CHARLOTTE — Fans got their first look at the rebuilding Carolina Panthers on Sunday in the season-opening 34-30 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders. They rallied from a double-digit deficit to take a fourth-quarter lead, but couldn’t hold it.
Josh Jacobs’ third touchdown run of the day — from 6 yards out — proved to be the difference, giving his team a 34-30 lead with 4:08 to play. Carolina’s final drive ended when fullback Alex Armah was stuffed on a fourth-and-1 at the Las Vegas 46 with 1:22 remaining.
The loss spoiled the debut of Panthers rookie head coach Matt Rhule, who was previously a college coach. It was also the first game as a Panther for starting QB Teddy Bridgewater, who completed 22-of-34 passes for 270 yards and a touchdown without an interception.
Bridgewater’s favorite target was receiver Robby Anderson, who caught six passes for 115 yards — including a 75-yard touchdown.
Carolina’s Christian McCaffrey rushed 23 times for 96 yards and two touchdowns.
Defensively, Raiders safety Johnathan Abram had a game-high 13 tackles. Linebacker Shaq Thompson led Carolina with 12 tackles and rookie safety Jeremy Chinn had eight. Rookie first round pick Derrick Brown, a nose tackle out of Auburn, had three tackles, including a tackle for loss.
In his first NFL game, Carolina rookie punter Joseph Charlton was called upon twice and both of his boots covered 60 yards.
Carolina starting cornerback Donte Jackson injured an ankle against Las Vegas and is listed as questionable for the Panthers’ Week 2 game at Tampa Bay, according to cbssports.com.
Carolina’s Michael Schoffield started at left guard in place of the injured Dennis Daley (ankle). Schoffield played all 67 snaps on offense (snapcount.com), as did the rest of the line — right guard John Miller, center Matt Paradis, left tackle Russell Okung and right tackle Taylor Moton.
Chinn, a second-round pick, was the only rookie who played every snap (63) on defense for Carolina. Cornerback Rasul Douglas played 81% of the snaps after replacing the injured Jackson (11 snaps). Brown played 68% of the snaps and rookie second-round pick Yetur Gross-Matos started at end but played just 25% of the defensive snaps.