Nov 10, 2014 11:08 PM
Defense, special teams help Eagles take 38-7 lead
The Associated Press
PHILADELPHIA (AP) Darren Sproles had two touchdowns and the defense dominated Cam Newton to help the Philadelphia Eagles take a 38-7 lead over the Carolina Panthers after three quarters Monday night.
Sproles returned a punt 65 yards for a scored and had an 8-yard TD run. Bradley Fletcher returned an interception 34 yards for a TD and Conor Barwin had 3 of Philadelphia's seven sacks.
Mark Sanchez tossed a 13-yard TD pass to Jordan Matthews in his first start since Dec. 30, 2012. Sanchez replaced Nick Foles, who broke his collarbone in Philadelphia's win at Houston last week.
The Eagles (6-2) are looking to stay on top in the NFC East. Carolina (3-5-1) is trying to snap a three-game losing streak.
Newton threw the first off three interceptions and DeAngelo Williams lost a fumble on Carolina's first three plays from scrimmage.
Sanchez, who threw for 202 yards and two TDs after replacing Foles in the first half at Houston, had 268 yards passing.
The Panthers hardly look like the team that won the NFC South last year. They've lost three in a row and already have allowed more points in 10 games than they did in 2013.
Making things worse, Panthers defensive tackle Star Lotulelei was carted off the field late in the third quarter.
The Eagles built a 10-0 lead off the Carolina's early turnovers.
Casey Matthews, starting for injured linebacker DeMeco Ryans, forced Williams' fumble and Cedric Thornton recovered at the Panthers 22. Cody Parkey hit a 39-yarder to make it 3-0.
Cary Williams then intercepted Newton on Carolina's next offensive play. It was the first pick by an Eagles cornerback this season.
Sanchez completed passes of 15 yards to Jeremy Maclin and 21 yards to Brent Celek to set up Sproles' score. Sproles took a handoff and ran off the left side untouched.
The Panthers answered on their ensuing possession. Newton connected with Greg Olsen on a 38-yard pass and converted a pair of third-down passes to keep the drive going. Jonathan Stewart jumped over the top from the 1 to cut it to 10-7.
Sproles broke loose up the middle, deked punter Brad Nortman and cut to the right sideline on his way to his second punt return for a score this season and fourth in his career, giving the Eagles a 17-7 lead.
Fletcher stepped in front of a poor pass intended for Jason Avant and ran it back to put the Eagles up 31-7. LeSean McCoy ran in from the 1 to make it 38-7.
The Eagles already have a franchise-record nine touchdowns on defense and special teams.
AP NFL websites: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP_NFL
Follow Rob Maaddi on Twitter: https://twitter.com/AP_RobMaaddi