New York pulled the plug on its failed Sam Darnold experiment this offseason by trading the former third overall pick to Carolina. And wouldn’t you know it, he’s been brilliant in his debut season for the Panthers, leading Carolina to its first 3-0 start since 2015. Coincidentally, that was the last time Carolina reached the Super Bowl, ultimately losing to Peyton Manning (in his final NFL game) and the Denver Broncos.
The former USC Trojan delivered another gem Thursday night, rushing for a pair of touchdowns (the same number he had all of last season with the Jets) against the Texans, accomplished largely without the help of star running back Christian McCaffrey, who was lost to a second-quarter hamstring injury.
Of course, being the generous content fountain that he is, Darnold couldn’t leave Thursday night’s game without producing a viral gaffe, filling his weekly blooper quota with this laughably feeble attempt at blocking Jacob Martin.
Credit Panthers offensive coordinator Joe Brady for a creative first-down play-call, dialing up a double-reverse to receiver D.J. Moore that could have worked if Darnold had simply handled his blocking assignment. From the looks of it, however, Darnold didn’t want any part of Martin, folding like a house of cards as the 242-pound defensive end swallowed up Moore behind the line of scrimmage.
The 24-year-old was rightfully mocked for his questionable effort on the play, but obviously it didn’t affect the game’s outcome as Carolina cruised to a lopsided 24-9 rout of Houston in quarterback Davis Mills’ first career start. Next up, the Panthers will travel to Jerry’s World for a date with Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys in Week 4.