Sam Darnold is your new leader in NFL rushing TDs

·2-min read

Not even the Carolina Panthers saw this coming. 

Since joining the team this offseason as a reclamation project, quarterback Sam Darnold washed off the stench of the New York Jets with a 3-0 start and the best passer rating of his career (99.0) through three games.

He's also developed into an elite runner?

The former No. 3 overall pick got the Panthers on the board Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys with a 2-yard scamper on an option play.

Carolina's next score? Another Darnold run on a designed keeper from the Cowboys' 11-yard line.

In between, he pulled off this 14-yard, drive-saving scramble that set up his second touchdown of the day. 

It's an element of his game — like many — that wasn't harnessed during his tenure with the Jets. It's also put him in an unexpected spot in the NFL stat book. Darnold had three rushing 2021 touchdowns entering Sunday's. With his fourth and fifth, he took the lead in NFL rushing touchdowns. 

ARLINGTON, TEXAS - OCTOBER 03: Sam Darnold #14 of the Carolina Panthers scrambles and runs passed Quinton Bohanna #98 of the Dallas Cowboys for a touchdown during the second quarter at AT&T Stadium on October 03, 2021 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
Sam Darnold isn't just making plays with his arm in Carolina. (Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

Yes, as of halftime Sunday, Darnold had more rushing touchdowns than Derrick Henry, Nick Chubb and Ezekiel Elliott — or anybody else in the NFL. His rushing scores also put him in the NFL record book. His five rushing touchdowns are the most by any NFL quarterback through four games in the history of the league. No, not even Michael Vick, Lamar Jackson or Cam Newton achieved the feat.

The five-touchdown tally matches his total on the ground across three seasons with the Jets. 

Yes, it's safe to say that Darnold is a new player since joining the Panthers. And he's not just getting the job done with his arm. 

His rushing prowess wasn't enough on Sunday, though, as Dallas prevailed, 36-28 to hand Carolina its first loss of the season.

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