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Mayfield shines in his first start; Panthers riddled with injuries in win over Bills, 21-0

CHARLOTTE — Baker Mayfield completed 9 of 15 passes for 89 yards and two touchdowns and the Carolina Panthers defeated the Buffalo Bills 21-0 on Friday night in the preseason finale for both teams.

Mayfield, who was announced as the Panthers’ Week 1 starter earlier in the week, threw a 2-yard TD pass to D’Onta Foreman and a 19-yard scoring strike to wide receiver Shi Smith against Buffalo’s second-team defense.

The Panthers scored on two of four possessions with Mayfield at the helm.

The Bills rested all of their starters, including quarterback Josh Allen. The Panthers played most of their starters into the second quarter, although running back Christian McCaffrey sat out.

Case Keenum struggled to move the Buffalo offense, going 8 of 13 for 46 yards with one interception that the Panthers quickly converted into a touchdown.

After going three and out on the game’s opening series, Mayfield showed poise in the pocket leading the Panthers on a 12-play, 53-yard touchdown drive. After a play-action fake, he found Foreman in the right flat for an easy touchdown on fourth down.

After Jeremy Chinn intercepted Keenum’s pass that was tipped at the line by Yetur Gross-Matos, Mayfield connected with Smith over the middle for the score. Panthers coach Matt Rhule earlier this week called Smith “one of the true bright spots” of the preseason, adding that he has a chance to win a starting job.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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