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Sam Darnold was run out of New York this offseason, and he hasn’t stopped running since. Darnold, now taking snaps for the Panthers in the NFC South, has been an unlikely source of rushing success for Carolina (3-1). By rushing for two more scores in yesterday’s loss to Dallas, Darnold now stands alone atop the league’s leaderboard for rushing touchdowns with five.
Rushing touchdowns through Week 4:
Sam Darnold – 5
Derrick Henry – 4
— Gridiron (@Gridiron) October 4, 2021
In his first three pro seasons, all with the Jets, Darnold had five total rushing touchdowns. It’s taken him just four games in Carolina to tie that mark. Still just 24 years old, Darnold has found the end zone by way of the ground one more time than notable names like Derrick Henry, Ezekiel Elliot and James Conner, something few would’ve predicted.
On Sunday, the Cowboys’ defense seemed to force Darnold to rely on his legs rather than his arm.
“I was pleased with our run game at times. We had some nice runs…” said Panthers coach Matt Rhule post game. “Any time Sam has time, he’s going to make a lot of really good decisions.”
Those decisions led to a 5.6 yard per carry average and two scores for the signal caller. By finding paydirt twice, Darnold became the first quarterback in NFL history to rush for at least five touchdowns in his team’s first four games.
Darnold has a good chance to add to his league-leading total next weekend. The Panthers play host to Philadelphia Sunday, a team that so far in 2021 has allowed opponents to rush for more than 150 yards per game, third-worst in the league.