CHARLOTTE, North Carolina (AP) — The Carolina 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 losing to the Philadelphia Eagles 28-23 in the NFL on Thursday. 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," coach Ron Rivera said.
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 on 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, 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. "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."
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.
AP stringers Eli Pacheco and Justin Parker contributed to this report.