Panthers rout Steelers backups 34-9 to conclude preseason
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Sam Darnold completed 19 of 25 passes for 162 yards and two touchdowns, and the Carolina Panthers defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers 34-9 on Friday night in the preseason finale for both teams.
Darnold, who saw his most extensive action of the preseason, spent most of the first quarter under duress despite playing against a defense that was resting all of its starters.
But the 2018 No. 3 overall draft pick acquired this offseason from the New York Jets stayed calm and rebounded, finding rookie Terrace Marshall Jr. for a 13-yard touchdown pass and Robby Anderson for an 8-yard score before exiting at halftime. D.J. Moore caught six passes from Darnold for 48 yards.
Christian McCaffrey sat out, but the rest of Carolina’s offensive and defensive starters played the entire first half.
With this being the Steelers’ fourth preseason game — most teams played three — coach Mike Tomlin rested all but four starters, including quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, wide receivers JuJu Smith-Schuster and Diontae Johnson, and running back Najee Harris. Even backup QB Mason Rudolph got the night off.
Dwayne Haskins started and struggled, completing just 9 of 16 passes for 108 yards with one interception and one late touchdown on Pittsburgh’s final drive.
COLTS 27, LIONS 17
DETROIT (AP) — Rookie Sam Ehlinger was knocked out of the preseason finale with a knee injury, delivering another hit on the Indianapolis Colts’ depth chart at quarterback.
With Carson Wentz recovering from foot surgery, Ehlinger is competing with second-year quarterback Jacob Eason to possibly take the team’s first snap in two weeks when the season opens.
Ehlinger was hurt in the first half after he was 3 for 3 for 63 yards, including a 60-yard pass after escaping a sack, and had a 14-yard run. Eason was 10 of 14 for 74 yards.
To keep Eason healthy for Week 1, the Colts let 28-year-old Brett Hundley finish the game under center and he took full advantage.
Hundley threw a 3-yard touchdown pass to Deon Jackson and the rookie running back rushed for a tying, 2-point conversion. A few snaps later, linebacker Curtis Bolton intercepted David Blough’s pass to set up Rodrigo Blankenship’s 42-yard field goal — his fourth of the game — that put Indy ahead 20-17.
Jackson converted a third down with a 42-yard touchdown run up the middle with 1:50 left, sealing a 3-0 preseason for the Colts.
Detroit fell to 0-3 under first-year coach Dan Campbell.
CHIEFS 28, VIKINGS 24
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Patrick Mahomes was nearly perfect night, throwing for 117 yards and two scores in his only two chances with the ball. Mahomes was sharper than he’d been his first two exhibitions, finishing 8 of 9 with the only miss a throwaway with nobody open. Mahomes capped his first series against Minnesota with a 35-yard throw to Tyreek Hill, who’d run right by former Chiefs cornerback Bashaud Breeland, then capped the second with a short TD pass to tight end Blake Bell.
Mahomes’ counterpart, Kirk Cousins, wasn’t nearly as effective for Minnesota. He led the Vikings to a field goal on his first offensive series but went three-and-out on each of the next two, finishing 5 of 7 for 57 yards. Cousins looked out of sync with his receivers and took a big loss on a sack by Anthony Hitchens.
Chiefs backup Chad Henne didn’t play Friday night, so Shane Buechele got plenty of work. The rookie was sharp driving KC for a TD and a 21-3 halftime lead, but Buechele also threw a pick-six to Parry Nickerson in the fourth quarter.
The Vikings’ defense scored two touchdowns during their three preseason losses. Their offense scored only one, a 32-yard scamper by backup running back A.J. Rose Jr. midway through the third quarter Friday night.
Derrick Gore answered with a 56-yard catch-and-run to help Kansas City finish 3-0 in the preseason.
EAGLES 31, JETS 31
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP ) — James Morgan threw a 49-yard Hail Mary to Kenny Yeboah as time expired and Josh Adams ran in the 2-point conversion to produce the tie.
The scores capped a stirring — and entertaining — comeback that had the Jets players and coaches celebrating wildly on the sideline as if they had won a playoff game.
The start was delayed 30 minutes because of strong storms that moved through the New York and New Jersey area. Air bubbles formed in spots on the rain-drenched MetLife Stadium turf a few hours before kickoff, but there appeared to be no issues during the game.
Most of the projected starters for both teams sat out — including quarterbacks Jalen Hurts for Philadelphia and Zach Wilson for New York — after the squads held joint practices at the Jets’ facility on Tuesday and Wednesday.
New York was trailing 24-10 when Ty Johnson had a 3-yard run up the middle for a score as time expired in the third quarter. Morgan, who replaced starter Josh Johnson after halftime, connected with Yeboah for a 21-yard touchdown with 6:59 left to bring New York within a point.
After an Eagles TD, New York got the ball back with 59 seconds remaining and sent the Jets fans home happy — with a tie.
More AP NFL coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL