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Eagles notes, quotes and tidbits: Doug Pederson talks Carson Wentz's end zone dive

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Eagles notes, quotes and tidbits: Doug Pederson talks Carson Wentz's end zone dive

Everyone in the city of Philadelphia held their breath in the second quarter Thursday when Carson Wentz scrambled near the goal line and tried diving into the end zone throwing shoulder first.

Hearts were in throats all across the Delaware Valley as Wentz took on Panthers safety Mike Adams, even though the 6-foot-5, 237-pound Wentz has the size advantage on the 5-foot-11, 205-pound Adams. That's a golden arm at stake.

He was stopped short and threw a touchdown pass on the next play to tie the game 10-10. More importantly, he wasn't injured.

"Well, at the time, I thought he was going to score, quite honestly," Pederson said. "You don't really want your starting quarterback to lead with your throwing shoulder, but I understand, too, the situation, and him trying to get in the end zone. There was a lane at the time, but in this league, everything closed fast. Could he have gone lower? Sure. But at the same time, I think he just saw the end zone and was trying to get in."

Pederson, when asked, said plays like that and when he stands in and delivers the ball with a blitz coming at him, resonate with teammates. They appreciate his toughness and will to win.

Lazy Sunday
As you watch football games from your living room this weekend, know the Eagles are probably doing the same thing.

After Thursday night's huge win over Carolina and with their next game not until next Monday night, the Eagles are in what's almost like a little bye week.

Doug Pederson gave his players and coaches the entire weekend off. While the injured players stuck around this weekend to get treatment, the others were free to go and do whatever they want.

Pederson said he wanted them to get away and "think about the first six weeks." Those are going to be some happy thoughts. The Eagles are 5-1 and look like the best team in the NFC.

The Eagles were going to start looking at film of Washington Friday night, but they weren't planning on taking a deep dive into the division opponent until after Sunday.

Players will start reporting back to the NovaCare Complex on Monday and the team will have a light 10/10/10 practice Tuesday. The real week of practice doesn't begin until Thursday, which will be like a normal Wednesday. With the Monday Night Football game, the Eagles just push everything back one day.

"We've got three really good, exciting games coming up before our official bye [week], all at home," Pederson said. "So it will be an exciting week. Looking forward to it."

Barnett gets his first sack
Sort of.

Derek Barnett was able to hold onto Cam Newton's leg for dear life in the fourth quarter before Justin Hamilton came and took Newton down. The seven-yard sack was split between the two players, neither of whom had an NFL sack coming into the game.

"Cam's a big dude," Barnett said. "He was trying to get out. And he almost did."

Barnett hasn't been producing the way fans probably hoped for his rookie season. The all-time sack leader at the University of Tennessee and the 14th overall pick has gotten close but didn't get one until Thursday.

Does he think this first half sack will open up the floodgates?

"I mean, I feel good rushing the last few weeks," Barnett said. "I just have to keep being critical of myself. My coaches and teammates have to be critical of me, too. It's just getting more reps and stuff and everything will slow down for me. But I feel confident rushing and stuff. I just have to become smarter and when I get at the top of my rushes, learn what to do and what not to do. I just have to keep grinding. The best thing about coming to work is that everybody is pushing each other. It's fun coming into work and getting better."

In the locker room after the win, plenty of his teammates were ribbing Barnett about his first sack. He couldn't help but smile when he heard some of it. Hopefully, for the Eagles, there will be plenty more sacks to come for him.

A numbers game
The Eagles are 5-1. That means they have a really good shot of making the playoffs, but nothing is a done deal.

Before this season, there have been 225 teams in NFL history to win five of their first six games. Of them, 173 have made the playoffs. That means there's a 76.9 percent success rate. Those are pretty good odds. But you'll remember, the 2014 Eagles started the season 5-1 and failed to make it into the playoffs.

Pederson now has to make sure his players don't think they've accomplished everything yet.

"It's tough. It's a fine line because the players are — they're going to read and they're going to listen to all the media outlets on TV and stuff and just hear how people are talking about them and saying how good and how great they are," he said. "But [we have] to keep it real, too. That comes from me. Yeah, we're winning these games, but there is a lot to fix, a lot to correct as well. It's never perfect. [The] bottom line [is] we do want to win the game, but at the same time, I've got to keep them focused and grounded on — even some of the situational stuff still.

