Carolina Panthers vs. New York Jets game recap: Everything we know

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So far, so (kinda) good for the 2021 Carolina Panthers.

Sunday’s opener wasn’t always pretty, but the cats pulled through with a close win over the visiting New York Jets. Although a more encouraging performance would’ve saw the Panthers dominate the league’s youngest team at the start of a rebuild, there’s not much to complain about at 1-0.

Here’s everything else to know about the opening victory.

Final score: Panthers 19, Jets 14

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Keys to the game

Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

  • The Panthers defense applied the pressure all afternoon long, sacking rookie quarterback Zach Wilson six times and holding the Jets to just 45 rushing yards.

  • Quarterback Sam Darnold took care of the ball, for the most part. Save for a second-quarter fumble at the New York 8-yard line, he threw no interceptions while completing 68.6 percent of his attempts.

  • He also completed one of those attempts to wideout Robby Anderson for a long 57-yard score. It was Robby's only catch, but it was a big one.

  • Running back Christian McCaffrey kept the offense moving with another Christian McCaffrey-esque performance, gaining 187 yards from scrimmage on 30 total touches.

It was over when . . .

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Up by five with a minute and 51 seconds to go, the Panthers needed a first down to stave off the Jets. They got one, as McCaffrey darted through the left side of his offensive line to ice up 18 yards and the win.

Players of the game

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

LB Shaq Thompson: ten total tackles, one interception, 1.0 sack, three pass deflections RB Christian McCaffrey: 21 carries, 98 rushing yards, nine receptions, 89 receiving yards QB Sam Darnold: 24-of-35, 279 yards, one passing touchdown, zero interceptions, one rushing touchdown

What's next?

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

The Panthers will stick around in Charlotte, N.C. and host the divisional rival New Orleans Saints next Sunday. [vertical-gallery id=640284]

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