Kuechly evaluated for concussion as Panthers fall to Eagles, 28-23

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. - The Carolina Panthers two-game win streak was snapped after losing 28-23 to the Philadelphia Eagles Thursday night at Bank of America Stadium.

Cam Newton was intercepted three times, despite rushing for a touchdown and passing for another.

Newton was picked off with three minutes remaining, but after forcing the Eagles to punt, the Panthers were given one more shot.

[IMAGES: Philadelphia Eagles at Carolina Panthers]

Newton threw an incompletion on 4th-and-1 inside Philadelphia territory, and the Eagles ran out the clock.

The Panthers (4-2) travel to Chicago to play the Bears next week.

The Eagles extended their lead to 28-16 when quarterback Carson Wentz tossed a 24-yard touchdown pass to Nelson Agholor to open the fourth quarter.

Newton hit rookie Christian McCaffrey on a short touchdown pass to close the Panthers within a score.

The halftime tie didn't last long as tight end Zach Ertz's second touchdown grab, followed by the 2-point conversion, gave the Eagles an 18-10 lead early in the third quarter.

Philadelphia nailed a 48-yard field goal, sandwiched between two Graham Gano field goals for Carolina.

The Panthers' defense stormed Wentz for three first-half sacks, but the score was tied 10-10 at halftime.

Panthers defensive lineman Julius Peppers continued to cement his franchise legacy when he stripped Wentz in the first quarter to become Carolina's all-time leader in forced fumbles.

The teams exchanged field goals in the first quarter before Newton's 16-yard rushing touchdown in the second quarter put the Panthers up 10-3.

Wentz connected with Ertz on a 1-yard touchdown with 2:32 remaining in the first half.

Panthers Kuechly leaves game to be evaluated for concussion

Carolina linebacker Luke Kuechly left the game to be evaluated for a possible concussion.

Kuechly, the former Associated Press NFL defensive player of the year, came out after he took a hit near his neck from Eagles offensive lineman Brandon Brooks. Kuechly paused to squat down with about 5 minutes left in the second quarter, then walked to the sideline for trainers to test the range of motion in his neck before he jogged into the locker-room tunnel.

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He didn't join the team for the second half. He missed six games last season after suffering his second career concussion.

The Panthers also lost running back Fozzy Whittaker in the first quarter. He was carted off with an injury to his right ankle.

Panthers QB Newton: We need to get Stewart more involved

The Panthers have long been known for their ability to run the football.

Just not this year.

Had it not been for quarterback Cam Newton, who had 71 yards on 11 carries, the Panthers would have been completely one dimensional on offense in a 28-23 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles on Thursday night. Carolina running backs Jonathan Stewart, Christian McCaffrey and Fozzy Whittaker were limited to 1 yard on 13 carries.

Even wide receiver Curtis Samuel, who had one carry for 8 yards on a reverse, outgained Carolina's running backs.

"We have a lot of things to look at," said coach Ron Rivera. "We really do."

It's unusual for a Panthers team that has rushed for more yards than any team in the NFL since the start of the 2008 season.

But the holes simply aren't there.

At one point Stewart was gang-tackled for a 3-yard loss in the backfield by seven Eagles defenders. The normally mild-mannered Stewart got up screaming at the Carolina bench in frustration.

There was nowhere to run.

The franchise's all-time leading rusher had eight carries for minus-4 yards Thursday and is averaging just 2.9 yards per carry this season. He hasn't scored a touchdown running the ball.

"We have to find ways to get him going," Newton said. "That's part of that lethargic-ness I was mentioning. A team that is heavily favored to run the ball, that's who we are. That's Panthers football. We have to find a way to get that running game going and get Stew involved."

EAGLES LBS COMMAND RESPECT: Nigel Bradham likes the hype the Eagles' front seven gets around the league, but wonders why the linebackers aren't talked about more. Maybe a 28-23 victory at Carolina that included three interceptions of Newton will remedy that.

"We feel like we're the most consistent," said Bradham, who finished with 10 tackles. "We're just continuing to grind and try to gain some respect in this league. Even in our division, we don't get much respect. How can they just talk about the front four, and forget the linebackers?"