"We've got to eliminate the big play on defense. We've got to get better in the red zone on offense, and just keep working in those areas. We weren't as good on third down last night, so we've got to keep working that area. So just keeping them focused and detailed on those specific areas."

Best quotes from after Thursday's game
"It was tough. Maybe Carolina had a little bit of help tonight, them being at home. But we were able to overcome it; that was the most important part." — Rodney McLeod

"He was like, 'Man, I don't know who you is, but you a beast. And I'm like, 'You don't know who I am? You must not know football. But you know me today.'" — Nigel Bradham on his interaction with a Panthers player

"S---, it felt good. It felt like he's back to his normal self. Dominating, doing what he do." — Tim Jernigan on getting Fletcher Cox back

Random media guide note: Halapoulivaati Vaitai says the strangest thing he likes to eat is octopus.

Fletcher Cox back to his dominating ways as Eagles win showdown

Fletcher Cox back to his dominating ways as Eagles win showdown

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Last June, the Eagles handed Fletcher Cox a six-year, $102.6 million extension. 

He was worth every penny on Thursday night.

After missing two games with a calf injury, Fletcher Cox wasn't just active for the Eagles' 28-23 road win over the Panthers (see 10 observations). He was dominant. 

"S---, it felt good," his fellow defensive tackle Tim Jernigan said. "It felt like he's back to his normal self. Dominating, doing what he do."

Cox came into Thursday night as a game-time decision — he had missed two straight games and hadn't played since leaving the Giants game — but after testing out his calf during pregame warmups, the Eagles decided to play him. 

If Cox was healthy enough to play, he was going to play in Thursday's battle of 4-1 teams. 

"He was playing," head coach Doug Pederson said. "There was no way I could sit him tonight. This was too important of a game."

With Cox's help, the Eagles improved to 5-1 and have the best record in the entire NFC. Without Cox, that would have been much harder on Thursday night. 

The Pro Bowl defensive tackle finished with two tackles, half a sack, two quarterback hits and one pass defensed (see breakdown). More importantly, he was an absolute force inside. The same force the Eagles have come to expect from him over the last few years. 

"It felt good just to be back out there, to be back with my teammates," Cox said. "Felt pretty good and went out and finished the ballgame, which was the most important thing."

Cox's biggest play of the game came in the second quarter when the Panthers were clinging to a 10-3 lead. On 3rd-and-5, Cox looked like he had Carolina right guard Trai Turner on roller skates. Cox pushed the 315-pound guard like he was a bundle of feathers right into Cam Newton's lap. 

That forced a bad throw that was intercepted by Rasul Douglas (see rookie report). The Eagles scored a touchdown seven plays later to tie the game at 10-10. 

"I just bulled the guard into the quarterback's lap and went after the throwing arm," Cox said. "I actually thought it was a strip but I turned around and saw Rasul get the ball. Every play is a big play, especially plays like that."

Cox thought he got a strip sack, while Chris Long was on the field and thought he got a good enough jump to maybe get a sack of his own. 

But Cox beat him to the quarterback.

"Of course, Fletch is just bullying the guard," Long said, "And he's just that type of game-changing player. He can absolutely alter every play on the field."

Cox was a big reason why Newton threw three interceptions on Thursday and he was a big reason why the Panthers had just nine rushing yards that didn't come from their quarterback. 

The thing is, the Eagles' defensive line actually played pretty well in the last two weeks without Cox. Beau Allen filled in and did a fine job. Jernigan started to play at another level. And the rotation seemed to work. 

But they didn't have Cox. And he's almost impossible to replace. 

"He's so dominating in there, pushing the pocket, run and pass, and it was great to have him out there tonight," Pederson said. "He's another one of those leaders on the team that you lean on. He battled through his injury, put that aside for the team tonight and did an outstanding job."

Eagles 28, Panthers 23: Studs, duds, turning point and more

Eagles 28, Panthers 23: Studs, duds, turning point and more

BOX SCORE

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. 

Turning point 
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. 

Key stat
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. 

Offensive stud
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. 

Offensive dud
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. 

Defensive stud
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. 

Defensive dud
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).

Key plays
• 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. 

Injuries
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. 

Up next
The Eagles have a long layoff before hosting Washington on Monday Night Football on Oct. 23 at the Linc.