PHILADELPHIA – To earn their third win of the season against the Philadelphia Eagles on Monday night, the Panthers produced the fourth quarter finish they'd been desperate for.
"Finally, in those crucial moments, we executed well enough," tight end Greg Olsen said. "We need more of that."
Carolina trailed by one after three quarters, but the Panthers outscored Philadelphia 9-0 in the final stanza to claim a 30-22 victory at Lincoln Financial Field.
The initial fourth quarter success was set up by Carolina's second takeaway.
Panthers defensive end Charles Johnson ripped the ball away from Eagles rookie running back Bryce Brown -- who started in place of injured running back LeSean McCoy -- late in the third quarter and linebacker Thomas Davis pounced on the ball for the recovery.
It was Brown's second lost fumble, and it allowed Carolina to take over at the Phiadelphia 45-yard line.
"Any time you can recover three fumbles and get points off those fumbles – that's huge," head coach Ron Rivera said.
Seven plays later, newly-acquired kicker Graham Gano's 23-yard field goal gave the Panthers a 23-22 lead with 12:43 to go.
The Eagles threatened to regain the lead on the ensuing possession, driving to the Carolina 40-yard line where they faced fourth-and-1.
Philadelphia handed the ball to Brown – who compiled a career-best 178 rushing yards – but he failed to gain the single yard needed on what proved to be his final carry, and the Eagles' final offensive snap.
Defensive tackle Dwan Edwards stopped Brown in the backfield before a host of Panthers defenders piled on for the critical fourth down denial with 8:35 remaining.
"It was a huge play in the game," Edwards said. "I was able to make an inside move and get some penetration and get a big stop."
The Panthers promptly converted the takeaway into points.
Quarterback Cam Newton engineered a 6-play, 60-yard drive that he culminated with his second rushing touchdown of the game – a 2-yard score on a sneak with just under five minutes left.
Gano missed the point after attempt, leaving Carolina with a one-score lead. But the kick coverage unit came through to help close out the victory.
Sherrod Martin forced Philadelphia's Brandon Boykin to fumble the ensuing kick return, and Gary Barnidge recovered.
The Panthers then moved the ball 35 yards and converted two third downs to run off the final 4:29 that remained, making amends for the 4-minute drill struggles in last week's loss to Tampa Bay.
"Offensively we did the things that we needed to do in the last four minutes," Rivera said.
The Eagles took the early lead thanks to Alex Henery's 36-yard field goal on the game's opening drive, but the Panthers responded with touchdowns on successive possessions.
Carolina efficiently marched downfield in eight plays on its first drive, and tight end Gary Barnidge put the Panthers ahead with a 24-yard touchdown catch – the first of his 5-year career.
Newton initially pump-faked right to wide receiver Brandon LaFell, then spotted Barnidge running free down the seam for the score.
Following a Philadelphia three-and-out on the ensuing possession, Carolina needed just three plays and 43 seconds to find the end zone again.
Cornerback Brandon Boykin blitzed from his nickel position and LaFell was left uncovered down the middle. Newton quickly lofted the ball to his wideout, who ran untouched for a 43-yard touchdown with 3:36 left in the opening quarter.
Henery connected on a 41-yard field goal in the opening minute of the second quarter, cutting the Carolina lead to 14-6.
After the Panthers were forced to punt, Brown escaped down the right sideline on the second play of the possession for a 65-yard touchdown. The Eagles sealed the right side, allowing Brown to burst into the open field. Strong safety Charles Godfrey and cornerback Josh Norman made diving attempts at Brown's ankles near the goal line, but the rookie stayed upright for the score at the 10:56 mark of the second quarter.
The Eagles looked to tie the game with a two-point try, but quarterback Nick Foles' pass was incomplete in the face of pressure, allowing Carolina to momentarily maintain its lead.
Henery later gave Philadelphia a one-point advantage courtesy of a 45-yard field goal with 3:20 remaining in the second quarter, and the Eagles carried the lead into halftime.
The Panthers received the ball to start the second half, and they took advantage.
"One of the challenges all year has been coming out in the second half and getting points on the board," Newton said. "That was one of the goals for this week – getting points on the first drive of the second half."
A clipping penalty on Mike Tolbert during the kick return pushed Carolina back to its own 5-yard line to start the drive, but it didn't matter.
The Panthers marched 95 yards in 11 plays – highlighted by a 55-yard completion to wide receiver Louis Murphy – and Newton leapt across the goal line for a 1-yard touchdown on third-and-goal.
Brown scored his second touchdown of the night moments later, but his second fumble late in the third quarter kick-started the Panthers' late-game flurry.
"Winning is huge. It cures all," Rivera said. "We've got to continue now. We have to take this momentum we have on a short week into Kansas City."