Eagles rookie quarterback Nick Foles avoided turnovers while leading the Eagles to a 22-21 lead late in the third quarter over the Carolina Panthers Monday Night.
But the M.O. of one of the worst teams in the NFL came to light as fellow rookie Bryce Brown fumbled the ball (one of his two fumbles) to lead to a Panthers fourth quarter go-ahead field goal and the Eagles defense committed three-straight off-sides penalties en route to allowing Cam Newton’s second rushing touchdown to put Carolina up eight.
The Birds still had a chance as Brandon Boykin dashed for a 44-yard return to put the Eagles in good position to tie the game but the rookie fumbled to give the ball right back to Newton. The Eagles defense then allowed Newton to convert two third downs to run out the clock.
Panthers 30, Eagles 22.
The loss was an Andy Reid-era record seventh straight and guaranteed the 3-8 Eagles will have their second consecutive non-winning season.
The Eagles have gone so long since their last win over the Giants on Sept. 30 that, as the guys on Monday Night Football pointed out, the Phillies have won (Oct. 1 over the Nationals) since the Eagles last won.
Foles, making his second-career start, played decent as he completed 16-of-21 passes for 119 yards and no turnovers (an 89.2 passer rating) though a few passes should have been picked. He also lost one of his top target DeSean Jackson to a sternum injury in the first quarter -- X-rays were negative.
Foles’ rookie teammate Brown impressed as he ran for 178 yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries in his first career start. But he spoiled the impressive fill-in performance for LeSean McCoy as he fumbled twice including the critical late-game mistake.
On the defensive side of the ball the Eagles secondary was gashed for some big plays by Newton including a 55-yard bomb to Louis Murphy and a 43-yard touchdown pass to Brandon LaFell. In the end Newton threw for 306 yards and two scores on 18-of-28 passing (a 125.0 passer rating). Newton also ran 15 times for 52 yards and two TDs.
The only real bright spot on the Eagles defense was DeMeco Ryans who had 10 tackles including one for a loss.
Another key for the Eagles Monday night, as they played in front of a stadium far from full, was time of possession in large part due to the turnovers and lack of big defensive stops. The Panthers held the ball for 10:24 longer than the Eagles.
It's also worth questioning Reid's coaching decision to go for two after the Eagles cut the deficit to 14-12 early in the second quarter.
There is silver lining though: the loss drops the Eagles to the third-worst record in the NFL as the Eagles look towards a potential Top-5 pick for their likely new regime next season.