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PHILADELPHIA – Darren Sproles returned a punt 65 yards for a touchdown and had an 8-yard TD run to help the Philadelphia Eagles take a 17-7 lead over the Carolina Panthers after the first quarter on Monday night.
Mark Sanchez started his first game since Dec. 30, 2012, in place of Nick Foles, who broke his collarbone in Philadelphia's win at Houston last week.
Sproles broke loose up the middle, deked punter Brad Nortman and cut to the right sideline on his way to his second punt return for a score this season and fourth in his career.
The Eagles (6-2) are looking to stay on top in the NFC East. Carolina (3-5-1) is trying to snap a three-game losing streak.
Cam Newton threw an interception and DeAngelo Williams lost a fumble on Carolina's first three plays from scrimmage.
Sanchez, who threw for 202 yards and two TDs after replacing Foles in the first half at Houston, was only 2 for 7.
The Eagles built a 10-0 lead off the Panthers' turnovers.
Casey Matthews, starting for injured linebacker DeMeco Ryans, forced Williams' fumble and Cedric Thornton recovered at the Panthers 22. But the Eagles went three-and-out. Sanchez threw two incomplete passes and Cody Parkey hit a 39-yarder to make it 3-0.
Cary Williams then intercepted Newton on Carolina's next offensive play. It was the first pick by an Eagles cornerback this season.
Sanchez completed passes of 15 yards to Jeremy Maclin and 21 yards to Brent Celek to set up Sproles' score. Sproles took a handoff and ran off the left side untouched.
The Panthers answered on their ensuing possession. Newton connected with Greg Olsen on a 38-yard pass and converted a pair of third-down passes to keep the drive going. Jonathan Stewart jumped over the top from the 1 to cut it to 10-7.
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