Grading the Eagles: Pass defense gets an ‘F’ in loss to Panthers | Paul Domowitch
The Eagles blew a 17-point lead to the Carolina Panthers in the fourth quarter and the grades are in.
Paul Domowitch analyzes each phase of the game. Read his breakdown and tell us what you think.
The Eagles averaged just 2.4 yards per carry against a Panthers defense that was giving up 4.6. Fourteen of the Eagles' 24 runs gained two yards or less. Corey Clement averaged just 0.8 yards per carry. When the highlight of your rushing day is a quarterback sneak, you've not done well.
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Carson Wentz put up terrific numbers: He completed 81.1 percent of his attempts, averaged 8.4 yards per attempt and threw two more touchdowns and no interceptions for the fourth straight game. But five of his seven incompletions were on third down, where he was 2-for-7 with just one passing first down. On the Eagles' two failed fourth-quarter possessions, he averaged just 2.9 yards per attempt.
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The Panthers rushed for 121 yards on 17 carries, but 24 of those yards came on a pair of Cam Newton third-and-forever runs. The one killer run they gave up was wide receiver Curtis Samuel's 14-yard touchdown run on an end-around that kick-started the Panthers' fourth-quarter comeback.
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The fourth-and-10 completion to Torrey Smith is what we'll remember the most about the Eagles' fourth-quarter collapse. But there were a ton of ugly moments. After containing Cam Newton for three quarters, the Eagles suddenly forgot how to cover, tackle, and rush the passer, as Newton completed 16 of 22 passes for 201 yards and two TDs on the Panthers' final three possessions.
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Jake Elliott's 36-yard miss into a swirling wind in the first quarter wasn't easy, but that's why they pay him the big bucks. To his credit, he redeemed himself with a 46-yarder a little later. DeAndre Carter had a 13-yard punt return and a 30-yard kickoff return. The Eagles' coverage teams turned in another solid performance. But those missing three points hurt.
It's easy to blame this loss entirely on the defense, and, yes, that was a monumental choke fourth-quarter choke job. But despite Carson Wentz's shiny passing numbers, the offense also was culpable. The Eagles were 3-for-12 on third down and 2-for-4 in the red zone. They controlled the ball for more than 35 minutes and managed to score just two touchdowns. Wentz averaged just 2.9 yards per attempt in the fourth quarter.
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