Sam Darnold‘s first start with the Panthers came against a familiar team and it ended with an unfamiliar result.
Darnold didn’t win a lot in three years with the Jets, but he got a win over them on Sunday. Darnold threw a touchdown, ran for another and the Panthers outlasted the Jets for a 19-14 win.
The Panthers didn’t get on the board until turning a Shaq Thompson interception into a field goal in the second quarter, but their next offensive play saw Darnold hit fellow former Jet Robby Anderson for a 57-yard score. His running touchdown made it 16-0 at halftime and it looked like things could get ugly from there given how little the Jets had done on offense to that point.
They had 82 total yards while giving up three sacks of first-round pick Zack Wilson. Wilson finished the half 6-of-16 for 84 yards, but things would get better in the second half.
Wilson went 4-for-4 for 57 yards on a drive that ended with his first NFL touchdown pass and he found Corey Davis for a second touchdown pass late in the fourth quarter. The two-point try after that score failed, so the Jets’ time was up after Christian McCaffrey ran for a first down on the next drive.
Wilson ended the day 20-of-37 for 258 yards and showed a good touch for making things happen when his protection broke down. It broke down a lot and an injury to left tackle Mekhi Becton doesn’t bode well for immediate improvement on that front.
McCaffrey had 187 yards from scrimmage and caught nine of Darnold’s 24 completions. Thompson added 10 tackles and a sack to go with his interception and the Panthers pass rush was strong across the board. They’ll try to keep that going against the Saints next week.
The Jets will turn their attention to the Patriots as they prepare for a meeting with another 2021 first-round pick in Wilson’s second NFL start.