The Philadelphia Eagles entered their Monday night game with the Carolina Panthers with a lot of uncertainty. Mark Sanchez would be making his first start for the Eagles – this after Nick Foles broke his collarbone last week against Houston – and they would be without defensive stalwart DeMeco Ryans, who ruptured his Achilles against the Texans.
How would the Eagles respond without their leaders?
In dominating fashion, that’s how.
Philadelphia destroyed Carolina, 45-21, in a game that wasn’t nearly as close as the final score indicated. Heck, Philly led 45-7 early in the fourth quarter and scored touchdowns on offense, defense and special teams.
The defensive touchdown came courtesy of Bradley Fletcher, whose 34-yard pick-six made it 31-7 just before halftime.
“I was pressed up on the receiver, and he ran a curl route, and as I ran a route with him and turned, he stopped,” Fletcher explained on Ferrall on the Bench. “I seen the ball on the way and was able to make the catch and get it down in their sideline. Just happy to help the team today. It was a great victory by everybody.”
Especially for the defense. The Eagles forced five turnovers, finished with nine sacks and held Carolina scoreless in the second and third quarters. Connor Barwin was a beast, finishing with 3.5 sacks, while Fletcher defended five passes.
Foles and Ryans are very good players, but, well, they weren’t needed Monday.
“Yeah, as a football team, it’s unfortunate that you have injuries,” Fletcher said. “But we have the next man in going on here, and we had guys come in and they were able to perform on the field in front of a packed crowd on a Monday Night Football game.”
That includes Mark Sanchez, who won his first NFL game since 2012. On a night when Philadelphia rushed 23 times for just 37 yards, Sanchez finished 20-of-37 for 332 yards, two touchdowns and zero turnovers.
“He came in, he had control of the offense and he made a lot of great throws tonight,” Fletcher said. “I was very impressed. I’m very interested to get back to work with him and get on to this next game against Green Bay.”
The Eagles (7-2) play the Packers (6-3) at Lambeau Field this Sunday at 4:25 p.m. ET. While no one is confusing Sanchez with Aaron Rodgers, who threw six touchdown passes against the Bears in the first half Sunday night, the Eagles are confident that their quarterback can get the job done.
“He had control of the offense today,” Fletcher said. “He made a lot of throws, made adjustments, made calls out there. He looked good.”