The Carolina Panthers open up with back-to-back wins at home to start the new season 2-0. This victory was a big one against last year's NFC South winner–the New Orleans Saints. The Panthers have a short week ahead. They will travel to Houston to take on the Texans on Thursday Night Football.
Here are my initial reactions following Carolina's Week 2 win:
Panthers' defensive line continues to dominate
Last week the Panthers' defense got off to a hot start with six sacks against the Jets. This week the line picked up right where it left off with four takedowns on QB Jameis Winston. What was even more impressive than that was how they shut down the Saints' rushing attack. Carolina's front only allowed five yards on the ground to RB Alvin Kamara.
The front four weren't the only defensive players to get in on the action, either. The secondary was able to pick off Winston twice. First-round pick CB Jaycee Horn got his first career interception to ice the game in the fourth quarter. He dropped one earlier in the game which resulted in him knocking out some push-ups on the field.
Sam Darnold is heating up
QB Sam Darnold came out slinging the ball in the first half. He made some throws that prove the Panthers made the right decision moving on from QB Teddy Bridgewater this offseason. The 305 yards and two touchdown passes more than made up for his one bad interception.
WR DJ Moore has begun to emerge as Darnold's favorite target. It doesn't hurt to have RB Christian McCaffrey out of the backfield either. For the first time in his young career, Darnold has legitimate weapons and he is taking full advantage of them.
Second-half struggles continue
I might be nit-picking here but Carolina needs to do a better job putting teams away in the second half. Out of the combined 45 points that the Panthers have scored in the first two weeks, only 12 have come in the second half of games.
The Panthers do a good job of taking the lead early but tend to let teams back in the game. This will be something that they need to improve on as the season continues.
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