Darnold, defense lead Panthers past Texans; McCaffrey hurt

The Carolina Panthers are now 3-0, thanks to Sam Darnold's impressive performance and the dominating play of their defense. This is the first time they have been this close since 2015.

Darnold, defense lead Panthers past Texans; McCaffrey hurt

This combination proved to be too much for the Houston Texans, who won 24-9 against Carolina on Thursday night. Darnold and the Panthers' offense could be affected by Christian McCaffrey's hamstring injury.

Darnold stated that "Losing Christian can be hard, but I think we did a great deal of rebounding back." "We were able put the first half behind and did a great job in the second."

Despite losing McCaffrey in the second quarter, Darnold threw for 304 yards while Darnold ran for two touchdowns to help the Panthers defeat the Texans.

Coach Matt Rhule stated, "In the second hae we trusted Sam." "We were pushing the ball down the field and throwing more verticals," coach Matt Rhule said.

In his first career start, Houston's rookie quarterback Davis Mills was beaten by Carolina's top-ranked defense. He was sacked four times and held to 168 yards passing. Mills was called into action by Tyrod Taylor, who had suffered a hamstring injury on Sunday. He was then placed on injured reserve.

In three games, the Panthers have allowed 573 yards of offense and 14 sacks.

Darnold passed for 300 yards in the second consecutive game, continuing to revive his career with the Panthers after being dropped by the New York Jets.

McCaffrey was the league's leader in scrimmage yards in 2019, the same as he was in 2019. McCaffrey missed three of the remaining games in 2020 due to injuries. The Panthers were 5-11 in Rhule’s first year.

Rhule stated McCaffrey was suffering from a tight hamstring.

Rhule stated that he didn't know how severe it was yet. Rhule said, "But I knew it was happening immediately and I said: "Hey, he's here for the game." He was moving about, I could see him there. But we'll have to wait and watch.

Darnold ran for Carolina's first point in the first quarter. He won the game when bullied in from 1 yard. With four minutes remaining, it was 24-9. Darnold also lost his helmet.

Mills was able to throw for a touchdown, and avoided making big mistakes after throwing an interception in Sunday's second half loss at Cleveland. The Texans (1-1) couldn't run for the ball and finished with 42 yards. That forced Mills to be in difficult down-and-distance situations, as Houston punted six times.

David Culley, Texans coach, stated that "We were just not very good on offense tonight... we weren't able o run the ball."

Mills' favorite target, Brandin Cooks was Brandin Cooks who had nine receptions of 112 yards.

Cooks described the rookie as "great." He handled himself well."

McCaffrey was hurt on Carolina's next drive after Darnold's 5-yard run gave the Panthers an early lead. To end the possession, rookie Chuba Hubbard was stopped on fourth-and-1 at the Houston 5.

Hubbard was a fourth-round Oklahoma State pick. He had 11 carries for 52 yards, and three receptions of 27 yards.

Anthony Miller threw a 1-yard touchdown pass to Joey Slye just 30 seconds before the half-time break. Miller made his debut for the Texans following a shoulder injury that prevented him from playing in the first two games.

Tommy Tremble sprinted untouched into a goal from 7 yards to give Carolina a lead of 14-6. Before Darnold's quick rush on third-and-1 put the game out of reach.


Rhule stated that CB Jaycee Horn of Carolina, the eighth overall selection in the draft, had broken bones in his right leg. Rhule stated that Panthers S Juston Burris pulled his groin muscle, and that he would be out of action for some time.


"We didn't execute. We missed tackles. They were making plays that they were supposed make, and we weren’t making plays that were ours." -- Christian Kirksey, Texans linebacker.


Carolina will visit Dallas on October 3.

On October 3, Houston will visit Buffalo

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