4 critical observations from the Panthers win vs. Broncos in Week 12

(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Frankie Luvu
(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Frankie Luvu /
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Carolina Panthers
(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Sam Darnold /

Sam Darnold surprised on his Carolina Panthers’ return

When interim head coach Steve Wilks announced that the Carolina Panthers were starting their third quarterback of the season, it was met with no surprise. Especially following the lackluster performance from Baker Mayfield in Week 11.

After recovering from the high ankle sprain suffered in the preseason finale it was the first look at Sam Darnold during regular season action since Week 17 in 2021 when the signal-caller started in a 41-17 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Heading into this clash, expectations were tempered for Darnold as he was going up against the league’s best defense in terms of scoring allowed. What we saw from the quarterback surprised many.

The former New York Jet was solid, ending the game with 164 passing, two scores, and more importantly no turnovers.

We immediately witnessed Darnold rekindle his relationship with D.J. Moore, who has struggled this season forming little to no relationship with Mayfield during his time under center. The wide receiver finished the contest with four receptions for 103 yards and a touchdown, giving Patrick Surtain II endless problems throughout.

Considering Moore has three consecutive campaigns of over 1,000 receiving yards, it’s a surprise that Mayfield struggled to get the ball in his hands. Something that’s already seen Wilks confirm Darnold as the starter in Week 14 at the Seattle Seahawks.