Eagles CB Steven Nelson: Panthers’ predictable formation led to final INT

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Sunday’s 21-18 loss, in a game where the Carolina Panthers had the visiting Philadelphia Eagles on a leash (or whatever you restrain a bird with), wasn’t one many probably saw coming. But there was definitely one guy who saw the defining play in the surprising upset coming.

With just over two minutes remaining in a three-point contest, Eagles cornerback Steven Nelson picked off Panthers quarterback Sam Darnold at the Carolina 35-yard line on a pass intended for wideout Robby Anderson. The interception set up the stage for the final game-clinching, clock-draining drive for Philadelphia in icing the come-from-behind victory.

After the game, Nelson told reporters that he saw the play coming. According to the seventh-year defensive back, Anderson had been lined up in that particular formation for much of the afternoon, making the anticipatory reaction a rather simple one.

Conversely, Sunday was not exactly Anderson’s best day as a Panther. In an outing where he underwhelmed once again, reeling in just two receptions for 30 yards, the receiver was caught by the broadcast in a moment of frustration on the sideline.

Nelson’s forecast, however, may not be so much of an indictment on Anderson as it is, perhaps, on the Panthers’ coaching staff.

Head coach Matt Rhule and offensive coordinator Joe Brady, along with Darnold, have had a difficult time integrating Anderson as a key part of the offense. He’s now gone from a career year in 2020 of averaging 68.5 receiving yards per game to just 35.8 through the first five contests in 2021.

Carolina, who may also be getting back star rusher Christian McCaffrey next week, need to get the old Robby back into this offense before the season takes a sharper turn for the worse.

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