Jon Gruden put it best when he said that this game was basically a pre-season game. The Eagles fans did not show up and fill the stands like they normally do, which is especially odd seeing as how this was a Monday Night Football game. On offense, the Eagles were playing with only four of their original eleven starters from opening day. This is no excuse for why they lost the game. In fact, their offense was arguably much better than it has been for a majority of the season. The Eagles ran the football, and they ran it a lot. Bryce Brown racked up 179 yards in his first start, plus two touchdowns (one of them of 65 yards). He did fumble twice but that was not what costed the Eagles this game. What did was the Brandon Boykin fumble on special teams and their defense.
Before getting into how badly the Eagles defense is, it is appropriate to give credit where credit is due. Cam Newton played one of the best games of his career throwing for 305 yards and two touchdowns, plus he ran it in for two more scores against a defense that had only allowed three rushing touchdowns on the year. Louis Murphy made an outstanding grab on a 56 yard pitch and catch at the beginning of the third quarter. Brandon LaFell and Ben Hartstock each had two long receiving touchdowns via seam route patterns and some busted coverage. Ah yes, busted coverage… what a perfect transition to this next topic. Remember when Nnamdi Asomugha intercepted Matthew Stafford in Week 6? Well it might seem like ancient history by now since that was indeed over a month ago. This was the last time the Eagles defense created a turnover. If there is one reason why the Eagles have not won more than three games this year it is because their defense has only made seven turnovers all year (which is dead last in the NFL) and they are not pressuring the quarterback. That is a recipe for disaster. Not to mention the fact that they cannot make a stop when they need to the most. They also embarrassed themselves with three neutral-zone/offside penalties on a drive where they needed to hold the Panthers to a field goal.
This was an ugly loss for the Eagles. At this point in the season both of these teams were fighting for pride Monday night. The Eagles are torn by injuries but it is the defense that is their downfall. Earlier this year when the offense was struggling, their defense was bailing them out in the end. Now they have lost a step and are getting walked all over by anybody who plays with them. Things will get worse when they play the Dallas Cowboys next week who will need this game. The Panthers and Ron Rivera can take a heavy sigh of relief after this nice team win. Their defense was not all that bad and their offense was phenomenal.