The Carolina Panthers accomplished something they haven’t done since 2018—they won their final game of the regular season. But it feels like it was done in spite of soon-to-be free-agent quarterback Sam Darnold.
Although the entire offense struggled mightily against a stout New Orleans Saints defense, the fifth-year passer looked particularly bad. Darnold completed five of 15 passes for a measly 43 yards and tossed two interceptions.
It was a rough afternoon for the overwhelmed quarterback, who had pressure in his face all afternoon and eventually ate a pair of sacks. So Sunday was not the potential going-away party Darnold was hoping for, as he looked closer to the 2021 version of Sam than the resurgent 2022 one.
Though it’s hard to entirely blame the offensive output on Darnold given how well the Saints defense played, Darnold still missed a handful of key throws—including some head-scratching deep shots into tight coverage. Luckily for the Panthers, though, their defense showed up in a big way to keep their chances afloat.
Week 18 was a tough hit to Darnold’s résumé, and it might be difficult to convince anyone in this front office to bring him back as a potential starter after this big of a stinker. Ultimately, however, it was one game in an otherwise solid string of starts for the former third overall pick.
Final Week 18 grade: D-