Earlier this season, running back Darren Sproles was named the NFC's Offensive Player of the Week in the Monday night win over Indianapolis. On Monday night against the Carolina Panthers, Sproles electrified the nearly 70,000 fans at Lincoln Financial Field with a 65-yard punt return with 3:29 to go in the first quarter to put the Eagles ahead 17-7. It was Sproles' second touchdown of the game after scoring on an 8-yard run earlier in the quarter.
Sproles' punt return touchdown sparked a 35-0 run that resulted in a 45-21 win over the Panthers.
Sproles caught the Brad Nortman punt at the Eagles' 35-yard line, raced up the middle to around the Panthers' 40-yard line, and cut on a diagonal past Nortman and was off to the races to score his sixth touchdown of the season and second by a punt return. It was Sproles' seventh-career return touchdown.
"We got it to three, gave ourselves an opportunity and then we allowed that to happen," said Panthers head coach Ron Rivera. "I mean hats off to them. It was a great job. Nice job blocking. I thought Darren made a couple of great cuts. We were in position; we missed. And again, when a team like this makes an explosive play, you set yourself up because again, defensively they got after us and we didn't do anything to slow it down."
The Eagles added an interception return by cornerback Bradley Fletcher in the second quarter for the team's ninth return touchdowns (one kickoff, two interception, two punt return, two blocked punts, two fumble recoveries) of the year. No other team in the league has more than four.
With an average of 17.0 yards per punt return on the season, Sproles leads the NFL.
On the touchdown run, Sproles ran wide open to the left side of the field as the Panthers tried to clog the middle.
"They were packing the box and we were trying to get the ball to the perimeter," said head coach Chip Kelly. "I thought Riley Cooper had a huge block on the play, and we got the ball to the outside. But they were consciously doing a good job of trying to take away our inside run. I thought they did a good job of it."
The Eagles hosted the Carolina Panthers in a Monday Night Football matchup ...