NFL Preseason: Eagles 24, Panthers 13
By Rob Maaddi
Associated PressPHILADELPHIA ó Jake Delhomme fired a pass over the middle for a touchdown that was overturned. The result didn’t matter so much. Delhomme’s surgically repaired right elbow passed the test.
Delhomme was 9-of-14 for 54 yards in his first real action since ligament-replacement surgery in October, but Tony Hunt’s 51-yard touchdown run with 2:15 left led Philadelphia to a 24-13 victory over Carolina on Thursday night.
The game was delayed 58 minutes because of lightning in the first quarter. Both teams looked sloppier than the field conditions.
Donovan McNabb and the Eagles’ first-team offense failed to produce any points in six possessions. The starters lined up for a pair of field goals and came away down seven points.
Richard Marshall returned an interception off a fake field goal 78 yards for a score in the first quarter. He stepped in front of holder Sav Rocca’s shovel pass intended for Brent Celek, avoided kicker David Akers’ attempted tackle and raced to the end zone to put Carolina ahead 7-0.
With Philadelphia down 13-0 in the fourth quarter, Kevin Kolb rallied the Eagles. He led the winning drive from Philadelphia’s 15. Kolb moved the Eagles to the 49 on passes of 23, 7 and 4 yards.
Then Hunt took a handoff, burst up the middle, broke a tackle, cut to his left and raced in for the score to put the Eagles ahead 17-13. A third-round pick who saw little action last season, Hunt is fighting for a roster spot. He significantly helped his chances with that run.
Matt Moore drove the Panthers deep into Philadelphia territory in the final minute, but Justin Roland intercepted a tipped pass and returned it 74 yards for a TD to seal the win.
Delhomme threw just one pass last week in his first game since his elbow operation. He showed plenty of zip on a 10-yard strike to Muhsin Muhammad that was initially ruled a TD. But Muhammad bobbled the ball after taking a hard shot from safety Brian Dawkins, and the call was reversed.
After the challenge, John Kasay kicked a 28-yard field goal to make it 10-0. Kasay added a 49-yarder in the fourth quarter for a 13-0 lead.
Kolb tossed a 33-yard TD pass to Greg Lewis to cut it to 13-7 with 6:41 left. Richmond McGee’s 40-yard field goal got the Eagles within 13-10.
Both teams played most of their starters the entire first half, despite the lengthy delay.
McNabb finished 11-of-24 for 98 yards against a secondary that was missing three starters. He didn’t get much help from his receivers, who dropped about six passes. McNabb led the offense to 10 points in two series in the preseason opener at Pittsburgh last Friday.
Kolb was 14-for-27 for 155 yards, one TD and one interception.
All-Pro cornerback Asante Samuel, who got a $58 million, six-year contract from the Eagles in free agency, saw his first action after missing most of camp with a hamstring injury. He broke up a pass to Muhammad the first time Delhomme looked his way.
Eagles rookie DeSean Jackson had a 27-yard punt return into Carolina territory in the second quarter. Jackson fumbled after a hard hit from Dante Wesley, but Matt Schobel recovered for the Eagles at the Panthers 40. The offense stalled and David Akers missed a 45-yarder.
Lito Sheppard gave the offense another chance by intercepting a pass late in the second quarter, but McNabb threw three straight incomplete passes from Carolina’s 45. Two of the passes were dropped.
The Panthers were missing cornerbacks Ken Lucas (nose) and Chris Gamble (hamstring) and strong safety Chris Harris (groin). Wide receiver Steve Smith (concussion) also didn’t play.
Left tackle Tra Thomas (back) and defensive end Chris Clemons (calf) were the notable absences for the Eagles.
Notes: Eagles WR Reggie Brown left with a hamstring injury during the first series. LG Todd Herremans moved to tackle to take Thomas’ spot and Scott Young filled in for Herremans. … Panthers RB Jonathan Stewart, a first-round pick, sat out following his offseason toe surgery. … Jackson had seven catches for 71 yards. … Brian Westbrook, who didn’t play after signing a new contract before the Eagles played the Steelers, carried five times for 14 yards.