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3 things we learned about the Eagles

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Never before were the Carolina Panthers this good this deep into a season.

They are 6-0 and feeling as if things are going their way.

“You can doubt us all you want, we’re going to keep going,” fullback Mike Tolbert said. “We’re trying to stay on top of the division.”

Tolbert scored two touchdowns, and the Panthers defeated the Philadelphia Eagles 27-16 Sunday night to mark the best start in franchise history.

The Panthers, who played their first home game in nearly a month, are 6-0 for the first time. Their previous best season-opening winning streak lasted five games in 2003.

“We’ve still got a lot more games, a lot more games,” Carolina quarterback Cam Newton said.

The list of contributors keeps growing, with veteran defensive end Jared Allen making a big impact in his second game with the team since a trade from the Chicago Bears. He notched a sack and was a nuisance at times as the Eagles had to deal with a stout pass rush.

“It’s good in all the right ways,” Allen said. “We’ve got guys coming (from all angles). It’s just fun. Everybody is celebrating for everybody.”

The Eagles (3-4) had a two-game winning streak end. Trailing by eight late in the game, they punted with 7:07 remaining and then turned the ball over on downs with 1:56 left.

Philadelphia had 349 yards of total offense, but most of that total came in small slices.

“It’s nothing different for us,” said Panthers linebacker A.J. Klein, who missed the previous game as he was in the concussion protocol. “We’re just doing things the right way, and (it’s fitting) when the defense is on the field to end it.”

The Eagles stalled so often that they attempted four field goals.

“We all have to execute better,” said Philadelphia running back DeMarco Murray, who gained 65 yards on 18 carries. “We’ve just got to continue to get better. I thought we had a great game plan. We have to not hurt ourselves.”

What we learned about the Eagles:

1. The Eagles have plenty of areas that they must shore up, and one of those is pass protection. With quarterback Sam Bradford not known for his mobility, it is even more important to keep the pocket clean. Even when he wasn’t sacked by Carolina, he was forced into some uncomfortable spots. That accounted in part for only 13 completions among 25 first-half passes. He finished 26-for-46 for 205 yards and one interception, and he was sacked five times.

2. The Eagles don’t always stick with what is working, and running back Ryan Mathews is a prime example. He had only six carries in the game against Carolina, only two in the second half. One of those resulted in a 63-yard touchdown run in the third quarter. While others might be more vocal about wanting to see more of Mathews, he seems to understand. “We have three good running backs, and we all are trying to make the plays,” he said.

3. The Eagles are hitting their open week on the schedule at a good time. “The bye week is what we need, to just rest up and get ready,” defensive tackle Bennie Logan said. On the offensive side, it could be a time for Bradford to become more comfortable with his receivers, which might help eliminate a rash of dropped passes.

Etc.

–WR Jordan Matthews was held in check by Carolina’s defense, making just three catches for 14 yards. That was a sharp contrast from a year ago in a meeting with the Panthers when he caught two touchdown passes and picked up 138 yards on seven receptions.

–RB DeMarco Murray received a bulk of the carries against Carolina, logging 18 rushes for 65 yards. Philadelphia ran a total of 30 rushing plays. Murray said the bye week should be a good chance to iron out some of the problems that are affecting the offense.

–OT Jason Peters left the field on a cart after he sustained a first-quarter injury that was described as a lower-back ailment. He didn’t return to action. He was blocking Carolina DE Jared Allen, another 12-year NFL player, on the play in which he was injured. Peters, 33, he is the oldest non-specialist on the Philadelphia roster.


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