And while some writers still went a little rough on Carolina - particularly NBC Sports, which labelled Panthers coach Matt Rhule a “coward” - it was generally positive reviews.
Aggregating several rankings from around the Internet, the Panthers come out to an average ranking of No. 24 in the 32-team NFL.
Let’s check out what outlets around the league are saying about the Panthers after Week 2:
NFL.com: No. 25 (was 27)
Sam Darnold got his Revenge Game, but the most exciting development to come out of a 19-14 win over the Jets was a Carolina defensive front seven that used speed and athleticism to completely outclass its opponent. Brian Burns and Shaq Thompson led a swarming Panthers defense that had rookie Zach Wilson running for his life from the first series. Darnold overcame some early miscues to deliver a strong performance in his Panthers debut, while Christian McCaffrey — a ho-hum 187 total yards — was back to looking like the best running back in football. These Panthers could be frisky.
NBC Sports: No. 26
Your NFL Coward of the Week award goes to Matt Rhule who elected to punt the ball on fourth-and-6 from the Jets’ 33-yard line. Week 1’s Surrender Index gold medal. Congrats.
CBS Sports: No. 23 (was 28)
They did some good things in beating the Jets, but they have to be better than that going forward. It sure has to be good to have Christian McCaffrey back running the football.
ESPN: No. 23 (was 25)
[Jaycee] Horn wasn’t perfect, as he did give up an 8-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter, but that was on a perfect pass from Zach Wilson to Corey Davis. What he didn’t do in playing all but one defensive snap was give up anything big down the field. He kept the plays in front of him and his man-to-man coverage allowed the defensive front to pressure Wilson. Not a bad start for the son of former NFL receiver Joe Horn. — David Newton
Sporting News: No. 25 (was 25)
The Panthers didn’t look like a well-oiled offensive machine with Sam Darnold against his former team, but luckily Christian McCaffrey turned on the jets to beat the Jets. The young defense still is a work in progress trending in the right direction.
Pro Football Network: No. 25
Sam Darnold looked good in his revenge game against his former team. He went 24/35 for 279 yards and a touchdown. The young Carolina defense dominated the Jets’ offense today. They allowed just 252 total yards and held the Jets to 14 points. The Panthers challenge the New Orleans Saints in Week 2, which could spell trouble, as the Saints mollywhopped the Green Bay Packers in Week 1.
Yahoo! Sports: No. 25
Good to see Sam Darnold and Robby Anderson get their revenge. The fact is the Jets are not a true test for any team. The Panthers, however, have a solid offense and the defense pounded a rookie QB. Next: vs. Saints.
New York Post: No. 23 (No write-up)
Czikk’s view: No. 25
In general I liked what I saw from Darnold and the offense. Having the Jets as a Week 1 matchup was a nice favor from the football gods. The Panthers sharpened their claws on a young, not very good Jets team, and they took a win that many expected them to take. Now we’ll really see what the Panthers are all about on Sunday when they welcome Jameis Winston and the New Orleans Saints to Bank of America Stadium.