PHI-CAR Grades: Stewart, Newton power Panthers to remain perfect
Here are the top takeaways and highest-graded players from the Panthers’ 24-16 win over the Eagles.
– A fully fit and firing Jonathan Stewart (+3.2) is one of the most enjoyable running backs to watch in the NFL, and he certainly brought his A-game against the Eagles last night. Stewart forced six missed tackles en route to his first 100-yard game of the season.
– The stars of the Panthers’ defense were, without question, the two men stationed at the second level, but Carolina’s best defensive player so far this season, and once again last night (+7.0), has been Kawann Short. Recording a career-high grade for the second week in a row, Short racked up nine pressures (two sacks, seven hurries), a batted pass, and five stops to earn his sixth straight positive grade to start the year, and his eighth straight dating back to last season. Ahead of Monday Night Football, Short sits as our No. 2-ranked interior defender after seven weeks.
– After he came out firing on the opening drive with a strike to Philly Brown (+1.2) to set the Panthers up on the Eagles’ goal line, this proved to be a rough night for Cam Newton (-0.8) as a passer. Forcing balls into coverage and missing throws high, Newton managed to avoid the plays to turn the game against his team, and chipped in with a couple of solid gains of conversions on the ground to help the Panthers to a sixth straight win.
DT Kawann Short (+7.0)
MLB Luke Kuechly (+4.3)
WLB Thomas Davis (+4.0)
C Ryan Kalil (+3.6)
HB Jonathan Stewart (+3.2)
– Any time your receivers drop eight passes, it’s going to be tough to put up big numbers and come up with the win–such was the fate Sam Bradford (+3.2) suffered last night. To highlight how close Bradford came to pushing the Eagles to victory, twice on field goal drives Bradford put good passes to the back of the end zone that his receivers failed to bring down inbounds; a swing of eight points with successful conversions that would have put the Eagles right in the game to the end.
– After a trying start to his time in Philadelphia, Byron Maxwell (+2.1) had his best statistical game as an Eagle last night, with a fortuitous bounce after he was picked off the line, giving him his first interception of the season. Targeted five other times on the night, Maxwell surrendered only three catches for 18 yards with a pass breakup on a play targeted for Greg Olsen. Since giving up 315 yards in his first three games, Maxwell has only surrendered 95 yards since missing the Week 4 game in Washington.
– The Eagles were eager to get their ground game away from the heart of the Carolina defense last night, and but for Ryan Mathews’ touchdown run, which pulled the middle of the Panthers’ defense away from the middle of the field, they had little success between the tackles. More was to be found hitting wide off the ends, and a large part of that success (65 yards on 12 carries) was down to some fine work by Brent Celek (+4.6), holding up the edge defenders to allow his interior linemen to pull around the corner and set up consistent gains.
TE Brent Celek (+4.6)
QB Sam Bradford (+3.2)
OLB Brandon Graham (+2.6)
CB Byron Maxwell (+2.1)
LG Allen Barbre (+2.1)