What It Means
I, like most of the 70,000-plus at Bank of America Stadium and many more watching elsewhere, have no clue what the Panthers were doing with a chance to pull ahead Thursday night.
Trailing the Eagles 28-23, Carolina was at Philadelphia's 41-yard line with a fresh set of downs and 3:29 to go. That's when quarterback Cam Newton took three shots downfield.
The first was nearly intercepted. The second was a prayer to Christian McCaffrey in the end zone. The third was intercepted.
The Panthers got the ball back for one final chance, but their penultimate drive was the key #missedopportunity.
Carolina is now 4-2 and out of first place in the NFC South – at least temporarily. The 3-1 Falcons host the Dolphins this weekend.
The Panthers now have a mini-bye before two straight road trips. They'll follow their Week 7 game at Chicago with a visit to Tampa Bay.
—Linebacker Luke Kuechly exited late in the second quarter after he took a hard block from G Brandon Brooks in the left shoulder/head area. Because Kuechly jogged back to the locker room, there was hope he had just banged up his shoulder, but the Panthers later announced he was in the concussion protocol. It was less than 11 months ago when Kuechly was carted off the field during Thursday Night football with the second concussion of his career and this news was something Panthers fans had feared since that night.
—Running back Fozzy Whittaker had his right ankle rolled up on while he was getting tackled on a carry late in the first quarter. He was carted back to the locker room and watched the second half on crutches and in a walking boot.
—The Eagles sure took advantage of Kuechly's absence. Zach Ertz, who leads NFL tight ends in receptions and receiving yards, was held without a catch until Kuechly left. Ertz then caught two touchdowns in areas where Kuechly may have been covering.
—With a sack on the Eagles' first drive, defensive end Julius Peppers became the first NFL player with at least 150 sacks and 10 interceptions.
—The Eagles came in leading the league with 41 points scored in the first quarter, so kudos to Carolina's defense for holding the visitors to a field goal. But the Panthers' offense had another uninspiring start, finishing the opening quarter with just a 39-yard Graham Gano field goal. They've scored just one touchdown in the first quarter this season and that came in Week 1.
—Strange decision by Ron Rivera at the end of the first half. Instead of letting Gano try a 58-yard field goal attempt, Rivera kept his offense on the field for what turned out to be a failed pass to tight end Ed Dickson. Why not give it a go with Gano, whose career long is a 59-yarder? With :05 left, there wasn't much to lose.
—The Panthers had nowhere to run for a second straight week. Well, everyone except Newton. He gained 71 yards on 11 carries. The rest of the Panthers totaled nine yards on 14 carries. The Eagles were the league's second-best defense against the run, but it's now time to be appropriately concerned.