CHARLOTTE – All game long, the Eagles' defense waited for the offense to show up.
It wasn’t until the special teams sent an engraved invitation, getting a blocked punt from T.J. Edwards with 3:53 to play, that the offense finally showed.
Four plays after the block and Shaun Bradley’s recovery set them up at the 27, the Eagles took their first lead and held on from there, winning a must-have game, 21-18 over the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium on Sunday.
"I've never blocked a punt before so it felt really good," said Edwards. "First one so hopefully more to come."
It was a gritty win, one that seemed lost for three quarters, with Jalen Hurts struggling and a Nick Sirianni game plan that seemed overstuffed with screens that rarely worked.
Hurts ended with two rushing touchdowns, His second was a six-yard scoot that came on the fourth play after Edwards’ block. The run accounted for the final score.
"I would say what helps most in those situations (where he is struggling) is your teammates and who I have around me," said Hurts, who was just 15-for-24 for 74 yards in the first half but ended 22-for-37 for 198 yards and one interception. "That’s the beauty about it. It’s a team sport. We had each other’s backs (Sunday)."
Steve Nelson’s interception with 1:57 to play helped seal the win. It was the team’s third pick of Sam Darnold, with Darius Slay getting the other two. It was the third multi-pick game of his nine-year career.
"We went out there and executed at a high level," said Slay, who celebrated the birth of a son earlier in the week. "We all talking about takeaways and we saw how much it affects the game. We always talking about takeaways, takeaways, and we see how much it affects the game. We’d been telling you that takeaways are going to come, and now that they came, you see how much they affect the game."
Eagles kicker Jake Elliott was also a special team standout, making first-half field goals from 30 yards and 58.
Elliott's 58-yarder came as time expired in the second quarter. His career-long is 61 yards against the New York Giants in 2017. It's the third-longest field goal in team history, behind his 61-yarder and a 59-yarder made by Tony Franklin against Dallas in 1979.
Still, the Eagles trailed 15-6 at halftime.
Its defense was playing well, though, a far cry from the past two weeks in giving up 35 and 42 points, respectively to Dallas and Kansas City.
"We really just had to forget about last week and move on," said Javon Hargrave. "This was our challenge, just trying to stop Carolina and we just wanted a big bounce-back game."
Hargave had one of the team's three sacks. It was his sixth of the season, just one more sack away from setting a new career-high. He is the first Eagles player to record six-plus sacks through five games since Jason Babin had seven games in 2011.
Fletcher Cox and Josh Sweat had a sack each.
The Eagles allowed Carolina just five conversions in 15 third-down tries, a week after giving up nine in 10 to the Kansas City Chiefs.
The Eagles (2-3) needed this win badly after losing their last three and with the defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers coming to Philadelphia for a Thursday night game that will be followed by a trip to Las Vegas 10 days later.
DeVonta Smith has seven catches for 77 yards and Miles Sanders had 11 runs for 45 yards. As a team, the Eagles ran 22 times for 91 yards.
The Eagles had just nine running plays early in the fourth quarter but finished with 22 of them for 91 yards.
"It was emotional in there," said head coach Nick Sirianni, referring to the postgame locker room. "Getting that win and coming in there and being able to celebrate, because really what that felt like was a complete team win. And that’s what it was.
"When one unit is down, the other units have to bring it up. The defense felt like it was up the whole game. They played an unbelievable game. Special teams was down a little bit early, then they come back and make a play. Then the offense is down and they gutted it out in the second half, on some meaningful plays. Really, the definition of a team win."
Ed Kracz is the publisher of SI.com’s Eagle Maven and co-host of the Eagles Unfiltered Podcast. Check out the latest Eagles news at www.SI.com/NFL/Eagles or www.eaglemaven.com and please follow him on Twitter: @kracze.