Even an eye-catching NFL debut by running back Bryce Brown failed to halt Philadelphia’s downward slide, as the Carolina Panthers beat the nose-diving Eagles 30-22 on Monday.
Brown, a rookie who had never even started in college, lit up the Panthers for 178 yards rushing and two touchdowns, but it was not enough to avoid a seventh successive defeat for the Eagles.
Both National Football Conference teams have disappointing 3-8 records.
The Panthers have seen most of their losses come via late-game mishaps, but Cam Newton made sure there was no such outcome in Philadelphia.
“We wanted to get the momentum back on our side and finish,” the second-year quarterback told reporters. “It means a lot [doing it] on prime-time in front of America. We just have to get our confidence back and finish the season strong.”
Carolina trailed 22-21 in the third, before one of Philadelphia’s three lost fumbles set up a go-ahead field goal by kicker Graham Gano.
Newton took over from there, capping a 60-yard drive in the fourth quarter with a two-yard running score for the winning margin.
Newton had a rare banner day in a tough season as he finished with 306 yards passing, two scores in the air and another two on the ground.
The Eagles played without concussed starters Michael Vick and LeSean McCoy, which opened the door for Brown, who provided some spectacular plays in another Philadelphia loss.
Newton put the Eagles in a hole early with two long touchdown passes in the first quarter that gave the Panthers a 14-3 lead, triggering boos from the Philadelphia crowd.
In the second quarter, Brown exploded onto the scene with a 65-yard scoring run and Philadelphia added two Alex Henery field goals to take a 15-14 edge at halftime.
For all of his head-turning plays, Brown fumbled twice and was also stopped on a fourth-and-one run attempt in the fourth.
“The most important thing for me was for us to get the win and that didn’t happen tonight,” Brown said. “I felt like a lot of that had to do with my two turnovers. It really cost us.”
Philadelphia’s final possession ended with Brandon Boykin fumbling a kickoff return, giving Carolina the ball back and letting them run out the clock, underlining their season so far.