Studs and duds from the Panthers’ 24-9 win over the Texans

·3 min read

In their only primetime game of the season, the Carolina Panthers rose to 3-0 with a messy win over the Houston Texans. Led by the Sam Darnold-DJ Moore connection and dominant defensive performance, they controlled the pace throughout for a 24-9 victory.

Here are our studs and duds from Thursday night’s game.

Stud: DJ Moore

Aside from a brief injury scare, things looked really good for the Panthers’ No. 1 receiver. Moore finished the game as the team’s leading receiver, totaling 126 yards on eight receptions.

The fourth-year wideout took over running back Christian McCaffrey’s role as the focal point of the offense, quickly establishing a strong connection with Darnold. Because we’re ungrateful football fans, though, we’ll add that he could’ve had even more yardage on another chunk play that ended up as an overthrown deep shot by Darnold in the fourth quarter.

Dud: Injuries

From McCaffrey to cornerback Jaycee Horn to Moore, the Panthers suffered some significant injuries on both sides of the ball. The most significant of the three appeared to hurt Horn, who was carted off the field with a broken right foot.

McCaffrey was also ruled out of the game with a tweaked hamstring, so we’ll be tracking his injury status over the next few days.

Stud: Chuba Hubbard

For better or worse, the rookie Chuba Hubbard has emerged as the Panthers’ clear backup running back. Despite an initially ineffective rushing attack with Hubbard at the helm, offensive coordinator Joe Brady and company continued feeding him the football rather than opting for a committee of backs.

Luckily, Hubbard saw more success as the game went on, finishing with 11 rushes for 52 yards and adding 27 more through the air on three catches.

Dud: Robby Anderson

Simply put, Robby Anderson has almost been a non-factor in the Panthers’ offense thus far this season. Moore and McCaffrey have commanded the team’s receiving game, and Anderson has been left in the dust.

What makes his lack of receptions more surprising, though, is his historical chemistry with Darnold. That and the fact that Carolina is still establishing its offensive identity should give fans hope that Anderson can bounce back from a slow start to the season.

Stud: Sam Darnold

Darnold hasn’t been a superstar, but through three games, he’s been everything the Panthers have needed him to be. The fourth-year quarterback and first-year Panthers starter threw for 304 yards on a 67.6-percent completion rate, adding two rushing touchdowns and ending with a 95.7 quarterback rating.

Aside from a couple of misfires, Darnold looked sharp throwing the football, connecting with nine different players on catches ranging from check-downs to a 30-yard completion to Tommy Tremble.

Dud: Penalties

The defensive line is usually a stud for the Panthers, but today, they fell victim to a few too many offsides penalties. The line accrued around four of the kind Thursday night, which, unless the unit quickly regains its discipline, will definitely lead to trips to the DBO sign this week in practice.

Aside from the penalties, we saw flashes of the line’s potential once again, highlighted by Haason Reddick, Frankie Luvu and Brian Burns turning in at least a sack each.

Stud: Zane Gonzalez

The Panthers may have finally found stability at the kicking position. The veteran Zane Gonzalez had a perfect day, going three-of-three on extra points and one-of-one on his lone field goal attempt from 21 yards out.

The Panthers’ former kicker, Joey Slye, missed an early extra point for Houston, though he drilled a 53-yarder through the uprights later in the contest.

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