Jalen Hurts showcased to the Philadelphia Eagles why he deserves to be the franchise quarterback with the first fourth-quarter comeback of his career. The Eagles, dormant against the Carolina Panthers for the majority of three quarters, outscored the Panthers 15-3 in the final 16 minutes to steal a 21-18 victory in Charlotte.
Hurts finished just 22 for 37 for 198 yards, but rushed for the two Eagles touchdowns in the final 16 minutes that paced Philadelphia to the victory. On the final four possessions, Hurts finished 5 of 10 for 105 yards with five carries for 28 yards and two touchdowns to help the Eagles erase a nine-point, first-half deficit.
The Eagles offense was ineffective in the 11 possessions prior to the comeback attempt, as the Panthers' defense held them to just 81 yards late into the third quarter. Three of the Eagles' points came off a Sam Darnold interception via Darius Slay, who took the return to the Panthers' 10-yard line. The Eagles had a fourth-and-goal touchdown by DeVonta Smith called back thanks to an offensive pass interference penalty by Greg Ward, which forced them to settle for a field goal. A 58-yard field goal by Jake Elliott just prior to the half were the Eagles' other points, showing how inept the offense was before the comeback.
Carolina had opportunities to put Philadelphia away, but the Panthers could just muster eight points over the final three quarters -- two from the defense via a safety. Darnold threw three interceptions, including one to Steve Nelson with the Panthers at their own 35-yard line driving to tie the game with 1:57 left. Darnold finished just 21 of 37 for 177 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions (44.5 rating in the loss).
Philadelphia didn't lead in the game until Hurts had a 6-yard touchdown run with 2:38 left. The Eagles actually outgained the Panthers 273-267 despite being dominated for three quarters.
Here are the takeaways from this one, and a recap of the game is in our live blog below!
Why the Eagles won
Defense ruled the day in Philadelphia, an unexpected twist after the Eagles allowed 40 points in consecutive weeks. The Eagles didn't face an elite quarterback and took advantage, getting three interceptions off Darnold -- two by Darius Slay -- on the afternoon.
Philadelphia finished with three sacks and seven quarterback hits, getting pressure in Darnold's face throughout the afternoon. They held Carolina to 267 yards, but the Panthers earned just 182 yards after the first quarter -- scoring just six points. Philadelphia held Carolina to just 3.3 yards per play in the final three quarters, setting the stage for Hurts to complete the comeback for the victory.
In addition, special teams stepped up as TJ Edwards earned the first blocked punt for the Eagles since 2017. A candidate for "play of the game," Edwards' block set up the Eagles for the win when they were trailing 18-13 late in the fourth quarter.
Why the Panthers lost
Darnold struggled against an aggressive Eagles defense that took chances and forced him to throw the ball under pressure. Carolina's offense just couldn't move the ball as Darnold threw three interceptions that kept Philadelphia in the game. Darnold missed a big throw to Robby Anderson in the second quarter that would have essentially put the Eagles away, but Avonte Maddox broke up the pass and kept Carolina from scoring a touchdown.
The Panthers averaged just 4 yards per attempt, despite having the ball 35 minutes. Darnold and the Panthers ended up with 158 net passing yards. The Panthers quarterback needs to be better if Carolina wants to contend for the playoffs.
The Eagles' offense couldn't get anything going through three quarters until Quez Watkins provided the catch of the game -- the spark Philadelphia's offense needed. On a third-and-10 from the Eagles own 37-yard line, Hurts took a shot to Watkins on a X-post route that was right on the money to the speedy wideout. Watkins recorded a 53-yard reception on the pass, one which Hurts took a shot as soon as he threw the ball.
The Eagles were trailing 15-6 when Watkins caught that pass. Hurts rushed for a touchdown two plays later to cut the lead to 15-13, setting the stage up for his comeback in the fourth quarter.
Play of the game
There are a few plays the Eagles made in this one, but Nelson's interception on Darnold with 1:57 to go preserved Philadelphia's lead and allowed them to run out the clock and sealed the victory.
Nelson read Darnold's pass intended for Anderson and jumped the route to get the turnover the Eagles defense needed. Darnold had the clean pocket, but give credit to Nelson for shadowing Anderson and knowing where Darnold's eyes were going.
Two plays earlier, Nelson allowed a third-and-15 pass to go for 25 yards and extend the drive. The Eagles cornerback got some much-needed redemption, part of a very good day for Eagles defensive backs.
"He's all bite, no bark. He talks it and he walks it. And that's encouraging to see from your QB." -- Eagles tackle Jordan Mailata on Hurts.
Hurts has established himself as the leader in the Eagles' locker room, leading Philadelphia to the first fourth-quarter comeback of his career. Hurts willed the Eagles to victory in a performance that wasn't impressive on the stat sheet, but earns a victory -- which is what he's been seeking.
The Eagles (2-3) have a short week as they play host to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-1) on "Thursday Night Football." The Panthers (3-2) will look to regroup against the Minnesota Vikings (2-3) at home next Sunday.