Bryce Young throws first NFL touchdown pass, Hayden Hurst throws it into the stands

Bryce Young now has his first NFL touchdown. (John Adams/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Bryce Young now has his first NFL touchdown. (John Adams/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

ATLANTA — Bryce Young shook off some early jitters to throw his first NFL touchdown midway through the second quarter of Sunday’s game against Atlanta. Young orchestrated a 12-play, 75-yard drive that consumed 7:18 of clock time and ended with a three-yard pass to Hayden Hurst. It was a brilliant piece of NFL playmaking that ended on a cringey note as Hurst slung the ball into the stands.

Young ought to be able to get the ball back, one way or another, even if a Georgia fan ended up with it. But Hurst will owe him a favor … a rare feat for a rookie to enjoy.

Young’s initial drive was a competent, cautious one, heavy on the run.. His first NFL pass was a 12-yard completion to Terrace Marshall in triple coverage. Although Young completed three passes for 28 yards on the drive, the Panthers stalled deep in Atlanta territory and failed on a fourth-down conversion.

His second drive didn’t go so well. Backed up into his own end zone by delay of game and offensive pass interference penalties, Young threw the first interception of his NFL career as Jessie Bates III jumped into the path of a pass intended for Hurst.

Young played three seasons at Alabama, two as a starter. He won the Heisman Trophy in 2021, leading Alabama all the way to the national championship game. Young finished his Alabama career with 80 touchdowns against 12 interceptions.

Drafted No. 1 overall after Carolina traded up to take Chicago’s pick, Young came into the NFL with all the intangibles already in place but a few of the tangibles in question. Listed at 6 feet and 194 pounds while at Alabama, he somehow lost two inches of height but gained 10 pounds.

Young will be trying to help rehabilitate the image and fortunes of a Carolina team that hasn’t had a winning record since the 2017 season. He’s the fifth quarterback in the five years after the Cam Newton era to attempt to return the Panthers to winning ways.

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