In ’22 debut, Sam Darnold pushes Panthers past Broncos

Carolina’s Sam Darnold threw a touchdown pass and scored on a strange running play while the Panthers’ defense dominated in a 23-10 victory against the visiting Denver Broncos on Sunday afternoon in Charlotte, N.C.

Darnold (11 for 19, 164 yards) who had been injured in the preseason and then behind Baker Mayfield and PJ Walker in the pecking order, made good on his first chance in a role that he held last year.

D’Onta Foreman rushed 113 for yards on 24 carries and Eddy Pineiro kicked three field goals for the Panthers (4-8).

The Broncos (3-8) were limited to 246 yards of total offense in losing their third straight game. Russell Wilson completed 19 of 35 passes for 142 yards and a late touchdown.

Wilson was 6-1 against the Panthers while a member of the Seattle Seahawks.

The Panthers held the ball for more than six minutes on their first possession of the second half, driving 72 yards in 10 plays and scoring on Darnold’s bizarre 1-yard keeper. He dropped the ball, recovered the fumble and rolled into the end zone.

Carolina scored on its first possession of the fourth quarter on Pineiro’s 26-yard field goal.

The Panthers got the ball back on the ensuing kickoff when Jalen Virgil fumbled. That turned into Pineiro’s 36-yard field goal after Carolina chewed up nearly another 4 1/2 minutes.

The Broncos finally scored a touchdown at the end of a 14-play, 77-yard drive on Wilson’s 1-yard toss to Brandon Johnson with 3:19 left.

On an 11-play, 71-yard drive that lasted seven minutes, Darnold threw a 5-yard TD to DJ Moore with 30 seconds left in the first quarter for the game’s first points.

Brandon McManus’ 27-yard field goal for Denver and Pineiro’s 42-yarder accounted for the scoring in the second. McManus missed a 56-yarder on the last play of the half.

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