On a wet night in Charlotte, the Carolina Panthers saddled D’Onta Foreman 31 times and watched the blue back carry them to a 25-15 win over the Atlanta Falcons.
“I never stopped; a little bit tired, a little bit out of breath at times, but when the game is at stake there’s no getting out,” Foreman said via the team’s official website. “You just gotta keep grinding and keep pounding. I wanted to do that.”
Foreman rushed for a career-high 31 times for 130 yards and a touchdown, grinding yards and slicing through the Falcons’ defenses to make big gains.
In all, Carolina threw the ball 47 times, the third most in a game this season, for 232 yards (the most by the Panthers since Week 5 of 2019).
“I said from day one that we wanted to try to control the line of scrimmage,” said interim coach Steve Wilks. “For me I know the league has changed a bit where everyone thinks about passing, but as a defender I understand there’s nothing more demoralizing than running 200 yards or something at you.”
Since the Christian McCaffrey trade, the Panthers have relied on the ground game. In weeks 1-6, they attempted 20.7 carries per game for 90.3 yards per contest and three rushing TDs. In weeks 7-9, Carolina rushed 32 times per tilt for 159.5 yards and 5.0 yards per carry.
Thursday night marked the second time in three games that Foreman blasted the Falcons. In two matchups against Atlanta, the running back has 248 combined yards on 57 tries with four touchdowns. Foreman became the first Panthers player to have more than four TDs against a single opponent in a season since Mike Tolbert against New Orleans in 2012.
After his 12-yard touchdown streak Thursday, the 236-pound running back leapt into the crowd to celebrate with sodden hometown fans.
“They helped me up there,” Foreman said of the Carolina fans at Bank of America Stadium. “It was kind of a high jump. I didn’t expect it to be that high. It was still cool. It was something I’ve always wanted to do.”
The 26-year-old former third-round pick was almost reconciled to the fact that his NFL career was over last year before he received a call from Tennessee needing help after Derrick Henry went down with an injury. Since then, Foreman has been running like a raging bull. Foreman, who was signed as McCaffrey’s backup this season, has become much more than that since the trade. He now has three 100-yard rushing plays in his last four games.
“It’s a blessing from God. I’m very grateful for this opportunity,” Foreman said. “I have to stay focused and do what I can do one day at a time, game at a time to help this team.”
Foreman has helped the Panthers to two wins in their last four games, and even at 3-7, Thursday’s win kept them in the game in a struggling NFC South.