Monday, November 26, 2012

Eagles fall to Panthers, drop seventh straight


PHILADELPHIA — The last Eagles head coach to lose seven straight games never got a chance to coach them again.

Now it’s Andy Reid’s turn to test Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie, who wore his overcoat watching the 30-22 loss to the Carolina Panthers Monday.

The Eagles got a huge effort from rookie Bryce Brown, who rushed for 178 yards and two touchdowns, including a 65-yard burst evoking imagery of Adrian Peterson.

But Brown also fumbled the ball away twice, and the Eagles turned the ball over three times on the night while the Panthers were mistake-free.

Cam Newton threw for 306 yards and two touchdowns and ran for two scores to spark the Panthers (3-8), coached by Ron Rivera, who cut his teeth as an assistant coach under Reid.

Panthers defensive coordinator Sean McDermott called the play that stopped Brown on a fourth-and-one late in the game preserving the victory.

Reid, the winningest head coach in franchise history, now is just two defeats from becoming the first Eagles head coach to lose 100 games.

In front of plenty of empty seats, Reid and the Eagles went down firing. There were boos but not nearly the projected frustration that led the Eagles to add extra security.

Graham Gano’s 23-yard field goal in the first three minutes of the fourth quarter gave the Panthers a 26-22 lead.

After Brown was stopped on fourth-and-one at the 40-yard line of the Panthers, Newton went back to work. Steve Smith caught a 31-yard pass and Newton went the final two yards standing up for his second TD.

Gano missed the PAT, keeping the lead at 30-22, and giving the Eagles at least a chance to send this game into overtime with a two-point conversion.

But Brandon Boykin fumbled the ball away on a 44-yard kickoff return, his longest of the season.
After blowing a 14-3 lead in the first half, the Panthers got back to work in the third quarter.

Newton connected with Louis Murphy for 55 yards, the receiver drawing an interference penalty from Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.

After the Eagles adjusted Newton downshifted, carrying on five of the last seven plays, covering 26 yards and concluding in a one-yard TD run giving the Panthers a 21-15 lead.

A 51-yard pass interference penalty drawn by Jeremy Maclin set up Brown’s second touchdown, a five-yard run giving the Eagles a 22-21 lead with 3:30 left in the third quarter. Maclin went up strong against safety Haruki Nakamura.

Alex Henery kicked a 36-yard field goal when the Eagles’ opening possession stalled at the 18-yard on back-to-back-to-back bad plays by Foles. Foles bobbled a snap. The Panthers then nearly picked him on two throws.

Just when it seemed safe to take a deep breath, Newton found Gary Barnidge and Brandon LaFell wide open for touchdown passes of 24 and 39 yards, respectively.

Safety Kurt Coleman got an earful from defensive coordinator Todd Bowles on the first one. Asomugha also was in that frame.

LaFell found a seam as large as end zone section 130 on the second score. Safety Nate Allen and linebacker Mychal Kendricks were looking at each other.

Meanwhile Henery kicked the first of three first-half field goals that would give him a club-record 19 straight makes for the Eagles. It cut the score to 14-6 in the second quarter.

Then Brown burst 65 yards down the right side of the field to pull the Eagles within 14-12. Reid called for a two-point play. It complemented the first-half game plan with direct snaps to Brown and fake reverses.

But Foles’ pass was picked off on the try.

The Panthers seemed annoyed that the Eagles had fought back. But they couldn’t get much going against a defense that at times used five defensive linemen and a ton of defensive backs to stop the run.

Henery’s 45-yard field goal with 3:20 left sent the Eagles into the intermission with a 15-14 lead.


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