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Defense keeps Eagles in the game until offense rallies late for an unlikely win over Panthers

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. – The Eagles couldn't have played much worse in the first half.

There were several penalties, including another that negated a touchdown; an offense that couldn't go anywhere; a safety allowed and a non-existent running game. All of it led to an early 12-point deficit.

But then Darius Slay intercepted two passes, the defensive line kept the pressure on Carolina QB Sam Darnold and the special teams unit blocked a punt late in the fourth quarter. That finally sparked the offense, as Jalen Hurts' 6-yard touchdown run with 2:38 left put the Eagles (2-3) in front for the first time. They held on for a 21-18 win over the Panthers on Sunday after Darnold threw his third interception of the game.

Hurts wasn't great -- completing 22-of-37 passes for 198 yards and an interception. Hurts had just 35 yards passing on his first 20 attempts, right up until the final 31 seconds of the first half.

Eagles safety Marcus Epps reacts after a blocked punt during the second half.
Eagles safety Marcus Epps reacts after a blocked punt during the second half.

In all, the Eagles had 88 net yards on 29 plays in the first half, an average of a paltry 3.0 yards per play. Hurts was 15 of 24 for 74 yards. The Eagles ran the ball just five times.

Back to life late

Hurts hit Quez Watkins for 53 yards late in the third quarter, taking the Eagles to the Panthers' 10. They scored three plays later and just like that, were within two.

The Eagles seemed doomed after missing on fourth down with 5:35 left. But after forcing the Panthers to punt, linebacker T.J. Edwards shot in up the middle and blocked Joseph Charlton's punt. Shaun Bradley recovered at the Panthers' 27. Hurts' 21-yard completion to Dallas Goedert got the Eagles to the 6. One play later, Hurts ran in practically untouched with 2:38 left.

Then Steve Nelson intercepted Darnold one more time, and the Eagles had an unlikely victory.

Contact Martin Frank at mfrank@delawareonline.com. Follow on Twitter @Mfranknfl.

This article originally appeared on Delaware News Journal: Eagles' offense, Jalen Hurts rally late for unlikely win vs. Panthers