CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP)– Via two video games, quarterback Sam Darnold is prospering in Carolina.

With a reliable running game led by Christian McCaffrey, a trusted set of pass receivers that consists of D.J. Moore and protection that is playing lights-out, Darnold is off to a 2-0 start as Carolina’s starting quarterback.

Darnold tossed for 305 backyards and also 2 touchdowns on Sunday and also Carolina’s defense kipped down another outstanding efficiency in a leading 26-7 win over the New Orleans Saints.

Darnold linked on TD passes to Brandon Zylstra and also Moore, as well as McCaffrey fought with leg aches to load up 137 backyards from scrimmage as well as scored his very first touchdown as the Panthers (2-0) beat the Saints for only the second time in the past 10 tries.

McCaffrey’s presence has been vital for Darnold, enabling the fourth-year QB to utilize even more play activity and bootleg rollouts than he performed with the New York City Jets, cold the defense. That was apparent when he got in touch with Zylstra on a 20-yard goal pass after a bootleg that got him extra time to find the open receiver.

“I have actually constantly had confidence, that’s never mosting likely to transform,” said Darnold, who was 13-25 as a starter in 3 periods with the Jets. “However simply discovering completions and also proceeding to relocate the round down the field is a good feeling.”

Included tight end Dan Arnold: “The greatest thing is up front we’re running the round actually well and that opens a great deal of that play activity. That was one of our tricks today was running the ball. When you have that success you have the ability to open up a great deal even more of the crime.”

Jameis Winston battled after throwing 5 TD passes in a 38-3 gain the Environment-friendly Bay Packers in the season opener. Winston, that changed future Hall of Famer Drew Brees, was held to 111 backyards passing, obstructed two times and also sacked four times on a day when the Saints (1-1) were limited to 128 lawns on offense, their fewest ever under train Sean Payton.

Carolina’s protection held Alvin Kamara to 5 backyards on eight brings as the Saints had problem with 5 of the group’s offending instructors out because of COVID-19 protocols. In all, the Saints were missing 8 assistant trains as a result of COVID-19.

“Our defense strategy had not been great,” Payton added. “It had nothing to do with us being short-handed.”

The Panthers racked up 383 backyards, and had 28 initial downs to New Orleans’ 6.

“We left our defense out on the area way too much,” Kamara said. “We have actually obtained to do a far better task of discovering our rhythm and being much more effective on very first and also second down. I don’t condemn any person. It’s on us. We’ve got to do much better.”

For the second straight week, the Panthers’ defense set the tone by pitching a shutout in the first half. Carolina has outscored its 2 opponents 33-0 in the opening half.

The Panthers have 10 sacks and 3 interceptions via two weeks as well as defensive end Haason Reddick stated, “Today, we’re exceeding where I thought we would certainly be as a protection. … We’re just obtaining after it.”

Protective end Morgan Fox claimed that is since individuals have “bought in” to coordinator Phil Snow’s protective plan.

“When you have the back half covering very well that enables men to make plays as well as men in advance are learning how to hurry with each other,” Fox said. “It just mosts likely to reveal what everyone is secured as well as prepared to do their component.”

Darnold was strong, yet not best.

The Panthers remained in complete control until late in the 3rd quarter when Darnold virtually allowed the Saints back in the game. He attempted a shovel pass that defensive end Malcolm Cockroach intercepted and went back to the Carolina 18.

Winston took benefit 5 plays later on with an 8-yard touchdown run to reduce Carolina’s result in 17-7.

But the Panthers regained their calmness and put the Saints away after McCaffrey returned to the video game following missing two collection with leg cramping. He scored on an 11-yard go to help put the video game out of reach.


The Panthers are 2-0 for the initial time because 2017, which is additionally one of the most recent time they got to the playoffs.

Carolina has begun 2-0 7 times in franchise background, reaching the playoffs six of those seasons.

When asked if he assumes the Panthers are a playoff group, defensive end Brian Burns said, “Yeah, truths. I mean I’m not going to state we’re not. I count on my guys and also I rely on myself and also I would select us versus anybody.”


The Saints struggled in their first away video game with group sound leading to a handful of incorrect begin charges and other slips.

“I have to interact better as well as be louder,” Winston said. “Our very first time when traveling, I definitely need to utilize my voice to allow the offensive lineman recognize the protection and what we desire.”


Saints: Cornerback Marshon Lattimore (hand) and nickel back C.J. Gardner-Johnson (knee) were declared out prior to the video game.

Panthers: Left guard Rub Elflein left in the 2nd quarter with a hamstring injury and also did not return. He was changed by Dennis Daley.


Saints: at New England following Sunday.

Panthers: at Houston on Thursday evening.


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