Malcolm Brown scored on a pair of short touchdown runs, and the defending NFC champion Los Angeles Rams overcame some missed scoring chances to defeat the Carolina Panthers 30-27 in the season opener Sunday afternoon in Charlotte, N.C.
Rams quarterback Jared Goff was 23 for 39 for 186 yards with a touchdown and an interception.
Panthers quarterback Cam Newton completed 25 of 38 passes for 239 yards and an interception.
Alex Armah’s 1-yard plunge allowed the Panthers to pull within 30-27 at the 1:58 mark. But with only one timeout remaining, Carolina didn’t get another possession after the Rams recovered an onside kick.
Running back Christian McCaffrey scored Carolina’s first touchdown of the season on an 8-yard run in the third quarter on a direct snap, cutting the Rams’ lead to 16-10.
The Rams countered with a 13-play drive, with Brown scoring from 1 yard out.
Panthers rookie kicker Joey Slye booted a 52-yard field goal to make it 23-13 with 11 seconds left in the third quarter.
Momentum shifted when Carolina’s Jermaine Carter Jr. blocked a punt to give the Panthers the ball at the Los Angeles 5. McCaffrey ran in from 2 yards out two players later, and the Panthers were within 23-20 with 13:10 left.
Yet the Rams were in good shape at the 6:37 mark when Goff threw a 5-yard touchdown dart to tight end Tyler Higbee.
Slye’s first attempt was wide right from 53 yards out late in the first quarter.
Greg Zuerlein’s 49-yard field goal opened the scoring for the Rams. He added one from 56 yards late in the first half.
Two plays after taking over at the Carolina 10 following a turnover when Newton’s throw was deemed a backward pass, the Rams scored on Brown’s 5-yard run at 12:44 of the second.
Carolina finally scored on the last play of the first half on Slye’s 46-yarder, cutting the deficit to 13-3. It came after the Rams gambled on defense by calling a pair of timeouts, but the Panthers converted a third down and then went on to gain two more first downs and end up in field-goal position.
Los Angeles Rams safety Eric Weddle left with 5:23 remaining in the second quarter with a head laceration, with blood dripping off his head and down both sides of his jersey. Weddle, in his first season with Los Angeles, took a knee to a head as leaping McCaffrey tried to make a play. He was evaluated for a concussion and did not return.
—Field Level Media