paved the way for the team’s big night on the ground and provided the offense with a consistent push up front holding defensive stars Fletcher Cox and Bennie Logan to just five total tackles. The interior of the line had a terrific performance and the trio of Andrew Norwell, Ryan Kalil and Trai Turner has quickly become one of the toughest guard-center groups in the league. The unit also did a solid job in pass protection and gave up just one sack and two hurries the entire night. It was another solid performance from this overachieving line.
The defensive line for the Panthers has been so-so this season showing a mixture of brilliance and struggles. But Sunday night was the former for this group as they took it to Philadelphia’s offensive line for much of this contest. Defensive tackle Kawann Short continued to show his dominance and filled up the stat sheet with eight total tackles, three sacks, two quarterback hits and even a pass deflection. Through seven weeks, Short has a better interior lineman grade than both Aaron Donald and JJ Watt, according to Pro Football Focus. The line totaled five sacks as a whole with Mario Addison and Jared Allen each chipping in with one. Allen finished the game strong getting in on a number of plays in the final quarter. Addison left the game with a shoulder injury and will likely miss time and at times the unit was ineffective but overall it was a promising showing for the Carolina front four.
Week in and week out Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis can be seen flying across the field to make plays for the Panthers defense and this matchup was no different. The two linebackers were everywhere Sunday night and made play after play shutting down many of the Eagles signature screens and swing passes. The two combined for 24 total tackles and were a key reason for the impressive play from the Panthers defense. Davis specifically made a number of quick reads and laid numerous big hits on the Eagles offense. Kuechly suffered a minor shoulder injury after making a play in the fourth quarter but quickly returned and looks to be fine heading forward. Kuechly also took a poor angle on the long Ryan Mathews touchdown run but certainly made up for it with the rest of his play. One of the best linebacker duos in the league continued to lead one of the top defenses in the league with their Week 7 performance.
The Carolina secondary played well in this contest and held the Eagles offense in check for much of the game. Colin Jones recorded his first career interception in the first quarter and Bene Benwikere had a notable performance in which he shut down Philadelphia’s top receiver, Jordan Matthews. Josh Norman was barely targeted and was in on a couple nice pass breakups including a big diving break up in the end zone to prevent a touchdown. The unit was helped by a staggering number of drops from the Eagles’ receivers as well but still managed to hold Sam Bradford to just 205-yards and no touchdowns.