Sam Darnold's 2 touchdowns help Panthers to convincing victory over Texans

23September 2021

Sam Darnold had two touchdowns and D.J. Moore had more than 100 receiving yards as the Carolina Panthers took care of the Houston Texans on Thursday night, 24-9.

Darnold was 23-for-34 with 304 passing yards but the scores came from his legs.

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The former first-round pick of the New York Jets started the scoring party with a 5-yard rushing touchdown to get the Panthers on the board in the first quarter. He would then score again in the fourth quarter on a goal-line rush with a little help from his teammates to push him in.

Carolina Panthers quarterback Sam Darnold (14) scrambles out of the pocket against the Houston Texans during the first half of an NFL football game Thursday, Sept. 23, 2021, in Houston. 

Carolina Panthers quarterback Sam Darnold (14) scrambles out of the pocket against the Houston Texans during the first half of an NFL football game Thursday, Sept. 23, 2021, in Houston. 
(AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith)

Chuba Hubbard got a majority of the carries for the Panthers after Christian McCaffrey left the game with a hamstring injury. Hubbard finished with 52 yards on the ground. Tommy Tremble got into the game and scored a touchdown on his first and only carry.

PANTHERS’ CHRISTIAN MCCAFFREY RULED OUT WITH HAMSTRING INJURY

Darnold looked for Moore the most during the game.

He two hooked up eight times for 126 yards. Moore was targeted 12 times overall.

Houston played tough in Davis Mills’ first career start. Mills was under center for the injured Tyrod Taylor. He was 19-for-28 with 168 passing yards and a touchdown pass to Anthony Miller. Houston was down 7-6 at halftime after the touchdown pass but only scored three points in the second half.

Brandin Cooks led Houston with nine catches for 112 yards.

Houston only had 42 total yards on the tonight, including 21 from Mark Ingram II.

Houston had two defensive players with 10 or more tackles. Zach Cunningham led the team with 14 total tackles while Christian Kirksey had 10.

Houston Texans quarterback Davis Mills (10) looks to hand the ball off during the first half of an NFL football game against the Carolina Panthers Thursday, Sept. 23, 2021, in Houston.

Houston Texans quarterback Davis Mills (10) looks to hand the ball off during the first half of an NFL football game against the Carolina Panthers Thursday, Sept. 23, 2021, in Houston.
(AP Photo/Justin Rex)

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With the win, it’s already one of the best starts of Darnold’s career. He was acquired by the Panthers from the Jets in the offseason. He’s also now put together third three-game winning streak of his career. He had a three-game win streak in 2019 when the Jets won in Weeks 9, 10 and 11. He was 7-6 as a starter that year.

Carolina has made an early case for being one of the top teams in the division but Weeks 4, 5 and 6 will really determine who this Panthers team is. Carolina hits the road in Week 4 against the Dallas Cowboys and then has the Philadelphia Eagles and Minnesota Vikings at home.

Panthers deal with injuries

Carolina lost two key players during their win over Houston.

Christian McCaffrey exited the game in the first half. He was hobbling off the field after a run and it appeared he had tweaked his hamstring. He would enter the medical tent on the sideline and leave the game never to return. He finished the game with 40 rushing yards on nine carries and two catches for nine yards.

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The Panthers also lost defensive back Jaycee Horn in the second half. ESPN reported Horn suffered a broken foot. He was carted from the sideline to the locker room after being helped off the field by trainers.

The status for both players going forward was not clear.

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