Panthers defeat Washington 20-13, take away hopes to clinch NFC East

Dismiss
Carolina Panthers v Washington Football Team

Source: Mitchell Layton / Getty

Panthers quarterback Teddy Bridgewater threw for 197 yards and a touchdown as Carolina snapped a three-game losing streak with a 20-13 victory over the Washington Football team on Sunday.

Mike Davis rushed for only 28 yards with one touchdown, but broke the 1,000-yard mark from scrimmage for the first time in his NFL career. The South Carolina alum and 49ers’ fourth round selection in 2015 has also rushed for a career-high 642 yards in the absence of Christian McCaffrey.

In a game Carolina never trailed, they jumped out to a 6-0 lead late in the first quarter with a special teams touchdown by Brandon Zylstra. Steven Sims was hit fielding a punt and the football rolled into the end zone with the Panthers receiver recovering the fumble for the score. Joey Slye missed the PAT.

A 1-yard touchdown run by Davis, along with a 14-yard strike from Bridgewater to Roby Anderson on consecutive drives gave the Panthers a 20-0 lead with 3:06 before halftime. Dustin Hopkins stopped the drought for Washington by knocking through a 48-yard field goal. Carolina took a 20-3 lead into halftime, but were shut out in a defensive battle in the second half.

Another Hopkins field goal from 26 yards out was the only points by either team in the third quarter. Dwayne Haskins was pulled by coach Ron Rivera midway through the fourth quarter and was replaced by Taylor Heinicke. The former Old Dominion grad connected with J.D. McKissic for a 29-yard touchdown pass with 1:50 left. Carolina sealed the win after D.J. Moore recovered an onside kick by Hopkins on the ensuing possession.

“What was frustrating was we just didn’t play championship-caliber football,” Rivera said. “We still control our destiny. That’s the truth of the matter. We have one more game to play. It’s a very important game.”

The Panthers (5-10) get a rare win on their last road game of 2020 after dropping eight of their last nine games. Carolina welcomes the NFC South champion New Orleans Saints to Bank of America Stadium for a season finale on Sunday, Jan. 3 (4:25 p.m. ET/ Radio: WBT).

“Lots of things happen early in the year, but the good teams in December,” Panthers coach Matt Rhule said. “They run the football, they play defense, they take the ball away.”

The first meeting between Ron Rivera and his former team. The one-time Panthers coach has led Washington (6-9) to a tie for first place in the NFC East with one game remaining at Philadelphia on Sunday (8:20 p.m./TV: NBC). If Rivera and the W.F.T. can beat the Eagles, they’ll secure a division title for the first time since 2015. An improvement after Washington finished the 2019 season with the second-worst record of 3-13.