The Carolina Panthers controlled the first three quarters of the game before the deep reserves squandered the lead in the fourth quarter, but Zane Gonzalez snuck in a 45 yard field goal to put the Panthers past the Washington Commanders, 23-21.
The mostly first team defense went up against the Commanders first team offense for the first two drives. They forced a three and out on the first drive and Jeremy Chinn forced a fumble that was recovered by rookie Amaré Barno on the fourth play of the second.
Baker Mayfield led the mostly first team offense down the field on the first drive, picking up three first downs, all on third down. The drive stalled out in the red zone though, and the Panthers settled for a field goal. Sam Darnold followed the Barno fumble recovery with a touchdown pass to Rashard Higgins on the Panthers second drive.
- To go along with his fumble recovery, Amaré Barno got a hit on Taylor Heinicke to force an interception late in the first half.
- Rooke tackle Ikem Ekwonu had a solid performance. He gave up a pressure on the Sam Darnold touchdown pass, but otherwise held up well.
- PJ Walker orchestrated the offense very well and led the offense to 10 points in three drives, all of which were 10 plays or more
- Myles Hartsfield made a couple of notable stops running with the ones and twos in the first half
- Giovanni Ricci was the only tight end to record a reception and led the whole team in catches, looking mobile and sure handed in the process
- Phil Hoskins was disruptive in the second half, registering a sack of his own and generating pressure leading to another for his teammates
- Matt Corral looked very uncomfortable in his debut. He was jumpy in the pocket, hesitant to pull the trigger, and inaccurate on his throws. He technically led the team into field goal range for the game winning field goal, but that was more due to Commanders penalties than anything the Panthers did.
It’s cool to win, and the top of the roster significantly outplayed the top of Washington’s roster. At the end of the day, preseason is preseason though.
The Panthers will be back in action next Friday night at the New England Patriots.