Eagles

Broncos rally past Panthers for 1-point win in NFL season opener

Broncos rally past Panthers for 1-point win in NFL season opener

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DENVER -- Denver's dominant defense came up big against Cam Newton again and the Broncos escaped with a 21-20 victory over the Carolina Panthers Thursday night when Graham Gano missed a 50-yard field goal with 4 seconds remaining.

Newton was sacked three times and clobbered all night long but appeared to have done just enough to get a measure of revenge for that bludgeoning seven months earlier in Super Bowl 50, when Von Miller stripped the ball and the Lombardi Trophy from his grasp.

Newton put the Panthers on the cusp of victory with a 16-yard pass to Kelvin Benjamin at the Denver 37 in the closing seconds, and another short pass to Ted Ginn Jr. put Gano well within his range.

"I was going to drill it, no doubt in my mind," said Gano, who was wide left. "But this happens. It's not going to define my season."

With the stadium rocking, Trevor Siemian trotted out to take a knee in victory formation after his successful first NFL start. Peyton Manning's successor finished 18 of 26 for 178 yards, one TD and two interceptions.

"We've got a heck of a team, a resilient team, I think you saw that tonight," said Siemian, who finished 18 of 26 for 178 yards with one TD, two interceptions and two sacks.

Newton, the NFL's reigning MVP, was 18 of 33 for 194 yards, with one TD and one interception.Just as he did over and over in the Super Bowl, Miller made a big play late, sweeping past right tackle Mike Remmers and sacking Newton.

That set up fourth-and-21 from the Carolina 29 at the 2-minute warning and Newton threw incomplete but got a reprieve: Cornerback Chris Harris Jr., whose interception led to Denver's go-ahead score minutes earlier, was called for illegal use of the hands, giving Carolina a first down.

Some of the hits on Newton pushed the rules.

Safety Darian Stewart's helmet-to-helmet hit in the final minute was negated because Newton, who was slow getting up, was called for intentional grounding on the play. Newton also took an inadvertent hit to the head from Miller on a sack by DeMarcus Ware. The QB went to the sideline and put a towel over his head as trainers checked him out.

The Panthers took a 17-7 led into the fourth quarter of the first Super Bowl rematch to start a season since 1970 but Siemian hit running back C.J. Anderson for a 25-yard touchdown on the next snap.

Newton's next pass was intercepted by Harris at the Carolina 23. Ten plays later, Anderson bulled his way in from the 1 to give Denver its first lead at 21-14 with 9:26 remaining.

After Gano's 36-yard field goal brought the Panthers to 21-20, Carolina forced a three-and-out and got the ball back at its 40 with 3:06 remaining.

Take a knee
Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall, a college teammate of Colin Kaepernick, took to a knee during the playing of the national anthem. Kaepernick refused to stand for the anthem during San Francisco's preseason games, explaining it was to protest racial oppression and police brutality in the United States. It opened a wide debate and put the microscope on a pregame tradition that has, for decades, been routine.

Old times
Manning made his first appearance at Mile High as a retiree, walking through the tunnel with the Lombardi Trophy. Earlier, he attended NFL Kickoff festivities in his role as pitchman for DirecTV, which sent out a video interview in which he was asked about the Broncos QB situation. "It's the most overanalyzed subject in the city," Manning said. "I'm proud to say I have not added to that analysis." He did say he spoke with Siemian on the eve of the opener and told him he was in his corner.

Field flip
Punter Andy Lee, who surrendered a Super Bowl-record 61-yard punt return to Jordan Norwood, pinned the Broncos back with a franchise-record 76-yard punt in the third quarter. His next punt traveled 61 yards.

Fullback fun
Rookie Andy Janovich was brought in to bore holes for Anderson, but he surprised the Panthers with a 28-yard TD run after Denver's first two drives ended in turnovers.

'The Magic of Carson Wentz' gives Eagles a huge win over Washington

'The Magic of Carson Wentz' gives Eagles a huge win over Washington

Carson Wentz had one of the best passing games of his career on Monday night. 

He completed 68 percent of his passes for 268 yards, four touchdowns and had a passer rating of 126.3 in the Eagles' 34-24 win over Washington at the Linc (see breakdown)

Nobody wanted to talk about that though. 

The biggest question his teammates had in the locker room after the game was this: How the heck did he escape on that 17-yard scramble? 

On 3rd-and-8 at the beginning of the fourth quarter, Wentz was seemingly sacked well behind the line of scrimmage. At least everyone thought. But that's when the 6-5, 237-pound quarterback somehow emerged from the pile and scrambled ahead for 17 yards. 

"Amazing," Nelson Agholor said. "We didn't know how he did that. Three, four plays later we are still on the sideline figuring out how he did that."

It seemed like everyone in the stadium thought Wentz was cooked on that play. The crowd didn't even start cheering until much later. Everyone in the stadium seemed pretty confused. 

The Eagles' defensive players even started getting ready to head back into the game. Malcolm Jenkins grabbed his helmet, but then looked at the video screen to see that Wentz was still going. 

"That's the magic of Carson Wentz," Jenkins said. 

Former long snapper and magician Jon Dorenbos was in the building on Monday night — and got a big ovation as he recovers from a serious health issue — but it was Wentz who pulled a rabbit out of his hat. 

