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Carolina News: Panthers finish season with 10-7 win at the buzzer


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According to Panther News,

The Panthers beat the Saints 10-7 Sunday at the Caesars Superdome, finishing the season 7-10 in unusual fashion.

Sam Darnold hit Terrace Marshall Jr. for a 21-yard gain with 19 seconds left to set up a 42-yard field goal by Eddy Piñeiro, overshadowing a sloppy day passing the ball.

Darnold finished the game 5-of-15 for 43 yards and two interceptions, by far his worst day in six starts this season. He had been one of the most efficient passers in the league since taking over five games ago, but that wasn’t the case Sunday. At least other than that one pass and just enough with his legs.

The win moved the Panthers to 6-6 under interim head coach Steve Wilks, who gave them a bit of life in the second half of the season (at one point winning four of six). But after last week’s loss at Tampa knocked them out of playoff contention, the increasingly banged-up Panthers appeared flat early, before the dramatic finish.

— In addition to the picks, Darnold also fumbled into the end zone, but that one turned out OK, as backup guard Michael Jordan recovered it for a touchdown in the third quarter.

It was the second fumble this season by Darnold that resulted in a touchdown, after he got on top of his own for the Holly Roller Part Two against Denver in his first start.


HIGHLIGHT: Eddy Piñeiro hits game-winning field goal as time expires

— The Panthers entered this game with a remarkable ironman streak on the offensive line.

It didn’t last.

Left guard Brady Christensen left in the first quarter with an ankle injury, was carted to the locker room and did not return. He was replaced in the lineup by Jordan, who started 10 games last year.

Near the end of the second quarter, right guard Austin Corbett limped off the field with a knee injury following a Darnold interception, and Corbett was replaced by rookie Cade Mays for the rest of the game.

Before Sunday, the starting line played every snap of every game this season, and they only used two starting lineups all year. Center Bradley Bozeman replaced Pat Elflein in Week 7, and that’s the only change they made.

Last season, the Panthers used 13 different line combinations in 17 games.

— There was some fight in the two teams in the third quarter, with a pair of players ejected.

Saints defensive end Marcus Davenport was in the face of a group of Panthers players after a run and appeared to shove tight end Ian Thomas in the back of the helmet. Panthers running back D’Onta Foreman turned angrily and threw a punch at Davenport’s helmet.

Both players were ejected.

Foreman had 12 carries for 67 yards before he was tossed, falling 87 yards short of 1,000 for the season.

— Veteran cornerback Josh Norman started the game for Keith Taylor Jr. and took a minute to get up to speed.

Norman was beat by Saints rookie Chris Olave for a 25-yard touchdown on the game’s opening possession.

The 35-year-old Norman didn’t play much in his first game back last week against the Buccaneers, getting just 10 snaps (and one in the first half) in that game.

— The Panthers were without four defensive starters to begin the game, with defensive end Brian Burns inactive with an ankle injury and Matt Ioannidis held out with a back issue. Along with cornerbacks Jaycee Horn and Donte Jackson finishing the year on injured reserve, it was a mixed group of personnel.

Linebacker Frankie Luvu continued to make plays, including a key fourth-down stop in the second quarter. Rookie defensive end Amaré Barno had a sack in the fourth quarter, and hit Burns’ signature Spider-Man pose to honor it.

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