Panthers dominate Saints in first half, hold 17-0 halftime lead

New Orleans Saints v Carolina Panthers
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The Saints positioned themselves as a favorite in the NFC after an impressive victory over the Packers in the season opener. Few outside of the Carolinas came out of Week 1 talking about the Panthers.

But Sam Darnold and the Panthers dominated the Saints in the first half, carrying a 17-0 lead into the locker room.

Darnold completed 16 of 20 passes for 216 yards and two touchdowns as Carolina scored on three of its first four first-half possessions. The Panthers ran out of time on their final possession of the half after crossing midfield.

Brandon Zylstra caught his first career touchdown pass, 20-yarder only three minutes into the game, and DJ Moore added a 2-yard touchdown reception on third-and-goal with 1:55 remaining in the half.

The Panthers, who have lost eight of the last nine and four in a row to New Orleans, had 274 yards in the first half. The Saints are missing three defensive starters, with Marcus Davenport, Kwon Alexander and Marshon Lattimore out with injuries.

The Saints have only 65 yards, with 31 coming on a final possession of the half before Jameis Winston threw his first interception of the season. Winston, who threw 33 interceptions in 2019 in his final season with the Bucs, was only 8-of-12 for 77 yards.

The Saints reached the Carolina 37 in the final two minutes, but on third-and-10 Juston Burris picked Winston at the Carolina 6 and returned it 17 yards.

The Saints have only two rushing attempts, with Alvin Kamara running 4 yards.

The Panthers won’t have left guard Pat Elflein the rest of the game. The team ruled him out with a hamstring injury. Dennis Daley, who started at right guard last week, has replaced Elflein.