Panthers QB Sam Darnold dazzles in stunning first half vs. the Saints

(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Sam Darnold
(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Sam Darnold /

Sam Darnold continued to make a good impression during an outstanding first half for the Carolina Panthers against the New Orleans Saints.

Carolina Panthers quarterback Sam Darnold caught the eye yet again during a stunning first-half display against the New Orleans Saints. This was the first real test of the season for the signal-caller after last weekend’s triumph versus the New York Jets, so there was a real sense of anticipation to see what he could do in the face of better opposition.

The Saints were well below strength for the contest thanks to a series of key injuries to the likes of Marcus Davenport, Marshon Lattimore, and Kwon Alexander. But the production Darnold managed throughout the first two quarters was nothing short of exceptional.

Carolina managed to set the tone right out of the gate with a stunning opening drive that consisted of just five plays, going for 75 yards in three minutes, and ended with a Darnold touchdown pass to Brandon Zylstra.

This was exactly what the doctor ordered and got the Panthers’ fanbase on board as a result.

Sam Darnold was phenomenal throughout the half.

This clearly gave Darnold a tremendous amount of confidence. Something he put to good use as the half progressed.

Outside of the missed opportunity on third-down to Christian McCaffrey towards the end of the first, the USC product was absolutely flawless both in his decision-making and with the quality of distribution.

Darnold got D.J. Moore, Robby Anderson, and Dan Arnold involve plenty in the first half. One throw, in particular, to the Maryland product to move the chains was jaw-dropping.

Couple this with the Panthers’ defense once again containing Jameis Winston and Alvin Kamara thanks to yet more consistent pressure, and it was a recipe for a dominant first-half performance by Carolina against a team that was riding on the crest of a wave following their opening day triumph over the Green Bay Packers.

A late score to Moore was the icing on the cake for Darnold, who simply didn’t put a foot wrong.

The No. 3 overall selection in 2018 finished the first half with some unbelievable stats:

  • 18/20 passing (80%)
  • 216 passing yards
  • 2 touchdowns
  • 0 interceptions
  • 145.0 passer rating

Hopefully, this is something that progresses into the second half and Carolina avoids the sluggish third quarter that almost cost them last weekend.

Darnold was majestic. If he keeps this up, the Panthers might have found their signal-caller after all.

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