CHARLOTTE – The Panthers defense entered Monday's game against the Philadelphia Eagles with two major objectives.
Number one: Shut down the explosive running game led by All-Pro LeSean McCoy.
Number two: Limit top wide receiver Jeremy Maclin, who entered the game fifth in the NFL in receiving yards.
Carolina accomplished both, yet still suffered a decisive defeat.
"If you don't shut the running game down and handle Maclin, you are going to have a long night," defensive coordinator Sean McDermott said. "The night was long as it was.
"We can't beat ourselves."
The Panthers allowed a season-low 37 rushing yards on 23 carries. That 1.61 yards per carry average is the second-lowest average allowed in Carolina history. Meanwhile, Maclin had just three receptions on seven targets for 38 yards.
But in his first start since 2012, quarterback Mark Sanchez managed to produce without the benefit of a running game or significant contribution from his No. 1 receiver. That's a credit to the Eagles and Sanchez, who found other ways to win, and win handily.
Sanchez completed 20-of-37 passes for 332 yards and two touchdowns. Wide receiver Jordan Matthews caught both touchdowns and had 138 receiving yards. Tight end Brent Celek added five catches for 116 yards.
"You can't take away everything," McDermott said. "You take away the running game and you take away Maclin. If you are going to force a team to beat you, you have to force them to beat you left handed. In some ways, that happened."