Panthers Claw Eagles

It took a visit from the NFC's least-productive offense to snap the Carolina Panthers out of their defensive doldrums.

After forcing just five turnovers all season, the Panthers matched that total Sunday against Philadelphia and converted the Eagles' miscues into 20 points on the way to a 33-7 victory.

"We needed to get one of these," said Carolina cornerback Eric Davis, who forced one of Philadelphia's four fumbles. "On series after series we did the little things all day long."

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Game Summary

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  • Only a 14-yard touchdown run by Duce Staley with 2:37 remaining allowed the Eagles to avoid a shutout. It would have marked the second time in two seasons that Philadelphia had been shut out at least twice.

    "That was a debacle," said Philadelphia coach Andy Reid, whose team lost to Buffalo 26-0 on Sept. 26. "I hadn't seen it that way since early in the season."

    Carolina (3-5) was bidding for its first shutout in more than two years but had to settle for a turnover-free performance and its first victory in three games.

    Carolina's Sean Gilbert had a sack and forced a fumble, and Kevin Greene had a sack and a fumble recovery to lead a defense that held Philadelphia (2-7) to 249 yards.

    "Things just kind of snowballed," said safety Mike Minter, who had a fumble recovery. "Once we got one turnover, we just kind of took it upon ourselves to keep them coming."

    Things got so bad for the Eagles that Donovan McNabb, the seldom-used first-round draft pick, ended up playing the entire second half. He misfired on 12 of 20 passes and was intercepted once, but Reid raised the possibility that McNabb could sart Philadelphia's next game Sunday at home against Washington.

    "I'm not going to make that decision until I watch the film," Reid said.

    Steve Beuerlein threw for 281 yards and three touchdowns, two of them to Muhsin Muhammad, and John Kasay kicked four field goals.

    Beuerlein, who took every snap in Carolina's first seven games, wound up watching the end of Sunday's contest from the sideline, letting backup Steve Bono finish.

    "I'm glad it was under those circumstances, where we were comfortably in control," Beuerlein said. "It felt kind of weird, but I can get used to that kind of weird."

    Turnovers weren't Philadelphia's only problem. The Eagles were penalized a season-high 11 times, including a holding call on reserve linebacker Mike Caldwell that negated a 96-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Allen Rossum in the second quarter.

    Staley rushed for 140 yards and had another 11 in receptions, accounting for all but 98 of the Eagles' yards.

    Philadelphia, which came in averaging an NFC-worst 225 yards, has not broken the 20-point mark since the first game of the season, which it lost. The Eagles have been especially unproductive on the road, losing three of four and getting outscored 107-48.

    "I've talked about small steps forward," Reid said. "Today we went backward."

    Beuerlein was coming off back-to-back losses in which he had been sacked a combined 10 times and was intercepted four times while failing to throw any scoring passes.

    But the Panthers gave him better protection this time, and Beuerlein responded.

    On Carolina's three touchdown drives, he completed 11 of 14 passes for 155 yards. He also scrambled 6 yards on a third-and-5 to keep alive the second TD drive.

    The Panthers converted three first-half turnovers into 13 points on the way to a 23-0 lead.

    Rossum provided a preview of what was ahead for the Eagles when he couldn't field a punt after Carolina's first possession. The Panthers' Brien Kinchen pounced on the ball at the Philadelphia 26, and four plays later, Kasay put Carolina ahead to stay with a 38-yard field goal.

    Staley had a total of 93 yards at halftime; the rest of the Eagles had 13.


  • Fred Lane rushed for 74 yards on 20 carries, making him the career rushing leader in the Panthers' four-plus seasons. Lane has 1,762, moving him past the 1,729 of Anthony Johnson.
  • Philadelphia linebacker William Thomas left in the second quarter with a hip flexor strain and did not return. Linebacker Mike Mamula also left in the second with a leg bruise but returned in the fourth quarter. Carolina kick returner and wide receiver Eric Metcalf has a twisted right knee and will be examined further Monday. Umpire Butch Hannah had to be helped off the field in the third quarter with a right calf strain but returned a few minutes later.
  • Carolina cornerback Doug Evans, who started despite battling a flu bug, was called for pass interference twice on one possession, but he got even by ending the drive with an interception. "He was hearing it in the huddle," Davis said. "I'm sure he wanted to shut everybody up."

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