Sam Darnold and Robby Anderson had their Sunday revenge against the New York Jets, dooming to a sour start to the Robert Saleh era.
Sam Darnold’s two touchdowns in the late stages of the first half were enough to make a big difference in the Carolina Panthers’ 19-14 win over the New York Jets on Sunday afternoon in Charlotte.
Darnold, the Jets’ first-round pick from the 2018 draft, allowed Carolina to build a two-possession lead going into the halftime break through a 57-yard hook-up with fellow former bearer of green Robby Anderson and a five-yard scoring run that put the Panthers ahead 16-0. The Jets (0-1) fought back with two Zach Wilson touchdowns to Corey Davis but their inability to contain Christian McCaffrey (187 yards in his return from an injury-plagued 2020) led to their demise.
ESM has three silver linings for the Jets…
- QB Zach Wilson (20-of-37, 258 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT)
- WR Braxton Berrios (5 receptions, 51 yards)
- WR Denzel Mims (1 reception, 40 yards)
- LB Del’Shawn Phillips (12 tackles)
- S Michael Carter II (5 tackles, 1 TFL)
— Southland Conference (@SouthlandSports) September 12, 2021
3rd Star: DL John Franklin-Myers
3 tackles, 2 TFL, 1 sack
The Jets’ pressure left much to be desired on Sunday, which was probably to be expected in the first game post-Carl Lawson injury. Franklin-Myers did what he could to pick up the slack, however. He had two tackles behind the line of scrimmage including a sack of Darnold on a short third down that helped the Jets’ defense, reeling from consecutive scoring drives, start the second half on a three-and-out.
Zach Wilson's first career NFL touchdown pass goes to Corey Davis. After a 2-pt conversion (Wilson keeper on a nice zone read), #Jets trail the Panthers 16-8 with 1:19 to go in the third. @nyjetspic.twitter.com/WqxO62Tw2y
— Jets X-Factor (@jetsxfactor) September 12, 2021
2nd Star: WR Corey Davis
5 receptions, 97 yards, 2 TD
Davis is one of the Jets’ most intriguing veteran newcomers in the sense that he has something to prove: overshadowed by some prominent weapons in Tennessee, Davis is trying to show the NFL world he’s capable of consistent duties as a No. 1 receiver.
He lived up to the hype and then some on Sunday, becoming Wilson’s favorite target and helping guide the Jets’ offense back into the game. Davis was also a sense of comfort and stability for the slightly frazzled Wilson, who dealt with a relentless Carolina pass rush for a majority of the afternoon.
Davis opted to look at Sunday’s loss through an optimistic lens.
“We’re in the building process of this thing,” Davis said, per Brian Costello of the New York Post. “There’s going to be some growing pains. Obviously, we wish we could have had this one back but there’s a lot to learn from it.”
Matt Amendola with a 68-yard punt
— Bet The Pigskin (@betthepigskin) September 12, 2021
1st Star: K/P Matt Ammendola
6 punts, 48.5 average
When Ammendola arrived in Charlotte on Sunday, his days as a distance kicker at North Penn High School (the Lansdale, PA establishment where he played soccer) were long behind him. However, he was pressed into service when primary punter Braden Mann went down with a knee injury that kept him out for the remainder of the game.
The Jets are perhaps a bit too familiar with punter-related calamities on opening day…remember Tom Tupa’s emergency services in 1999?…but Ammendola helped them make the best of it. Pressed into six services when the Jets’ offense sputtered in the early going, Ammendola’s averaged ranked sixth amongst Sunday competitors. He also pinned Carolina inside its own 20 twice, including once on a 65-yard boot. Thus far, that ties Ammendola with Tampa Bay’s Bradley Pinion for the longest punt in this infantile season.
“Terrific job by him. I thought he punted the heck out of it for not really practicing it,” head coach Robert Saleh said of Ammendola’s moonlighting in Costello’s report. “He just stepped right in and did a really good job. Hats off to him. I wish we could have gotten him a field goal [opportunity] somewhere, but I thought he did a great job.”
Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags