Rapid Reactions: Kyle Allen leads Panthers to first win of 2019


The Big Headline

How about a homecoming for quarterback Kyle Allen?

In just his second career start, the Arizona native lit it up in front of his hometown crowd, leading the Panthers to their first win of the season. Allen finished 19-for-26 for 261 yards and four touchdowns.

With quarterback Cam Newton sidelined for the time being, Allen took full advantage of his opportunity. Allen recorded just the 11th four-touchdown game in franchise history, and the team's first since Newton accomplished it against Green Bay in 2017.

Allen's passer rating of 144.4 was the highest by a Panthers quarterback since Newton's 153.3 rating against the Falcons on December 13, 2015.

Offense stretches the field and shares the love

So this is what Norv Turner's vertical passing game looks like…not too shabby. With a healthy quarterback under center, Turner let the offense unleash the deep ball, and Allen certainly impressed.

In the Panthers opener, running back Christian McCaffrey carried the offense. Then, in game two, no one did.

But this week, the offense worked exactly how Turner intended: by committee. It seemed like everyone on the offensive depth chart was involved. Four players found the end zone and seven different receivers caught passes. Of those seven, tight end Greg Olsen, wide receiver Curtis Samuel and wide receiver DJ Moore all recorded over 50 receiving yards.

On the ground, McCaffrey got things back to normal, recording 153 rushing yards and a touchdown on 24 attempts. His 76-yard touchdown run helped open the game up in the second half, as McCaffrey broke the franchise record for longest touchdown run.

Defense exposes Arizona O-line

It was no secret Arizona's offensive line was a weak link. The Panthers defense knew they could attack it, and that's exactly what they did.

After tallying just four sacks through the first two games, the Panthers defense racked up eight sacks, nine QB hits and 10 tackles for loss. Defensive end Mario Addison led the way with three sacks. Sunday marked the most sacks in a game since 2016, when Carolina also had eight against Arizona.

Winning the turnover battle

It looked like trouble for the Panthers early on when Cardinals' defensive end Chandler Jones sacked Allen and forced a fumble on the game's opening drive.

But thanks to two second-half interceptions from cornerback Donte Jackson, the Panthers were able to win the turnover battle for the first time this season. Jackson first picked off Cardinals' quarterback Kyler Murray to close out the third quarter, adding on a 25-yard return and setting up a Panthers touchdown. Then, late in the fourth quarter, Jackson shut down any comeback attempt by showing off a ridiculous vertical jump and bringing down his second interception.

Since 2016, the Panthers are 19-2 when winning the turnover battle, and Sunday was no exception.

Rotation at left tackle

Rookie Greg Little was active for the first time Sunday, and he made his way into the rotation at left tackle.

After struggling in the Thursday Night Football loss to Tampa Bay, Daryl Williams started the game. The offensive line gave up the early strip-sack, and Little entered for the third series. The second-round pick from Ole Miss was out there in place of Williams for the next two series as well.

The two tackles then alternated as the second half wore on. It'll be interesting to see if Carolina continues with this kind of rotation going forward.

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