4 major observations from Sam Darnold’s performance at the Saints

(Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images) Sam Darnold
(Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images) Sam Darnold /
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Sam Darnold
(Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports) Sam Darnold /

Sam Darnold’s turnovers almost cost the Carolina Panthers

After a three-turnover performance in Week 17 at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, how Sam Darnold bounced back in his season finale would be telling. As it turned out, the same erratic production that’s blighted most of his five-year NFL career returned with a vengeance.

Darnold coughed up two interceptions at the New Orleans Saints. One came with a forced throw to D.J. Moore near the end zone and the other came very late in proceedings, which threatened to tip the scales against the Panthers before Andy Dalton fluffed his lines, too.

One could make an argument that the receivers should shoulder some blame. The offensive line was also without Brady Christensen and Austin Corbett through injuries suffered early in the contest, which took away Darnold’s consistent anchor across the protection that’s benefitted him greatly in recent weeks.

However, this was not a good performance from Darnold. The improved decision-making just wasn’t there this time and a passer rating of 2.8 is another glaring example of his lackluster effort.

The Carolina Panthers pulled it out of the bag late on, which stemmed from Darnold’s impressive throw to Terrace Marshall Jr. that brought them within field goal range. But the collective body of work from the man under center was his worst of 2022 by a considerable margin.