Panthers wrapup: Carolina defense dominating as first-time starting quarterback takes victory

By Richard Walker

Notes and observations from the Carolina Panthers’ 20-0 home win over the Detroit Lions that snapped a five game losing streak and improved the team to 4-7 overall:

… After going through pregame workouts, the Panthers made quarterback Teddy Bridgewater (right knee) inactive and gave rookie P.J. Walker his first start. Walker became the 20th starting quarterback in team history and the ninth of those quarterbacks to win his first Panthers’ start.

… Walker wasn’t making his first start in Charlotte. With current Panthers coach Matt Rhule as his head coach (and current Panthers defensive coordinator Phil Snow as defensive coordinator) and three other current Panthers’ teammates on the roster, Walker quarterbacked Temple to a 37-3 win over the Charlotte 49ers on Oct. 2, 2015 in his first start in the city. Walker completed 11 of 23 passes for 116 yards and two touchdowns (both to wide receiver Robby Anderson) on a rain-swept night as the remnants of Hurricane Joqauin came through the area. Walker, Anderson, wide receiver Keith Kirkwood and tight end Colin Thompson were the 2015 Temple players who are currently on the Carolina roster; Temple finished the season that started with the Owls’ first win over Penn State since 1941 with a 10-4 record.

… Who are the other quarterbacks who won their first starts with the Panthers? Steve Beuerlein (1996), Chris Weinke (2001), Rodney Peete (2002), Jake Delhomme (2003), Vinny Testaverde (2007), Matt Moore (2007), Derek Anderson (2014) and Will Allen (2018).

… The Panthers’ shutout was the seventh in team history – and first since 2015. Previously, Carolina shut out Tampa Bay (24-0 in 1996), New Orleans (13-0 in 1997), New York Giants (23-0 in 2006), St. Louis (15-0 in 2006), Kansas City (34-0 in 2008), New York Giants (38-0 in 2013) and Atlanta (38-0 in 2015). Two of the games came on the road – at New Orleans in 1997 and at the Giants in 2006 in a 2005 NFC Wild Card playoff game.

… A week after yielding the third-largest yardage total in history (544) in last Sunday’s 46-23 home loss to Tampa Bay, Carolina’s defense limited Detroit to 185 yards total offense and five rushing yards in the second half. Both totals were the lowest allowed since a 17-3 loss at Chicago in 2017 when the Bears had 153 total yards and five yards rushing in the second half.

… As expected, running back Christian McCaffrey (shoulder) missed his second straight game and eighth game of the season.

… The Panthers won by accomplishing a statistical feat that almost always turns into victories by rushing 34 times for 116 yards. In team history, Carolina is 150-29-1 in games in which they have 30 or more rushing attempts. They are 58-189 in games in which they have 29 or less rushing attempts.

… Carolina’s first touchdown drive – 10 plays for 95 yards – was the team’s longest of the season.

Next week:
Carolina visits Minnesota, Nov. 29 at 1 p.m.