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NFL Week 9 Patriots vs. Panthers: New England’s defense stifles Darnold, beat Carolina 24-6

Related: Patriots vs Panthers preview: 4 matchups that could decide Sunday’s game

NFL: New England Patriots at Carolina Panthers Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

The New England Patriots have their first three game win streak since October of 2019.

At one point a 2-4 team, New England has rallied off three straight wins to help prove Matthew Judon’s point from a few weeks ago, that the Patriots were “better than their record.”

This time it was the Carolina Panthers who succumb to the Patriots, who seem to be a team on a mission. New England’s defense was able to stifle Sam Darnold, who just can’t seem to get away from those dastardly ghosts, while their offense was able to do enough to keep things afloat for the defense to stay ahead and continue their dominance.

Now, with a chance to keep the positive momentum going, New England will get ready for its biggest in conference test yet: the Cleveland Browns.

Final Score: Patriots (5-4) 24 : 6 Panthers (4-5)

November 7, 1:00p.m. ET | Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, NC | Broadcast information

Pregame

Inactives

Patriots Inactives: WR N’Keal Harry, TE Devin Asiasi, RB J.J. Taylor, CB Shaun Wade, LB Ronnie Perkins, OL Yasir Durant

Panthers Inactives: RB Royce Freeman, CB Stantley Thomas-Oliver, LB Kamal Martin, WR Shi Smith, DT Phil Hoskins, CB C.J. Henderson, G Pat Elflein

Not much has changed on the Patriots’ inactive list. Devin Asiasi, J.J. Taylor, Shaun Wade, Ronnie Perkins, and Yasir Durant will all stay on the list from last week, with N’Keal Harry joining them after suffering a knee injury during the week.

Both Christian McCaffrey and Sam Darnold are active for the Panthers after being questionable throughout the week.

Coin Toss

Matthew Slater got the call this week and of course went with heads. The coin came up tails and Carolina deferred its choice to the second half. New England starts with the ball.

First Quarter

Mac Jones and the Patriots offense would start with the ball at their own 25-yard line following a Zane Gonzalez touchback. They played the short game, as Damien Harris, Kendrick Bourne, and Mac Jones all got touches to give them a first down. On their following set of downs they were forced into a 2nd-and-25 situation following a pair of penalties on the Patriots offensive line. Jones handed off to Bolden in an effort to pick up some of the lost yardage and he got all of it back and then some, setting New England up with a 3rd-and-9. On third down Jones went to Jakobi Meyers, but a bobble cost New England the first down, as Meyers ended up one yard short. Bill Belichick decided to punt.

Carolina started at their own 20-yard line following a Jake Bailey touchback. They fed the ball to their star running back Christian McCaffrey to kick things off, as two straight carries netted them six yards. Carolina’s center Matt Paradis was injured and carried off the field following the second carry. On 3rd-and-4, the Panthers went to the air where Kyle Van Noy was able to bat down a Sam Darnold pass to force a punt. Carolina jumped before the kick and backed themselves up five yards before the kick.

Gunner Olszewski gave New England great field position with an 18-yard return to the Patriots’ 40-yard line. Keeping with the trend of killer penalties, Mac Jones was called for a delay of game and then sacked to push the Patriots offense behind the chains for the second straight drive. Rhamondre Stevenson picked up 12 yards on 2nd-and-19 , giving Jones a chance to hit Hunter Henry for a first down on 3rd-and-7. Another pre-snap penalty pushed New England behind the chains once again, eventually leading to a 3rd-and-16 in which New England couldn’t convert. The Patriots then punted from Carolina’s side of the field, where Justin Bethel was able to down the ball at the Panthers’ 5-yard line.

Sam Darnold hit D.J. Moore for a quick first down to give Carolina some breathing room before another pre-snap penalty pushed the offense back. It’s been an ugly game so far on both sides. On 1st-and-15, Darnold fumbled the snap and had to abort the play by throwing the ball away. After discussion, it was ruled that Darnold intentionally grounded the ball for yet another penalty. A run stuff by Davon Godchaux brought up a 3rd-and-25 for Carolina where they picked up just five yards and eventually punted it away to Gunner Olszewski who put forth another solid return around the 50-yard line.

A pair of early Damien Harris runs brought New England passed midfield, and set New England up with a third and manageable. Brian Burns flew off the edge to sack Mac Jones and force a fumble that Carolina was able to recover, setting them up with the ball at the New England 33-yard line.

Second Quarter

A pair of rush plays set Carolina up with a 3rd-and-2 at the New England 25-yard line where Christian McCaffrey was able to pick up enough yardage for the first down. A batted pass by Christian Barmore and run stuff by Adrian Phillips and Matt Judon set the Panthers up with a less manageable 3rd-and-12, where Darnold hit Robby Anderson for a gain of three yards. Zane Gonzalez came on for the 39-yard attempt and put it through. [Patriots 0 : 3 Panthers]

Gunner Olszewski returned the ensuing kickoff out to the New England 25-yard line and paid for it by taking a vicious hit. He was slow to get off the field. A quick hitter to Kendrick Bourne and Mac Jones sneak attempt gave the Patriots a first down, before Rhamondre Stevenson took a screen pass for 41-yards. They kept feeding Stevenson who picked up 21 more yards on three straight carries before Damien Harris could finish things off with a 3-yard touchdown run. [Patriots 7 : 3 Panthers]

Ameer Abdullah gained only 20 yards on his kickoff return, giving Carolina the ball at their own 20-yard line. Lawrence Guy forced a Sam Darnold throwaway, then made a tackle to force Carolina into 3rd-and-7 where Terrace Marshall dropped a screen pass, leading to a punt. Jakobi Meyers took over for Olszewski on the return and gained just 8-yards to bring the ball to the New England 30-yard line.

