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What We Learned: Panthers vs. Eagles

SPECIAL NIGHT FOR STEWART: The Panthers' first offensive snap showed what kind of night running back Jonathan Stewart intended to have. The Panthers' second snap sent him on his way.

Stewart dragged what seemed like the entire Philadelphia defense with him for a 9-yard gain to open the game.

"I think Stew broke 400 tackles tonight," tight end Greg Olsen said.

On the next snap, Stewart ran away rather than through the defense, steaming around the left side for a 36-yard gain to jumpstart an opening touchdown drive and his season-high effort of 125 yards on 24 carries.

"We've got incredible backs, and Coach (Mike) Shula is an incredible play caller," center Ryan Kalil said. "We liked the game plan all week against these guys with what we wanted to do in the run game, and we executed it.

"Stew ran his tail off. He's a really good back, and it's fun blocking for him."

SPECIAL SCORES FOR TOLBERT: Mike Tolbert's 2-yard touchdown reception encapsulated who he is as a player. The powerful yet nimble fullback caught a pass in the flat and bounced off a hit from safety Malcolm Jenkins. He was knocked back a few yards but gained his balance and juked past cornerback Byron Maxwell before dragging two more Eagles across the goal line.

What did that one play say about him?

"I'm competitive," Tolbert said. "I've got a lot fight. I like the grit, the grind and the hard part about football."

Tolbert recorded his first two touchdowns of the season against the Eagles. His first came on a 2-yard run to give Carolina a 7-0 lead in the first quarter.

"I just wanted to score," he said. "And just look up to the sky for my uncle that passed away Thursday."

LACK OF SACKS: In Carolina's lopsided loss last year at Philadelphia, the Eagles sacked quarterback Cam Newton nine times – including 3.5 sacks from linebacker Connor Barwin.

Sunday, the Eagles sacked Newton just once, and Barwin didn't have any sacks and just two tackles.

"Honestly, there wasn't too much talk about the sacks last year," guard Trai Turner said. "It was just the fact that we wanted to go out there and show everybody that we deserve to be in the position that we are."

Newton, notorious for escaping the pocket and turning sacks into near-sacks, didn't even have to do anything of the sort Sunday. He ran the ball just four times for 20 yards, highlighted by a 2-yard touchdown run and a 16-yard gallop on a run play designed for him straight up the middle.

DAVIS' UNIQUE ABILITY ON DISPLAY: If you crossed Thomas Davis' path Sunday night, you were going to pay the price. The Carolina linebacker was delivering a massive hit seemingly every series and finished with a game-high 13 tackles.

"Thomas is very vital to what we are doing," head coach Ron Rivera said.

Added cornerback Josh Norman: "You can see that fire and that drive. He's always playing fast. That's what you get from Thomas Davis."

The thunderous hits were eye-popping, but Davis' most impressive play came when he was one-on-one with slippery Eagles running back Darren Sproles, who caught a pass in the flat on third-and-6 late in the first half. Davis used his athleticism to corral Sproles and bring him down for a loss.

"He made some really big tackles. Probably one of the best ones he made was in the open field against Sproles," Rivera said.

SAME INJURY, DIFFERENT OUTCOME: Linebacker Luke Kuechly and defensive end Mario Addison both suffered shoulder injuries in the second half, but Addison got the worst of it.

Addison, who had a sack early in the game, went down on a pass rush midway through the third quarter with what Rivera termed a sprain. After the game, Rivera was already prepared to say Addison was "very doubtful" for the Panthers' next game against the Indianapolis Colts on Monday Night Football.

Kuechly left the game midway through the fourth quarter when he tweaked his shoulder making a diving arm tackle on running back DeMarco Murray. Kuechly sat out two plays before returning.

"He landed on his shoulder and gave himself a little bit of a sore shoulder," Rivera said. "He should be fine. He went back in and played very well."

Senior writer Bryan Strickland and staff writer Max Henson contributed to this report.


View game action photos from Carolina's 27-16 win over Philadelphia.


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