What were the major observations from Carolina Panthers quarterback Sam Darnold’s performance at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 17?
Sam Darnold has gone from a forgotten man to the focal point in just a few short weeks. His much-improved performance levels have been a core component behind the Carolina Panthers’ recent success, something they were hoping would continue during their pivotal NFC South title showdown at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 17.
Darnold has momentum for the first time since his 3-0 start to life in Carolina following his trade from the New York Jets. If he could overcome a talented Buccaneers secondary, then his chances of earning a new deal would undoubtedly increase as a result.
This was the Panthers’ biggest game in some time and Darnold’s most important since entering the NFL. Despite some strong numbers, the signal-caller was unable to get the better of Tom Brady as Carolina faltered in its bid for postseason football.
With that in mind, here are four major observations from Darnold’s performance at Raymond James Stadium.
Major Observation No. 1
Sam Darnold’s perfect start
The Carolina Panthers set the tone with an impressive opening drive that saw Sam Darnold emerge with a perfect 158.3 passer rating. His accuracy was on point and there was a real conviction in the player’s delivery that concluded with a nice touchdown pass to Tommy Tremble.
Unfortunately, things weren’t nearly as easy thereafter. Going away from the run game didn’t help, but nothing much went right for a team that held complete command until the fourth quarter.