Stephon Gilmore intercepted Mac Jones on the second play of the ensuing drive, reading Jones’ eyes on a pick route and returning it to the New England 34-yard line. Some revenge for the former Patriot.

Ameer Abdullah and Christian McCaffrey combined for 16-yards on the next two plays to push Carolina into the red zone. Starting tackle Cameron Erving came out of the game following the McCaffrey run. They kept it on the ground with McCaffrey who gained two yards, before Panthers’ tight end Ian Thomas was called for taunting, pushing Carolina into a 2nd-and-23. Two Sam Darnold incompletions brought Gonzalez onto the field for another field goal attempt, this time he was good from 49-yards out. [Patriots 7 : 6 Panthers]

Rhamondre Stevenson replaced Gunner Olszewski as the kickoff return man, likely spelling the end of the day for Olszewski. Starting at the 25-yard line following a touchback, New England played fairly conservatively on first and second down before Jones floated a ball over the top of Shaq Thompson, and into the arms of Brandon Bolden for the first down. Another pre-snap penalty set New England behind the chains on their next set of downs, but that wouldn’t matter as Damien Harris, Jonnu Smith, and Brandon Bolden combined to picked up a first down on the ground. With :40 remaining in the half, Bolden scampered for another first down taking New England to the 12-yard line. On 3rd-and-5 from the seven, Jones uncorked a missile to Hunter Henry for the touchdown. [Patriots 14 : 6 Panthers]

The Panthers let the remainder of the clock run out on the half.

Third Quarter

Carolina opened the second half with the football, starting at their own 26-yard line following a short kick from Jake Bailey. A pair of short runs from Darnold and McCaffrey forced the Panthers’ offense into a 3rd-and-6 scenario that they could not convert on. Jakobi Meyers fair caught a Lachlan Edwards punt at the New England 27, but was given an extra five yards due to an illegal formation penalty on Carolina.

A negative gain on first down and throwaway on second down put New England behind the chains yet again on their first drive of the second half. New England essentially punted before there punt by handing it off to Brandon Bolden who gained just three yards. Jake Bailey’s booming 55-yard punt set Carolina up at their own 16-yard line. Matthew Slater was slow to get up on the play.

Christian McCaffrey picked up an early first down on a pair of runs to start Carolina’s next drive. Chuba Hubbard then took a short pass from Darnold 33 yards and into New England territory. They picked up yet another first down with Darnold hitting D.J. Moore across the middle for 13 yards. Just as Carolina was moving the ball, J.C. Jackson intercepted Darnold and took it 88 yards the other way for a touchdown. [Patriots 21 : 6 Panthers]

Back out onto the field after the pick-six, Carolina’s offense tried something new. D.J. Moore took a direct snap for a first down, before Christian McCaffrey fumbled the ball backwards for Ian Thomas to pick it up and take it to the 50-yard line for another first down. Then they put the ball back into Darnold’s hands for everything to fall apart. An incompletion, blown up screen, and interception followed. This time it was Jamie Collins who came down with it at the Carolina 43-yard line.

New England opened their next drive by taking a shot down the left sideline that drew a flag for pass interference. That set them up at the Carolina 30-yard line, where Rhamondre Stevenson would take a pair of handoffs into the red zone for another first down. The offense stalled from there, leading to a 37-yard field goal attempt and make from Nick Folk. [Patriots 24 : 6 Panthers]

Once again, Sam Darnold came out onto the field for Panthers, this time trailing by 18 points, having thrown two interceptions on his last four attempts. A first down holding penalty pushed Carolina back 10 yards, but McCaffrey was able to back-to-back short passes from Darnold for a total of 40 yards, moving them into Patriots’ territory. Two plays later, it was the end of the third quarter

Fourth Quarter

They continued to hit McCaffrey on the drive, this time for 17 yards to move them into the red zone. On the next play, Darnold was intercepted yet again by J.C. Jackson, ending a once promising drive.

Jackson’s interception resulted in a touchback, giving the Patriots’ offense the ball at the 20-yard line. Mac Jones hit Kendrick Bourne for a first down, before feeding Rhamondre Stevenson who picked up another first down and pushed New England past midfield. Stevenson stayed down following the play and eventually left the field with a head injury. Damien Harris replaced Stevenson, and continued to be fed as Stevenson was. On 4th-and-2, New England lined up in a fake punt formation with Jake Bailey at quarterback, trying to draw the Panthers off sides. Carolina didn’t budge, so New England called a timeout and brought the offense back onto the field, who converted with a Brandon Bolden run. After the conversion, Jones was called for his second delay of game penalty of the day. That put them behind the sticks on 1st-and-15, where they would continue to run the ball with Harris who was injured on a second down carry and eventually helped off the field. New England would go on to continue to run the ball until they could not convert, and eventually trotted Nick Folk out to attempt a field goal from 54-yards out, in which he missed.

Carolina was hit with a holding call on their first play of the next drive, backing them up ten yards. Par for the course during todays game. They continued to let Darnold sling it, eventually picking up a first down on short throws towards the sidelines. Eventually Darnold would be sacked by Judon, putting the Panthers in a situation where they would need to push the ball more down the field. Once that happened they stalled out and eventually turned it over on downs at the New England 42-yard line.

Brian Hoyer came in for Mac Jones on the next drive, content to hand the ball off to Brandon Bolden, who was the only back left for New England. Once Bolden was able to pick up a first down, Hoyer knelt out the clock and New England won it’s third straight game. [FINAL - Patriots 24 : 6 Panthers]