Rapid Reaction: Texans fall 24-9 to Panthers in rookie Davis Mills' first start

The Texans will host the New England Patriots on October 10th. Kickoff is set for 12:00 p.m. CT.Click here for tickets.

The Houston Texans fell, 24-9, to the Carolina Panthers at NRG Stadium on Thursday Night Football.

Rookie QB Davis Mills made his first NFL start and completed 19-of-28 passes for 168 yards, one touchdown, and a 95.5. passer rating in the Week 3 primetime matchup. In a two-minute offense, Mills led a scoring drive right before the end of the first half to cut the Panthers' lead to just one.

"I thought he did very well," Head Coach David Culley said. "He did not turn the ball over at all, which was a big thing going into the game. I thought he threw the ball very well. I thought when our two-minute offense right before half he did an excellent job of taking us down the field making some nice throws and I thought he did a nice job for us."

The Texans did not turn over the ball but converted just 1-of-9 third down tries and only rushed for 42 yards on 17 attempts.

"We didn't run the ball very well and we have to be able to do that," Head Coach David Culley said. "I think the team we played had a little bit to do with that also. That's a very good defensive football team. They kind of knew that with a new quarterback in that things were going to be a little bit different than what they had seen previously in the first two ball games of, game and a half anyway."

Brandin Cooks caught nine passes for 112 receiving yards. In his Texans debut, Anthony Miller caught a touchdown pass.

The Texans defense, without DB Justin Reid, DB Terrance Mitchell, DL Jordan Jenkins and LB Kamu Grugier-Hill, recorded three sacks and five quarterback hits. DL Jon Greenard, DL Whitney Mercilus and DL Ross Blacklock each had a sack in the loss.

Sam Darnold was 23-of-34 for 304 yards and rushed for two touchdowns. Christian McCaffrey had seven carries for 31 yards, plus two catches for nine yards before he left the game with a hamstring injury in the second quarter. D.J. Moore had eight catches for a team-high 126 yards.

The Panthers took an early 7-0 lead after Darnold scrambled five yards for a touchdown on their second possession. However, the Texans defense kept Carolina scoreless until later in the third quarter.

Houston punted on its first four possessions, but with 1:37 left in the first half, Mills led a seven-play, 64-yard scoring drive and completed 5-of-5 passes to three different receivers.

"I think we felt like we were, got in a really good rhythm once we were out there pushing the tempo and kind of spreading the ball around because, honestly, at the end of the drive, I felt like the defense was a little tired and we were able to attack them and find plays," Mills said.

After back-to-back completions to Cooks, including a deep pass for 30 yards, Mills converted two more first downs quickly on the drive. He threw a 10-yard pass to Jordan Akins and then spiked the ball to stop the clock. An 11-yard throw to Cooks had the Texans at first-and-goal at the one-yard line. Mills threw a short pass over the middle to Miller for a one-yard touchdown. The Texans trailed 7-6 after the missed extra point attempt.

With 25 seconds remaining, the Panthers offense had one more possession, but it ended with Blacklock's sack on Darnold.

The Texans trailed 7-6 at halftime.

The Panthers scored again on their first possession in the third quarter. After a 25-yard gain by Alex Erickson, who spent training camp with the Texans, TE Tommy Tremble ran in a seven-yard score to give Carolina a 14-6 lead with 6:25 left in the third quarter.

Both teams added field goals to start the fourth quarter. The Panthers added a 21-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter to extend their lead to two scores. Slye responded with a 53-yard field goal. Cooks caught four catches for 43 yards on the scoring drive.

On third-and-inches inside the one-yard line, Darnold scored on keeper, and the Panthers pulled away with a 24-9 lead with 4:07 left in the game. The Texans had one final possession but turned the ball over on downs. Carolina ended the game in victory formation.

The Texans fall to 1-2 on the season and will next play at Buffalo on October 3.

The Texans will host the New England Patriots on October 10th. Kickoff is set for 12:00 p.m. CT. Click here for tickets.

Tap to see the top photos from the Texans-Panthers Thursday night matchup.

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