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 3-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.
— NFL (@NFL) September 10, 2023
After the game, Hurst said fans threw it back (maybe they root for the Georgia Bulldogs) and the ball's in "safe hands."
Yes, I blacked out and threw Bryce’s first touchdown in the seats...
But they threw it back and the ball is in safe hands… everyone can relax and dial it back about 30% 😂
— Hayden Hurst (@haydenrhurst) September 10, 2023
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 on his official NFL bio.
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 (first) Cam Newton era to attempt to return the Panthers to winning ways.