"I couldn't believe he got out of that little jam," Brandon Graham said. "He just popped out of nowhere. There's something special going on right now and I'm just happy to be a part of it."

After that Wentz scramble, the Eagles went down the rest of the way and he capped the drive with a touchdown pass to Agholor. That score put them up 31-17 and put the game out of reach for Washington. The Eagles improved to 6-1 and have the best record in the NFL. 

His teammates called it magic, ridiculous and awesome. So how did Wentz escape on that play? 

He didn't know either. 

"I'm not really sure," he said. 

When Wentz wasn't scrambling all over the field — he finished the game with a career-high 64 rushing yards — he was making plays with his arm. 

Before the Arizona game, Wentz had never thrown three touchdowns in a game. He has now done that three games in a row. Before the Arizona game, Wentz had just three games with a passer rating over 100. He now has six. 

Through seven games this season, he has 17 touchdown passes, already surpassing his total from his entire rookie season. He has thrown just four interceptions. 

Before Monday, Wentz was already the Vegas favorite to win MVP. 

He showed why against Washington. 

"That's the type of guy he is, he gets out of trouble, he breaks tackles and he throws dimes," Washington safety D.J. Swearinger said. "He's a great quarterback and he'll be one of the greats for a long time."  

While Wentz's 17-yard scramble was the most-talked-about play after the game, there was a close second. 

The other question was this: How the heck did he see Corey Clement in the end zone?

In the third quarter, with two defenders barreling down on him, Wentz found Clement on the right side of the end zone. Clement was about his third read on the play. 

"He's amazing," Alshon Jeffery said. "On that touchdown to Corey, I'm like, I don't know how he saw him. He must have Spiderman vision. He's great. He does a great job just making plays and seeing guys." 

Head coach Doug Pederson called the touchdown pass "one of the best plays I've seen in a long time." 

Over the last month, Wentz's elevated play has thrust the Eagles into Super Bowl discussions. If he continues like this, that's not a far-fetched scenario. 

It seems like Wentz is just in a zone right now (see Roob's observations)

Does he feel it?

"I feel good," Wentz said. "I do feel good." 

Eagles' rookie class puts on a show in Monday Night Football win

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AP Images

Eagles' rookie class puts on a show in Monday Night Football win

The Eagles' 2017 rookie class was out in force Monday night, and in a huge division showdown on national TV, Derek Barnett, Mack Hollins and Corey Clement helped the best team in football improve to 6-1.

Barnett recorded two sacks and Hollins and Clement both had dramatic touchdown catches in the Eagles' 34-24 win over the Redskins at the Linc (see observations).

Barnett, the first-round pick from Tennessee, became the first Eagle rookie with a two-sack game since Trent Cole in 2005. Hollins' 64-yard TD catch was the longest by an Eagles rookie in 11 years. And Clement's circus TD catch made him the first undrafted Eagles running back in 64 years with two TD catches in a season.

The Eagles have plenty of big-time veteran stars. But this rookie class is looking awfully good right now.

Factor in third-round corner Rasul Douglas, who has played well, and record-setting kicker Jake Elliott, and that's quite a rookie class.

"We just always have a big chip on our shoulder," said Clement, who went undrafted out of Wisconsin. "When we come out here, we are always overlooked by somebody just because we are rookies, but that doesn't mean we can't make a play.

"When we're out there, we try to think and play as veterans. When we walk out there with those guys, like (Brent) Celek and all those other veterans, we want to prove that we belong.

"I don't want anybody second-guessing why we're out there on the field."

Clement was on the receiving end of a miraculous Carson Wentz effort, where he seemed to be swallowed up by the Redskins’ pass rush before floating a TD pass to Clement on a scramble drill. Clement looked like a wide receiver, sticking both feet in the right side of the end zone (see breakdown).

The catch made Clement the first undrafted Eagles rookie running back with two TD catches in a season since Hal Giancanelli in 1953.

Clement had just two touchdown catches in college, but seven games into his NFL career, he's already matched that.

How did he get tagged with the reputation that he can't catch?

"I wish I could tell you," he said. "But everybody's going to say something about somebody. So it's whether you're going to back it up or complain about it, and I chose to back it up."

Hollins and Clement became the first pair of Eagles rookies with TD catches in the same game since Jason Avant and Hank Baskett against the Falcons in 2006. Hollins' 64-yard TD is the longest by an Eagles rookie since Baskett's 89-yarder in that same game.

Hollins, a fourth-round pick out of North Carolina, has been targeted six times this year and has six catches for 134 yards and five first downs.

And then there's Barnett, who had just half a sack in his first six games but broke through with two Monday against a Redskins team that had allowed only eight in its first six games.

Barnett became the first rookie with a two-sack game against the Redskins since Ziggy Ansah of the Lions in 2013.

"Everybody's been telling me just keep grinding and they're going to come," Barnett said. "They all just say keep working and eventually it's going to break. It was a fun night."

Barnett's 2½ sacks are the most by an Eagles rookie defensive end since Brandon Graham had three back in 2010.

"We have a lot of guys who've been playing in the league for a while, and they give me a lot of tips and stuff, and it helps me pick up my game," Barnett said. "I'm very lucky to have those guys in the room to help me."