The Detroit Lions went into Saturday’s game with a strong sense of how they have played so far. If they can win all three of their last games, they are almost guaranteed a place in the playoffs.
But from the beginning of the game against the Carolina Panthers, they were physically dominated. Carolina controlled the line of scrimmage. The Lions offense couldn’t keep up due to expensive early turnovers from Jared Goff and a struggling running game.
The Panthers led 24-7 at halftime, and the Lions couldn’t even improve their final score in the second half when both teams seemed to coast.
This loss won’t drop the Lions out of playoff contention, but it will make their road much more difficult. And if they play like this again, they have no chance of finishing among the top seven NFC teams. Let’s hope this is a wake-up call for the Lions and not the final crushing blow to their season.
Here’s what Saturday’s game looks like.
The Lions won the coin toss and held off, giving the Panthers the ball first. Carolina got off to a promising start with a 30-yard run from Chuva Hubbard at far left. He followed it up with a 35-yard run on the next play, and the Panthers were already in the red zone. The Panthers scored after just five rushing plays. 7-0 Panthers.
The ensuing kickoff went out of bounds and the Lions offense got off to a good start at the 40-yard line. After two incomplete passes, Jared Goff went deep into DJ Chark and caught a contested catch for a huge 39-yard gain.
From there, the Lions picked up another clutch, giving a 13-yard gain to Amon Lacent Brown, who set the Lions on the first goal. The Lions quickly cashed in on Shane his play-action touchdown pass to Zilstra. A 7-7 draw.
The Panthers’ rushing game continued to soar against the Lions’ defense. D’Onta Foreman hit him 21 yards on the first rush of the next drive. A false start and tackle from Alim McNeill put the Panthers third and sixth in midfield, but Ian Thomas dropped a potential first down (called back for penalty). must). Carolina punted to Detroit’s 9-yard line.
Detroit got out of their own end zone with a 22-yard second-down pass to rookie James Mitchell. Goff then completed a pass to his end in his third different tight, blocking his Wright with his 11-yard gain to lead Detroit into midfield. St. Brown held a tough catch another 19 yards to his 34-yard line for the Panthers.
That catch made Amonra St. Brown over 1,000 yards, making him the youngest Lions player ever.
The Lions found themselves in another tricky situation. From his 22-yard line on the Panthers he was 4th and his 1st, Detroit picked it up and Jamal Williams advanced his 2 yards into the red zone. The Lions were driving near the end of the first quarter.
Caliph Raymond put the Lions in a goal-to-go situation and played nifty, but it was all in vain. Goff fumbled the next snap exchange, and Panthers defender Yeter Gros Matos recovered at his own 9-yard line.
The Lions defense continued to struggle. A play-action pass to Tommy Tremble immediately scored him 18 yards for Carolina. Foreman then broke the tackle several times and this time he ran for an explosive 38 yards. They pushed down inside the 5-yard line with an option run from Darnold.He had a 3-yard touchdown run and a 14-7 Panthers lead.
Detroit was quickly three-and-out as Goff’s consecutive passes were hit at the line.
A holding penalty on a punt sent the Panthers back inside their own 10-yard line, but it didn’t really matter. Darnold attacked Terrace Marshall, Jr. with a 36-yard strike and Jerry Jacobs moved into midfield with tight cover. Foreman followed that up with a 21-yard run, just as the Panthers were back in scoring position again. A few plays later, Foreman hit it for a 4-yard touchdown. 21-7 Panthers.
It took Detroit two minutes to get back to a one-point game. Instead, they went three-and-out again, giving the Panthers 59 seconds left to add to their lead. Another explosive play on the ground — a 33-yard gain from Hubbard — quickly led Carolina into midfield. Each team’s penalties kept the Panthers out of the end zone, but they tackled a field goal and got them close enough to go into halftime. 24-7 Panthers lead.
The Lions offense failed to kick-start the second half as Goff was sacked on third down by Brian Barnes on Detroit’s third straight three-and-out.
The Panthers drove into midfield to take 3rd and 13th. The Lions sent pressure that didn’t get there, and Darnold found DJ Moore with a 47-yard bomb.
He quickly returned to Moore for a 5-yard bubble screen for another touchdown. 31-7 Panthers
The Lions closed the gap late in the third quarter after the teams traded punts. A 56-yard bomb to Caliph Raymond put Detroit right out and Goff found Zilstra again for a 7-yard touchdown pass on fourth down. Detroit he chose two but failed. 31-13 Panthers.
An Isaiah Baggs personal foul penalty allowed the Panthers to get into field goal range, and Carolina scored another three with just over 13 minutes remaining. 34-13 Panthers.
Detroit had a chance to lead by two, but the curtain fell after failing to convert four and five deep in Panthers territory.
Zilstra added a garbage-time touchdown with four minutes remaining for the third time of the day. 34-20 Panthers.
However, a failed onside kick put the final nail in the coffin and the teams traded field goals to get the final score. 37-23 Panthers.
The loss dropped the Lions to a 7-8 season and abruptly halted playoff talks. A postseason isn’t out of the question for the Lions, but there’s no more room for error.