Late game play calling and 3 Cam Newton INT’s drops Carolina to 4-2

The Carolina Panthers dropped to 4-2 on the year against the Philadelphia Eagles 28-23 on Thursday night. They played a close game but couldn’t come out on top and ended up losing their second game of the season.

Trailing by five, the Panthers had driven into Eagles territory and had a first down at the Philadelphia 41 with 3:29 remaining. After a 12 yard catch by Kelvin Benjamin and a 9-yard completion to wide receiver Russell Shepard, Carolina was in Eagles territory, but two incomplete passes on third and fourth down sealed Carolina’s fate.

“The last two plays we didn’t have any timeouts,” head coach Ron Rivera said. “We are trying to get the ball, one to Ed Dickson gets tipped. If it doesn’t get tipped it’s a first down and he probably turns it into an eight or nine-yard gain. Unfortunately, it got tipped. Unfortunately, the second one, yes, we missed an opportunity.”

Questionable Play Calling

Offensive coordinator Mike Shula sent in three plays on the second to last drive that had Newton heaving the ball deep. The first two were incomplete and the third one was picked off by Jalen Mills. This not what we are accustomed to seeing from this offense.

Newton’s third interception of the night appeared to be the result of a miscommunication between Newton and his receivers. The ball sailed in between Kelvin Benjamin and Russell Shepard, who kept his route outside. Taking deep shots with three-plus minutes remaining – when Newton hadn’t completed a deep ball all game – didn’t make sense.

“Turning the ball over, giving them layups for scores… you have to protect the football better – and I’m talking to myself,” Newton said at his presser.

The Run Game a Non-Factor

The questionable play calling I’m sure had to deal with the horrible outcome of yardage from the running backs. Stewart and McCaffrey combined for just 9 rushing yards. Newton had 71 of the 80 yards. McCaffrey did have 10 catches and a receiving touchdown, however, a team that prides itself on the ground needs to do better.

Quick Hits

Kelvin Benjamin and Devin Funchess did well when they had catchable balls thrown their way. Benjamin caught 9 passes and Funchess caught 3, but in the end, the pressure didn’t allow Cam to hit them for scoring plays.

Cam was sacked twice and hit 14 times. In a game where the defense lost their centerpiece, the offensive line needed to step up protect him.


The Panthers will have nine days before taking on the Bears in Chicago.

Nick Wilcox
Entering his fourth year as a sports writer. Highlighting NFL, NBA, MLB, College Football and Basketball.

Follow Nick on Twitter: @Nick_Wilcox25
For more of his stories: