CHARLOTTE, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) – Sam Darnold looked formidable in his first start of the season and a stout defensive showing led the Panthers past a futile Broncos team, 23-10, at Bank of America Stadium Sunday.

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“We had an exceptional week of preparation,” Coach Wilks said after the victory. “We have to go out and execute and I thought we did that today in all phases, some great things showed up.”

Darnold’s passing game was for the most part quiet up until an impressive 52-yard connection with DJ Moore that put the Panthers (4-8) on the Broncos’ 9-yard line late in the 4th quarter. They’d settle for a field goal. On the next sequence, the Panthers forced a fumble and were able to convert the turnover into 3 more points and a controlling 23-3 advantage.

Denver (3-8) finally scored its first TD when Russell Wilson connected with Brandon Johnson with 3:19 to go.

Carolina picked up the momentum on its first touch of the second half scoring behind a 70-yard drive from Darnold when Darnold recovered his own fumble in the endzone for a 17-3 lead.

“I thought he did a good job today,” Wilks said complimenting Darnold. “Managed the game, ran the offense efficiently. On the surface, pretty good.”

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The defense kept the pressure on the former Super Bowl champ Wilson for the good portion of the game Sunday with multiple balls swatted down at the line of scrimmage, a slew of near-interceptions, and two fumble recoveries.

Brian Burns, who recorded his career-best 10th sack of the season, appeared to suffer an injury late in the 4th quarter, left the game, and went into the medical tent on the sidelines only to return a short time later.


Darnold finished with 164 yards on 11-of-19 completions with one TD. Wilson finished with 1 TD and 142 yards on 19-of-35 completions. He was sacked three times.

The Panthers have a bye week and then are back in action in Seattle against the Seahawks (4:30 p.m., Fox Charlotte).