CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Birds are for real.
And after Thursday night, they're the best team in the NFC.
The Eagles went on the road on a short week and took down a very good Panthers team led by a former MVP in a hostile Bank of America Stadium. They won, 28-23, and sent a bunch of Panthers fans home upset.
Through six games, this is clearly the best win of the season so far for the Eagles.
With the win, the Eagles are 5-1 and have the best record in the NFC. The Panthers fell to 4-2.
Carson Wentz started off Thursday night a little shaky but really dialed in during the second half to help the Eagles come away with a W (see 10 observations).
And the Eagles' defense gave up some points but still did its job. Jim Schwartz's unit stopped the Panthers twice late in the fourth quarter when the home team had a chance to drive down the field and win. The last stop came on a 4th-and-1 from near midfield.
Patrick Robinson's interception came off a tipped ball. He was somehow able to pull the ball in and give the Eagles the ball on the Panthers' 17-yard line. Wentz hit Zach Ertz for a touchdown and then the Eagles converted a two-point conversion to go up by eight. They never trailed again.
The Eagles were penalized 10 times for 126 yards, while the Panthers were hit with one flag for one yard. The 126 penalty yards are the most the Eagles have had in a game since 2007. But they overcame it (see Gunn's bullet points).
This was the first time in NFL history one team had over 120 penalty yards while the other had less than nine.
Wentz started off slow but ended up heating up in the second half some and did enough for the Eagles to win (see report card).
Ertz didn't have a volume game but got two more touchdowns and has tied his career high of four. And he's done it in the first six weeks of the season.
The Eagles need to get Lane Johnson back. While Halapoulivaati Vaitai settled down, he gave up an early sack to Julius Peppers and just simply isn't as good.
Kenjon Barner also didn't have a very good game when he did get chances.
Fletcher Cox was back after missing two games and was a beast (see story). He's just clearly the Eagles' best defensive player and is an absolute game-wrecker.
Nigel Bradham also had a nice game. He had a huge pass breakup and tackle for loss in the first half and continued his assault on the Panthers in the second (see story).
Robinson also had a few big plays, including his second-half INT.
Rasul Douglas was beaten on Newton's rushing touchdown and dropped what should have been an interception late in the fourth quarter (see rookie report).
• The Eagles stopped the Panthers on a 4th-and-1 near midfield inside two minutes left to play to seal the win.
• Newton and the Panthers were driving when the Eagles brought pressure and Newton sailed a ball. Jalen Mills came down with it.
• The Eagles were called for a huge unnecessary roughness against Derek Barnett in the fourth quarter. There was a delay of game against the Panthers but Barnett came in and decked Newton. Apparently there either wasn't a whistle or he didn't hear it.
The Panthers kept their drive alive and Newton hit Christian McCaffrey for a touchdown to cut into the Eagles' lead, 28-23.
• Wentz found Nelson Agholor for a 24-yard touchdown across the middle to put the Eagles up, 28-16. Wentz made a couple beautiful plays on the drive to keep it going.
• The Eagles and Panthers swapped a pair of field goals to make the score 21-16 in the third.
• After Mills was flagged for a big defensive pass interference, the Eagles’ defense let the Panthers get down to its 5-yard line but held up and the Panthers settled for a 20-yard field goal to cut into the lead, 18-13.
• Robinson made a spectacular interception on a third down to give the Eagles the ball on the Carolina 17-yard line. A few plays later, Wentz hit Ertz for a 17-yard touchdown to take a lead.
After an illegal formation on the Panthers on an extra point, Doug Pederson decided to go for a two-point conversion and LeGarrette Blount punched it in to give the Eagles an 18-10 lead.
• Cox and Brandon Graham met at the quarterback to bring down Newton for a seven-yard loss. That pretty much thwarted the Panthers' final drive of the first half and sent the game into the second half tied, 10-10.
• After the Eagles got the ball on the Panthers' 12-yard line, they took seven plays and nearly four minutes, but finally got a touchdown to tie the game, 10-10, when Wentz hit Ertz in the back of the end zone.
• Cox absolutely imposed his will on a third down in the second quarter. He put his man on roller skates, got a QB hit on Newton and forced the ball to flutter in the air. Douglas was there to pull it down for his second-career INT. It gave the Eagles the ball on the Panthers' 12-yard line.
• Newton had a brilliant 16-yard rushing touchdown early in the second quarter to put the Panthers up, 10-3. The play fake worked and then Newton got Douglas all turned around.
• Jordan Hicks had a big run stuff on 3rd-and-2 that forced the Panthers to kick a 39-yard field goal to tie the game, 3-3, instead of picking up the first down and possibly the lead.
• Wentz hit Trey Burton for a third-down conversion on the Eagles' second drive of the game and Jake Elliott hit a 50-yard field goal to put the Eagles up, 3-0. It was Elliott's ninth straight make.
• Peppers went around Vaitai to pick up a strip sack on the first drive of the game. Not a good start for "Big V" as Wentz fumbled the ball away. The Eagles' defense forced a quick three-and-out to pick up the offense.
Hicks left the game with an ankle injury and didn't return for the second half. He had an ankle injury earlier this season; he left the Giants game at halftime. Joe Walker took over at the middle linebacker spot.
Bradham left the game in the third quarter after making a tackle but returned later in the third. Graham (shoulder) left briefly, too, but also returned.
Chris Maragos (knee) left the game late.
Johnson (concussion) and Wendell Smallwood (knee) both missed Thursday's game. They'll have some extra days to heal thanks to playing on Thursday night.
The Eagles have a long layoff before hosting Washington on Monday Night Football on Oct. 23 at the Linc.