NFL Nation: gary barnige

Halftime thoughts: Bryce Brown stars

November, 26, 2012
11/26/12
10:17
PM ET
PHILADELPHIA -- A Philadelphia Eagles rookie filling in for an offensive star who has a concussion had a big first half of the "Monday Night Football" game against the Carolina Panthers here at Lincoln Financial Field. But it's not the one that immediately jumps to mind.

While quarterback Nick Foles has continued to look rookie-shaky in his second start in place of Michael Vick, rookie running back Bryce Brown has 129 rushing yards on nine carries, including an electrifying 65-yard second-quarter touchdown run, in place of concussed starter LeSean McCoy. As a result, the Eagles have recovered from an early 14-3 deficit and lead the Panthers 15-14 at the half.

Brown, the seventh-round pick who has been used to spell McCoy in certain situations this year, is getting his chance as a starter and looks fast and nimble cutting through holes and outrunning Panthers defenders. It's somewhat reminiscent of the big game Giants running back Andre Brown had against Carolina in Week 3 when he was pressed into starter's duty in place of an injured Ahmad Bradshaw. And yes, the Carolina defense is the common denominator there. But Brown was a well-regarded talent who plummeted in the draft due to off-field issues, and the Eagles may have found themselves a gem who can complement McCoy even when the latter returns.

As for Foles... meh. At least three throws looked as though they could have been intercepted, most of his work is being done in the screen game and he's not making consistently great decisions. But again, it's his second start, the offensive line in front of him is missing four starters (of a possible five), and he's missing wide receivers DeSean Jackson (who left the game in the first quarter with an injury) and Jason Avant (who was inactive due to injury). So it's not necessarily fair to judge Foles, only to point out the facts of the case. He's 11-of-16 for 75 yards.

The Eagles defense had a horrendous start, leaving Carolina receivers Gary Barnidge and Brandon LaFell open for long touchdowns in the first quarter. Philadelphia possessed the ball for 9:17 of that first quarter's 15 minutes and yet still managed to trail 14-3 when it ended. And after the Brown touchdown, Eagles coach Andy Reid made the silly decision to try for a two-point conversion in the second quarter. (They didn't get it.) But for the most part, things seem to have turned in the Eagles' favor, and if the defense can continue to tighten up and make the plays it's been making at and behind the line of scrimmage since the first quarter ended, Philadelphia has a chance to end its six-game losing streak tonight.

Jackson left the game with a sternum injury, and the team says his return is doubtful. Defensive tackle Fletcher Cox has a tailbone injury, and the team says his return is questionable. X-rays on both players were negative.

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