Carolina Panthers win preseason debut over Chicago Bears
The Carolina Panthers began 2019 on a positive note against the Chicago Bears.
Carolina Panthers football returned on Thursday night in The Windy City and many of the offseason changes were immediately noticeable. After struggling to find wins down the stretch last year, general manager Marty Hurney made a concerted effort to improve the defensive front and provide quarterback Cam Newton more weapons on offense.
After a pedestrian start to the game, Carolina finally settled in and proved to be in command for much of the contest. Winning 23-13, the Panthers biggest issues were with Chicago getting points off turnovers and allowing big plays when it hurt the most.
The quarterback battle to backup Newton was on full display as Kyle Allen received the start but Will Grier and Taylor Heinicke each also took some snaps. Grier was the only one to toss a touchdown pass but it only served as atonement to an earlier interception. Fittingly, he found running back Elijah Holyfield around the right side, who had also fumbled his first carry of the game.
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That turnover gave the Bears their first points as Chase Daniel led Chicago down the field and running back David Montgomery found the end zone. The Bears led 7-6 with 6:58 remaining in the first half. An ensuing Panthers possession resulted in a Grier interception but the Bears eventually missed a field goal. Unfortunately, after playing well the Carolina defense gave up a big play just before the half and Chicago took a 10-6 halftime lead after an Elliott Fry 43-yard field goal.
A huge punt return by rookie wide receiver Terry Godwin set up the first Panthers touchdown of the season after the break courtesy of the aforementioned Grier to Holyfield connection. Carolina added three more on their next possession before Holyfield scored his second touchdown courtesy of the run game with 1:41 remaining. The Panthers controlled much of the second half bouncing back from a deficit and putting the game away with this late touchdown.
Carolina returns home next week with another preseason game versus the Buffalo Bills on Friday, August 16 at 7:00pm EST.