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Sam Darnold of the Carolina Panthers
Sam Darnold led the Panthers to a win over the Texans on Thursday night. (Tim Warner/Getty Images)

It didn’t start out great, but Sam Darnold and the Carolina Panthers are still perfect on the year.

The Panthers, despite losing running back Christian McCaffrey in the second quarter at NRG Stadium on Thursday night, beat the Houston Texans 24-9 to secure a 3-0 start.

The night was made possible thanks to a huge showing from Darnold and wide receiver D.J. Moore — who finished with 126 yards on eight receptions. Darnold, who threw for 304 yards and completed nearly 68% of his passes, ran in a pair of touchdowns, too.

Darnold has now thrown for 888 yards so far this season, the best stretch so far in his NFL career.

Panthers stifle Texans, Davis Mills

The Panthers, after a pair of quick drives resulting in punts, scored first off a five-yard Darnold run — which closed out a 10-play, 88-yard drive.

Though Houston’s offense was essentially non-existent, the Panthers couldn’t capitalize off of it again until after halftime.

The Texans didn’t even cross midfield until their final drive of the first half, though it was by far their best through the first 30 minutes. Quarterback Davis Mills — who started in his first ever NFL game after Tyrod Taylor was placed on Injured Reserve earlier in the week — went just 4-of-5 for 19 yards to start the game.

In his final drive of the half, though, Mills went an impressive 5-of-6 for 60 yards before capping it with a one-yard pass to Anthony Miller for a touchdown.

Yet that drive, as impressive as it was, didn’t seem to carry any momentum into the second half for Houston.

The Panthers pushed their lead to eight after a seven-yard Tommy Tremble run midway through the third quarter, and made it a two possession game after a chip-shot field goal minutes into the fourth.

Darnold then pushed them to the 15-point win with a final one-yard touchdown run, his second of the game, late in the fourth to keep their winning streak alive.

Mills finished the day with 168 yards and a touchdown while throwing 19-of-28 for Houston. Mark Ingram led the Texans in rushing with just 21 yards on six carries, picking up exactly half of their yards on the ground.

Christian McCaffrey injured again after early run

Though they still got the win, Panthers fans may be without McCaffrey for the near future — something they’re all too familiar with.

McCaffrey left Thursday’s game in the second quarter after injuring his hamstring, and did not return. He appeared to tweak his leg on a short two-yard run, and was seen hopping awkwardly on his right leg before running out of bounds.

McCaffrey — who racked up a league-best 324 yards from scrimmage in the Panthers’ first two games — only played in three games last season with multiple injuries.

This post will be updated with more information shortly.

Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffreyCarolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey

Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey left early in the second quarter after injuring his hamstring Thursday night in Houston. (Leslie Plaza Johnson/Icon Sportswire/Getty Images)


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