(Reuters) - The Philadelphia Eagles jumped all over a clumsy Carolina Panthers early to provide the platform for a dominant 45-21 triumph on Monday, giving quarterback Mark Sanchez a win in his first Eagles start.
The Panthers committed two turnovers on their first three plays from scrimmage via a fumble and interception to set the tone for an inept road display.
The defense and special teams units joined the offense in scoring points for the Eagles, who were as good as Carolina was bad, with the final scoreline flattering the Panthers thanks to some late touchdowns.
The win consolidated Philadelphia’s place at the top of the NFC East at 7-2, while the Panthers missed a chance to leapfrog New Orleans for the NFC South lead, losing their fourth straight game to drop to 3-6-1.
Sanchez, getting his first start for the injured Nick Foles after his move from the New York Jets in the off-season, threw for 332 yards and two touchdowns, while running back Darren Sproles and wide receiver Jordan Matthews both scored twice.
Carolina quarterback Cam Newton had a night to forget as he was battered by the Eagles, getting sacked nine times, five in the opening half, while throwing three interceptions and fumbling twice.
After a Cody Parker field goal and Sproles eight-yard rushing touchdown set the Eagles on course in the opening three-and-a-half minutes, the Panthers hit back with a Jonathan Stewart touchdown to close to 10-7.
The Eagles then took off.
Sproles split them open with a dynamic 65-yard punt return for a touchdown before Sanchez connected with Matthews for a 13-yard score and a 24-7 lead.
Cornerback Bradley Fletcher joined the party with a 34-yard interception return as the home side surged to a 31-7 halftime advantage.
LeSean McCoy went over untouched from a yard early in the second half and Matthews found his way in from 18 yards in the fourth quarter to stretch to 45-7 before a pair of late Kelvin Benjamin consolation touchdowns capped the scoring.
Writing by Ben Everill in Los Angeles; Editing by John O'Brien