The Patriots defeated the Carolina Panthers, 24-6, on Sunday to continue their win streak at three games and give themselves a winning record for the first time in 2021. The biggest reason for victory was a dominant defense that only gave up two field goals. Both Panthers’ field goals were set up Patriots turnovers that gave Carolina a short field.
Sam Darnold threw three interceptions. Two were intercepted by J.C. Jackson, one of which he returned for a touchdown. The other interception was one of the most athletics plays you’ll ever see; Jamie Collins jumped in the air at the line of scrimmage and instead of batting the ball down, snared it out of the air for an interception.
Darnold threw for a measly 172 yards and the running game was not much better. Carolina rushed for 72-yards and All-Pro running back Christian McCaffrey was bottled up all afternoon. The Patriots also held the Panthers to 3/11 on 3rd Down and 0/1 on 4th Down. In addition to their three interceptions, the Panthers punted three times and turned the ball over on downs once. Perhaps most impressively, Carolina only had two drives of more than 30 yards and both of those drives ended in Jackson’s interceptions.
The Patriots sit at 5-4 and have found different ways to win in order to get their season back on track, but one common theme has been impressive defense. New England held the Jets to 13 points, flummoxed the Chargers high-powered attack and dominated the Panthers on Sunday. Mac Jones and the New England offense has been better in recent weeks, but is still inconsistent and was not very good on Sunday. The Patriots definitely look like a playoff team and the defense is the driving force behind it.