CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Facing a 21-6 deficit early in the second half, the Eagles' offense was in need of a spark. On a second-and-7 play from its own 37-yard line, quarterback Sam Bradford handed off to Ryan Mathews and the Pro Bowl running back did the rest.
Thanks to a great push from the offensive line, Mathews had nothing but green grass and Panthers safety Kurt Coleman in front of him. Mathews made Coleman miss, and 63 yards later, he was into the end zone for the longest rush of his NFL career.
"It was zone and the line blocked great," Mathews said after the game. "I just read it and cut back and tried to run fast."
The touchdown was the biggest part of a very successful night overall for the Fresno State product, who rushed for 97 yards on just six carries. As a team, the Eagles ran the ball 30 times for 177 yards, a 5.9 yards-per-attempt average.
"We just have to make the most of our opportunities. We have three good running backs," Mathews said. "(The coaches) are keeping us healthy and we're rolling (different guys on the field). We just have to put everything together and get better this week. ... I just try to make plays and do my best."
DeMarco Murray chipped in with 65 yards on 18 carries. Tackle Lane Johnson said after the game that it doesn't make much of a difference to the offensive line as to which back is in the game, as both backs fit the physical run style that the Eagles are looking to play.
"Both of them are really strong runners and downhill runners," Johnson said. "They're guys that aren't going to juke and jive as much. They're going to run you over or outrun you, so I think they complement each other well. DeMarco did some good things and I think Ryan had a hell of a run there on that outside zone, where he cut it back and creased it. That was a big play by him."
The 177-yard rushing performance by the Eagles on Sunday night represented the team's second-highest output on the ground this season, trailing only the 186-yard performance against the Saints two weeks ago.
Though the Eagles are heading into the bye week on a loss, it's a good sign that the running game seems to be clicking as the team approaches the halfway point of the season.
The Eagles traveled to North Carolina in Week 7 to face the undefeated Panthers. View the full gallery here...