Sam Darnold led the Panthers to a "Thursday Night Football" victory over the Texans, giving the team its first 3-0 start since 2015.
Darnold completed 23 of 34 passes for 304 yards and rushed for two touchdowns to help visiting Carolina take down Houston 24-9. He connected with wide reciever D.J. Moore eight times for 126 yards while consistently driving the ball downfield.
Houston's defense did manage to sack Darnold three times. Jonathan Greenard had one of them, a strip-sack (Carolina recovered the fumble). Zach Cunningham led the Texans with 14 total tackles.
Texans rookie quarterback Davis Mills toughed it out in his first NFL start. He completed 19 of 28 passes for 168 yards and his first career passing touchdown, a 1-yarder to Anthony Miller in the second quarter. Mills also hit Brandin Cooks nine times for 112 yards. He adjusted well to being in a leadership role in place of injured starter Tyrod Taylor, and he showed potential that he can keep the Texans' offense moving.
The Panthers suffered a series of injuries in the win. Star running back Christian McCaffrey (hamstring strain) left in the second quarter. Safety Justin Burris (groin) and cornerback Jaycee Horn (broken foot) were injured on consecutive plays to start the second half. All three players' timetables for returning are unclear.
Both teams will be on the road in Week 4; the Panthers are scheduled to face the Cowboys in Arlington, Texas, and the Texans will travel to Orchard Park, N.Y., to face the Bills.
Sporting News provided scoring updates and highlights from the Panthers vs. Texans Week 3 "Thursday Night Football" matchup.
Panthers vs. Texans score
Panthers vs. Texans live updates, highlights from 'Thursday Night Football' game
(All times Eastern)
Final: Panthers 24, Texans 9
11:15 p.m.: Carolina takes a knee with two minutes remaining to run out the clock. Panthers start 3-0 for the first time since 2015.
11:12: Dontae Jackson completes a throw from Mills short of the first down marker. The Panthers take over from a turnover on downs at their own 42.
11:08: Following a series of incomplete passes, the Texans are forced to punt. Carolina calls a time out with 2:38 remaining.
11:05: TOUCHDOWN PANTHERS. Sam Darnold rushes through a dogpile into the end zone for a touchdown. After the extra point, Carolina leads 24-9.
11:02: Houston takes a time out as the Panthers attempt to score on third down from the one-yard line with just over four minutes remaining.
10:51: FIELD GOAL TEXANS. A 53-yard field goal from Joey Slye cuts the Panthers lead to a one-possesion game. Carolina leads 17-9 with just over nine minutes remaining.
10:50: Haason Reddick rushes into Mulls for the sack, and forces the Texans to attempt for a field goal.
10:43: FIELD GOAL PANTHERS. Zane Gonzales makes a 21-yard field goal following the time out. Carolina leads 17-6.
10:41: Carolina takes a time out at fourth down with 12:47 remaining. D.J. Moore is caught limping on the sideline, and is being attended to.
10:39: Tremble completes a pass from Darnold for 30 yards, giving the Panthers a first down at the 12.
Love us some Tommy Tremble content— Carolina Panthers (@Panthers) September 24, 2021
📺: NFL Network pic.twitter.com/INuooYBlsK
End third quarter: Panthers 14, Texans 6
10:35: A pass interference call against the Texans gives the Panthers the first down at the Houston 42.
10:30: Sam Darnold makes a 33-yard run out of bounds, but is called back for second down and 18 because of a holding call against the Panthers.
10:25: Frankie Luvu dives to take down Mills for the sack, and forces the Texans to punt again. The Panthers take over at their 41.
10:20: TOUCHDOWN PANTHERS. Tommy Tremble carries it in for his first NFL touchdown to help extend the Panthers lead with under seven minutes remaining in the quarter. Carolina leads 14-6.
Tommy Tremble got some wheels!!!— Carolina Panthers (@Panthers) September 24, 2021
📺: NFL Network pic.twitter.com/cq804KH3DB
10:15: Following a rush that gives the Panthers a first down at the Houston 33, Blacklock goes down with an injury and is being attended to on the field.
10:12: As Darnold escaped from the pocket and slides down, Christian Kirksey hits him helmet-to-helmet and is called for a personal foul penalty.
10:08: Texans are called for a delay of game penalty, then punt on fourth down. the Panthers take over at their own 10.
10:05: Jaycee Horn makes a tackle, then goes down with an apparent injury. He was carted off of the field with trainers attending to him.
10:02: A pass interference call against Panthers Dontae Jackson gives the Texans an automatic first down at the 45.
10:00: Anthony Miller completes a pass from Mills to give the Texans the first down at their 40.
9:57: Houston takes over at their own 23 to kick off the second half.
