JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (FNN SPORTS) – In a game where the weather could have been the story, the Carolina Panthers’ starting offense was the real story. The Panthers went down the field on their opening series, with the return of Cam Newton to the lineup, and made an offensive statement, helping spark the Panthers to a 24-23 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The third preseason NFL game is normally the game where most of the starters on both teams play into the second half as a sort of dress rehearsal for the regular season opener. But for both the Carolina Panthers and Jacksonville Jaguars, they used Thursday night’s preseason game as a typical preseason game.
Carolina’s starting quarterback Cam Newton played only one series against the Jaguars. He went 2 for 2 with a 9-yard touchdown pass to Kelvin Benjerman. The touchdown was set up by a 31-yard Jonathan Stewart run on the second play of the game. Stewart finished with 39 yards on 5 carries in his two series of play.
The Jacksonville Jaguars decided to start Chad Henne over Blake Bortles Thursday night. Henne did not do much to take a commanding lead in their battle for the starting quarterback job. Even though the Jaguars scored on two series in Henne’s only half in the game, both scoring drives were led by big plays that were made not by the offense.
Running back Corey Grant gained 51 yards on a fake punt on 4th down on the team’s second drive of the game to set up Chris Ivory’s one-yard touchdown run. Then Stanley Jean-Baptiste intercepted Carolina backup quarterback Derek Anderson to set up Jason Myers’s 44-yard field goal to tie the score at 10 at the half.
Anderson, who took over from Newton midway through the first quarter, couldn’t lead the Panthers to the end zone in any of his nine series as the quarterback. He could only lead them to a field goal.
Bortles came into the game in the 3rd quarter and his night was up and down. He led the team to two touchdown drives, including a touchdown pass to Shane Wynn to give the Jaguars a one-point lead at 17-16 in the fourth quarter. He finished 12-16 for 125 yards with a touchdown and an interception in his work in the second half.
On his final series of the night, Bortles went a perfect 5 for 5 as he set up Jonathan Grimes’s one-yard touchdown to put the Jaguars down by a point, but Bortles was intercepted on the 2-point conversion leading the final outcome.
Jacksonville will finish their preseason schedule with a game against the Atlanta Falcons next Thursday night in Atlanta. The Panthers will play their final preseason game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at home next Thursday night.
Danny Thompson is a sports contributor for Florida National News. | firstname.lastname@example.org