Teddy Bridgewater threw for two touchdowns and ran for another as the Carolina Panthers were in control most of the way in a 31-21 victory against the visiting Arizona Cardinals on Sunday afternoon in Charlotte, N.C.
Bridgewater completed 26 of 37 passes for 276 yards.
Running backs Mike Davis, who rushed for a game-high 84 yards, and Reggie Bonnafon each posted a touchdown. The Panthers (2-2) won for the second week in a row despite the absence of injured All-Pro running back Christian McCaffrey.
Arizona quarterback Kyler Murray completed 24 of 31 passes for 133 yards and three touchdowns. His 78 rushing yards also were tops for the Cardinals (2-2), who lost for the second week in a row.
The Panthers, who prevailed a week earlier despite red-zone woes that resulted in five field goals, excelled in this game when moving deep into Arizona territory.
This was the first weekend for fans to attend sporting events in the state of North Carolina, with 7 percent of capacity permitted (with announced attendance of 5,120, though 5,240 were permitted for Sunday’s game). The outcome gave first-year coach Matt Rhule his first home victory.
The Panthers went up 14-0 in the first quarter on Davis’ 1-yard run and Bridgewater’s 18-yard run.
The Cardinals scored midway through the second quarter on Murray’s 3-yard pass to Jordan Thomas, who made his first catch as a member of the team. The opportunity was set up by Patrick Peterson’s interception, marking the first pick for Arizona’s defense this season.
Bonnafon scored on a 3-yard pass from Bridgewater to push Carolina’s lead to 21-7 by halftime.
Bridgewater connected on a 2-yard pass to tight end Ian Thomas to open the second-half scoring.
Murray brought the Cardinals back quickly, hitting Christian Kirk on a 3-yard touchdown pass. Murray’s 48-yard run was among the drive’s highlights.
The Panthers extended the lead to 31-14 on Joey Slye’s 27-yard field goal with 7:45 left.
With a little more than two minutes left, Murray hit Chase Edmonds on a 2-yard touchdown pass.