Halftime: Panthers 7, Texans 6
First downs: Panthers 12, Texans 7
Total plays: Panthers 35, Texans 25
Total yards: Panthers 187, Texans 108
Yards per play: Panthers 5.3, Texans 4.3
Time of possession: Panthers 17:24, Texans 12:36
9:42: Blacklock takes down Darnold and forces a fumble, but is recovered by Carolina to end the half.
9:38: TOUCHDOWN TEXANS. Mills completes to Miller in the back of the end zone for his first touchdown in the league. After a missed extra point, Carolina keeps their lead 7-6.
9:37: Houston takes their final time out of the half with under 30 seconds remaininng in the half. The Texans are first down at the two.
9:35: Mills completes to Cooks for a gain of 30, allowing the Texans to approach Panthers' zone for the first time.
9:31: Whitney Mercilus sacks Darnold for a seven-yard loss on third down. The Panthers are forced to punt, and the Texans will take over at their own 36.
9:27: After another 45-yard punt from Cam Johnston, the Panthers take over at their own 26 with around two minutes remaining in the half.
9:21: Andre Roberts fumbles the ball on the return and recovers for the Texans, totaling his second fumble in two weeks.
9:18: Jonathan Greenard takes Darnold down and Desmond King breaks up the pass to force third down and 15.
9:12: Texans punt for the third time as they fail to gain any offensive momentum with under seven minutes remaining in the half.
9:08: Christian McCaffery left the field with a hamstring injury, and will be benched for the remainder of the game.
9:04: Texans make a big stop to force a turnover on downs from their own five.
9:01: D.J. Moore totals 100 recieving yards on six completions with 12 minutes remaining in the half.
End first quarter: Panthers 7, Texans 0
8:51: D.J. Moore completes his eighth pass from Darnold for 13 yards to give the Panthers the first down at their own 28.
8:39: TOUCHDOWN PANTHERS. Sam Darnold keeps the ball and rushes into the endzone to tally his second rushing touchdown of the season. He effectively drove the Panthers down the field for 88 yards on 10 plays. Panthers start with an early lead 7-0.
8:36: As Darnold was frantically running from the pocket, he found D.J. Moore to complete for 29 yards.
8:33: Sam Darnold keeps the ball on the carry to get the first down at the Houston 25.
8:28: Following a punt from the Panthers in their opening drive, Davis Mills takes the field at the Houston 36 for his first career NFL start.
8:21: Texans won the toss and they choose to defer. Panthers take over at the 25.
How to watch Panthers vs. Texans
- Kickoff time: 8:20 p.m. ET | 7:20 p.m. CT
- TV channel (national): NFL Network
- Live stream: NFL Network, fuboTV
The Texans are expected to kick off their matchup with the Panthers at 8:20 p.m ET (7:20 p.m. CT). NFL Network's coverage, produced by Fox, will feature Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Erin Andrews and Kristina Pink on the call.
The Texans will host the Panthers at NRG Stadium in Houston.
'Thursday Night Football' schedule 2021
|4||Sept. 30||Cincinnati Bengals vs. Jacksonville Jaguars||NFL Network|
|5||Oct. 7||Seattle Seahawks vs. Los Angeles Rams||Fox, NFLN, Amazon|
|6||Oct. 14||Philadelphia Eagles vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers||NFL Network|
|7||Oct. 21||Cleveland Browns vs. Denver Broncos||Fox, NFLN, Amazon|
|8||Oct. 28||Arizona Cardinals vs. Green Bay Packers||Fox, NFLN, Amazon|
|9||Nov. 4||Indianapolis Colts vs. New York Jets||Fox, NFLN, Amazon|
|10||Nov. 11||Miami Dolphins vs. Baltimore Ravens||Fox, NFLN, Amazon|
|11||Nov. 18||Atlanta Falcons vs. New England Patriots||Fox, NFLN, Amazon|
|12||Nov. 25||New Orleans Saints vs. Buffalo Bills||Fox, NFLN, Amazon|
|13||Dec. 2||New Orleans Saints vs. Dallas Cowboys||Fox, NFLN, Amazon|
|14||Dec. 9||Minnesota Vikings vs. Pittsburgh Steelers||Fox, NFLN, Amazon|
|15||Dec. 16||Los Angeles Chargers vs. Kansas City Chiefs||Fox, NFLN, Amazon|
|16||Dec. 23||Tennessee Titans vs. San Francisco 49ers||NFL Network|
|16||Dec. 25 (Sat.)||Green Bay Packers vs. Cleveland Browns||Fox, NFLN, Amazon|
|16||Dec. 25 (Sat.)||Arizona Cardinals vs. Indianapolis Colts||NFL Network|