Sam Darnold benched by Carolina Panthers in MetLife return as P.J. Walker takes over

James Bradberry intercepts Sam Darnold's pass and gives the ball back to them. (0:17).
Carolina Panthers quarterback Sam Darnold was ejected in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s 25-3 loss at MetLife Stadium to the New York Giants.

Coach Matt Rhule stated that the quarterback switch was necessary because he felt there was a need for some spark. Next week, Sam will be our quarterback. "He will be our quarterback going forward.

This decision was made four days after Rhule stated he had "bought-in" on Darnold when asked about Carolina's possibility of trading for Deshaun Watson.

Rhule stated Thursday that Sam will be a great quarterback for Carolina Panthers and that he has not been influenced by anyone else during a conference call with Giants beat reporters. He's my focus and I expect him play the best football going forward.

"I don't want to look anywhere else."

Rhule became the backup P.J. With 12:41 left Sunday, Walker was still in the game and Carolina trailed 15-3. Darnold was penalized for an intentional grounding in the end zone of the first half, which resulted in a safety. A poorly thrown ball resulted in Darnold's interception at the New York goal line.

After throwing three interceptions in Carolina's 3-0 start, it was his seventh in all four games. The Panthers fell to 3-4 with Sunday's loss.

According to ESPN Stats & Information research, Darnold was 9 of 18 for 52 yards and an interception against standard pressure. Darnold was second among qualified quarterbacks in his completion rate of 61% for those plays when he entered the game.

After spending the first three years of his NFL career in New York with the Jets, Darnold was traded to the Panthers. Sunday's game marked Darnold's debut game at MetLife Stadium.

Walker was 3-of-14 for 33 yard and had one run of 13 yards during the game.

According to league sources, Watson was a target for the Panthers before his legal problems. There are 22 lawsuits against Watson, alleging sexual assault and inappropriate behavior during massage sessions.

According to league sources, Watson is not being pursued by the Panthers at the moment. However, the Texans are asking for at least three first round picks for the ex-Clemson star.