(The Sports Xchange) - Fullback Mike Tolbert scored two touchdowns, and the Carolina Panthers defeated the Philadelphia Eagles 27-16 Sunday night to get off to the best start in franchise history.
The Panthers, who played their first home game in nearly a month, are 6-0 for the first time. Their previous best season-opening winning streak lasted five games in 2003.
The Eagles (3-4) had a two-game winning streak end. Trailing by eight late in the game, the Eagles punted with 7:07 remaining and then turned the ball over on downs with 1:56 left.
Tolbert scored on a 2-yard run to open the scoring and added a 2-yard reception on the first possession of the second half. On his second scoring play, he bounced off a would-be tackler and regained his balance before bullying his way to the end zone.
Philadelphia got within 21-13 after running back Ryan Mathews’ 63-yard touchdown run with 9:32 left in the third quarter.
The Eagles pulled closer after cornerback Byron Maxwell grabbed the team’s third interception of the night and returned it 22 yards to the Carolina 18. Philadelphia settled for kicker Caleb Sturgis’ third field goal, a 24-yarder.
Sturgis missed from 50 yards early in the fourth quarter.
Carolina kicker Graham Gano booted a 35-yard field goal with 9:04 left, pushing the edge to 24-16. His 29-yarder with 19 seconds to play clinched the outcome.
Panthers quarterback Cam Newton completed 14 of 24 passes for 197 yards and one touchdown, but he was picked off three times.
Carolina running back Jonathan Stewart gained 125 yards on 24 carries.
Eagles quarterback Sam Bradford completed 26 of 46 passes for 205 yards and an interception. It was in his first visit to Charlotte since he sustained a torn anterior cruciate ligament while playing for the St. Louis Rams in a 2013 game.
Mathews gained 97 yards on six carries.
Carolina had two four-play touchdown drives in the first half and held a 14-6 lead at the break.
The Panthers drove 72 yards in four plays on their first possession, with Tolbert scoring on a 2-yard run. That continued the brisk offensive execution from the waning moments of the comeback victory a week earlier at Seattle.
On the next snap, safety Colin Jones intercepted a pass mishandled by Eagles wide receiver Jordan Matthews. That gave the Panthers the ball at the Philadelphia 21.
The next play resulted in an interception for Eagles cornerback Nolan Carroll, who wrestled the ball away from Panthers wide receiver Ted Ginn Jr.
The Eagles didn’t score until Caleb Sturgis’ 52-yard field goal with 5:42 left in the second quarter.
Carolina answered with Newton’s 2-yard touchdown run completing a quick 60-yard march. The big play was Ginn’s 43-yard pickup on a reverse, followed by a pair of offside penalties on the Eagles.
After Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins intercepted Newton at the Carolina 39, Sturgis tacked on a 29-yard field goal with four seconds left in the half.
Eagles offensive tackle Jason Peters was taken from the field on a cart after sustaining a lower-back injury in the first quarter, and he didn’t return to action. At 33 years old, he is the oldest non-specialist on the Philadelphia roster.
Editing by Sudipto Ganguly