Outside linebacker Mychal Kendricks led the Eagles with 15 tackles.

WENTZ DOESN'T MIND CONTACT: Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz threw for three touchdowns on Thursday night, and nearly sneaked in for a rushing score to boot. Carolina's pass rush swarmed Wentz and sent him to the turf repeatedly in the process. Fans might be angry about that, but it didn't seem to bother Wentz in the least.

"You don't think about it, honesty," said Wentz, who was 16 for 30 for 222 yards for a 110.7 passer rating, his second straight game in triple digits. "You just look at the (tablet) to see if it was a protection issue, and fix it. You keep playing ball. It's football, and you're going to get hit."

TOP TARGETS: After tossing three touchdowns to receiver Devin Funchess in the last two games, Newton most often threw in the direction of McCaffrey and receiver Kelvin Benjamin against the Eagles. Newton targeted McCaffrey 14 times, resulting in a career-high 10 receptions for 56 yards and a 1-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter. Benjamin had nine catches for 99 yards on 13 targets.

Newton attempted a season-high 52 passes, but completed just 28 for 239 yards and was intercepted three times. He finished with a 48.5 passer rating, his second lowest of the season dating to his 43.7 rating against New Orleans on Sept. 24. In his previous two games, Newton had completed 77.4 percent of his passes for 671 yards, six touchdowns and one interception.

RIVERA'S DECISION: After battling current Kansas City Chief Harrison Butker for the Panthers kicking job in the preseason, Graham Gano improved to 15 of 16 on field goals this year, hitting all three of his attempts against the Eagles.

That's why it seemed strange that with the scored tied at 10 on the final play of the first half, coach Ron Rivera passed up a 58-yard field goal attempt and went for it instead. Rivera said he didn't want to put Gano out there to kick into a crosswind, even though Eagles kicker Jake Elliott had made a 50-yarder at that same end of the field earlier in the game.

Gano hit a 39-yard field goal in the first quarter and connected from 20 and 46 yards in the third. His only miss this season came at Detroit Oct. 8 when he missed from 55.

PEPPERS' MILESTONE: Julius Peppers is still strong at 37. Peppers needed one sack to become the fifth player to reach 150 since they became an official statistic in 1982. The 37-year-old Peppers didn't waste any time reaching it, sacking Wentz on the first drive of the game and forcing a fumble.

Notable connections

  • Panthers head coach Ron Rivera spent five seasons from 1999-2003 as the linebackers coach for the Eagles. The Eagles advanced to the NFC Championship game in each of his final
  • three seasons.
  • Panthers running back coach Jim Skipper made his foray into the professional coaching ranks with the USFL’s Philadelphia/Baltimore Stars from 1983-85.
  • Panthers national scout Mike Szabo served as a scouting intern with the Eagles in 1996.
  • Panthers running back Cameron Artis-Payne is from Harrisburg, Pa.
  • Panthers safety Kurt Coleman played for the Eagles from 2010-13.
  • Panthers safety Demetrious Cox is from Jeannette, Pa.
  • Panthers center Greg Van Roten played collegiately at Penn State.
  • Panthers cornerback Daryl Worley attended William Penn Charter School in Philadelphia, Pa.
  • Panthers wide receiver Russell Shepard entered the NFL in 2013 as an undrafted rookie free agent with Philadelphia.
  • Eagles running backs coach Duce Staley played collegiately at South Carolina in 1995-96 and was elected to South Carolina’s Athletic Hall of Fame in 2012.
  • Eagles quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo was a coaching intern for the Panthers in 1997.
  • Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz was the secondary coach at North Carolina Central University in 1991.
  • Eagles offensive coordinator Frank Reich played quarterback for the Panthers in 1995.
  • Eagles linebackers coach Ken Flajole was the linebackers coach for the Panthers from 2003-08.
  • Eagles wide receiver Mack Hollins played collegiately at North Carolina.
  • Eagles wide receiver Alshon Jeffery played collegiately at South Carolina is from St. Matthews, S.C.
  • Eagles running back Kenjon Barner was drafted in the sixth round of the 2013 draft by the Panthers, spending one season with the team.

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