Carolina Panthers quarterback Kyle Allen fell back to Earth against the Texans after his strong season debut against the Cardinals. He failed to find the end zone while fumbling the ball three times, all of which were recovered by the Texans. Ball security has been issue for the second year pro, as he’s now coughed it up five times in just two games.
Fortunately for Allen, he got plenty of help on Sunday. Offensively, Christian McCaffrey shouldered the load once again, converting 37 touches into 173 yards and a touchdown. He’s now leading the league with 629 yards from scrimmage, over 100 more than second place Dalvin Cook. Those yards are coming at a cost though—McCaffrey has racked up 111 touches on the young season, 19 more than any other player in the league. Walker touched on this yesterday, but there are reasons to be concerned about McCaffrey’s usage. As it stands right now, he’s on pace for 444 touches and 2,516 yards. The rest of the Panthers backfield combined is on pace to touch the ball ten times.
The defense were the heroes in this game. They limited a potent Texans offensive attack to just 10 points, the lowest output ever for a Deshaun Watson-led team in the regular season. The Panthers limited Houston to 264 yards of total offense and held Deshaun Watson to just 160 yards passing on 33 attempts.
The pass defense was phenomenal for the second straight week. The Panthers notched six sacks, giving them 14 over the last two weeks and 18 for the season, tied for the league lead. Mario Addison was credited with two of those, bringing his season total to 5.5, good for third in the league. Shaq Thompson, Bruce Irvin, and Vernon Butler all notched sacks of their own while Brian Burns and Javien Elliot were each credited with half a sack.
By tallying half a sack, Burns became the first rookie in Panthers history to record at least half a sack in three of his first four games. He needs two more sacks to move into second in the Panthers all time rookie sacks rankings, though he has a ways to go before he catches Julius Peppers’ 12 sacks as a rookie.
All that pressure on the quarterback has made the Panthers one of the best pass defenses in the NFL. They allow the fewest passing yards per game (156.8), the second fewest yards per attempt (5.2), and the fifth worst passer rating (74.4). That allows the Panthers to have the fourth best defense on a per-game basis and the second best defense on a per-play basis despite being underwhelming against the run. They’ll have a chance to boost those numbers next week against a middling Jaguars offense.