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Sam Darnold - Carolina Panthers - Houston Texans
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Darnold, Defense Lead Panthers Past Texans; McCaffrey Hurt

Sam Darnold #14 of the Carolina Panthers tries to get a pas around Jonathan Greenard #52 of the Houston Texans during the first half at NRG Stadium on September 23, 2021 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)

HOUSTON (AP) — Sam Darnold threw for 304 yards and ran for two touchdowns, and the Carolina Panthers eased past the Houston Texans 24-9 despite losing Christian McCaffrey to an injury early in the second quarter.

The Panthers are 3-0 for the first time since 2015 when they opened the season 14-0 and reached the Super Bowl.

Carolina’s top-ranked defense put the squeeze on Houston rookie Davis Mills in his first career start, sacking him four times and holding him to 168 yards passing.

Mills was pressed into action after Tyrod Taylor suffered a hamstring injury last Sunday and was placed on injured reserve.