Panthers bench Darnold in loss to Giants, Rhule wants more from QB

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — For the first time this season, Sam Darnold may have to start looking over his shoulder.

In fact, there may be a lot of guys on the Panthers who may be facing reduced playing time after Carolina dropped a 25-3 decision to the woeful New York Giants on Sunday.

Darnold is the obvious player under the microscope after the Panthers (3-4) did little on offense in dropping their fourth straight game with Christian McCaffrey sidelined. He was yanked in favor of second-year quarterback PJ Walker early in the fourth quarter after completing 16 of 25 passes for 111 yards and one interception.

Panthers coach Matt Rhule said Darnold, who came to Carolina in an offseason trade with the Jets, will be the starter next week at Atlanta (3-3), and for the time being.

“His sense of urgency this week, I expect to be heightened,” Rhule said of Darnold. “I try to put that sense of urgency on our coaches. Obviously, it didn’t show up. We have to coach better but our players have to play better as well. And that starts with the quarterback.”

After getting a field goal on the opening drive, the Panthers did very little. Their three points and 173 total yards were lows since Rhule took over for the 2020 season.

Rhule said the performance clearly was not what the team expected. He had said earlier in the week his team would stress the running game. It finished with 56 yards on 17 carries.

“I think quarterbacks go through ups and downs and highs and lows,” Rhule said. “Look at Daniel Jones. He went through the same kind of game probably last week. He came out and played great. Sam’s got to take care of the football and Sam’s got to throw on time and if it’s not there, find the check-downs.”

Despite not having most of his playmakers, Jones threw a touchdown pass, made a spectacular catch on a trick play and threw for 203 yards against a good defense. He did not turn the ball over.

Darnold said being lifted was not a surprise with the offense failing to get into a rhythm. He added he knew Rhule was just trying to spark the team with Walker.

Playing at MetLife Stadium for the first time since being traded by the Jets, Darnold said all he can do is get back to work. He was not embarrassed about being lifted.

“I’m going to go out there, I’m going to play football and give it all I’ve got for my teammates,” said Darnold, who also gave the Giants two points after being flagged for intentional grounding in the end zone in the second quarter.

Panthers center Matt Paradis also expects more from the offense.

“We are seven games in. We have to respond. It’s not a matter of think, or hope. We have to respond. We will respond,” he said, adding the offense still believes in Darnold.

The Panthers’ defense played well, limiting New York to 302 yards. New York scored five points in the first half with two coming off the intentional grounding and the other three coming on the first of Graham Gano’s three field goals. That came on the series after the safety.

New York’s only real drive covered 75 yards and 11 plays in the third quarter. The other 13 points came on drives of 19, 32 and 19 yards.

“I don’t know if we realize the position we’re in,” Rhule said. “You could tell New York certainly knew after last week the position they were in. Their backs were against the wall. They had a sense of urgency that we did not have. We’ll find that this week. We have to find it this week. We were not the tougher team today.”

Jones passing and catching, Giants D spark win over Panthers

Daniel Jones threw a 5-yard touchdown pass and made a spectacular one-handed 16-yard catch on the game’s only meaningful touchdown drive in leading the New York Giants to a 25-3 victory over the Carolina Panthers on Sunday.

Jones touchdown pass went to Dante Pettis and survived a very long replay review in helping the Giants (2-5) hand Carolina (3-4) its fourth straight loss with star running back Christian McCaffrey sidelined.

Pettis coincidently threw the slightly overthrown pass on the flea flicker which Jones caught with the finger tips of his throwing hand. Jones finished 23 of 33 for 203 yards and had six carries for 30 yards.

Graham Gano kicked field goals of 49, 53 and 44 yards against his former team as the Giants struggled to score touchdowns with wide receivers Kenny Golladay (knee), Kadarius Toney (ankle) and Sterling Shepard (hamstring) and running back Saquon Barkley (ankle) all inactive. Devontae Booker added a 19-yard TD run with under five minutes to play.

New York’s much-maligned defense had its best game of the season, limiting Carolina to 173 yards, forcing a safety on an intentional grounding, and getting an interception from James Bradberry, another former Panther. Rookie linebacker Azeez Ojulari had 2 1/2 of New York’s six sacks. Carolina was 2 of 15 on third downs.

The three points and 173 total yards are team lows since coach Matt Rhule took over last year.

The Panthers looked good on the opening series of the game. Former Jet Sam Darnold drove them 46 yards on 13 plays before settling for a 45-yard field goal by Zane Gonzalez that hit the upright but went through.

That’s was basically it for the game. Darnold, traded to Carolina in the offseason, was lifted in the fourth quarter after hitting 16 of 25 passes for 111 yards and the pick. PJ Walker finished up.

The Giants, who got their first home victory in four tries in 2021, thought they had a 2-yard TD pass from Jones to Kyle Rudolph in the second quarter. Replay showed the tight end short of the end zone and New York failed on three attempts from inside the 1-yard line.

New York did manage to get two points when Darnold was called for intentional grounding on a pass from the end zone under heavy pressure.

After the ensuing free kick, Jones hit Pettis on a 27-yard slant to set up Gano’s 49-yard field goal for a 5-3 edge that eventually gave New York its first halftime lead.

REVIEWS

The review of the Jones-Rudolph touchdown took less than two minutes. The one after the Jones-to-Pettis catch lasted longer than four minutes. It even seemed the call might be overturned but referee Carl Cheffers eventually said the call on the field was correct.

INJURIES

Panthers: C.J. Henderson (shoulder) and G John Miller (ankle) left in the second half with injuries. Miller did not return

Giants: Starting S/PR Jabrill Peppers hurt his right ankle on a third-quarter punt return. Starting OLB Lorenzo Carter hurt his left ankle but returned. T Matt Peart hurt a finger but returned quickly.

UP NEXT

Panthers: finish two-game road trip, facing Falcons in Atlanta.

Giants: at Kansas City for a Monday night game against the Chiefs.

(WATCH BELOW: Interview Part I: Carolina Panthers LB Jermaine Carter)