The Detroit Lions were surprisingly able to end their three-game losing skid against a tough Carolina Panthers team on Sunday afternoon.
The Detroit Lions have reached a pivotal point in Matt Patricia’s first season as head coach. Defeated and seemingly demoralized, the Lions limped their way along into this week still trying to convince fans that, regardless of the on-field product, tanking isn’t a part of the team’s way ahead.
Not yet mathematically eliminated from playoff contention, the Lions would need to grit and grind in order to try and gain a win over a strong opponent, the 6-3 Carolina Panthers, on their home turf.
Detroit ceded the ball to Carolina’s offense to open this game and the Lion defense took the field to try and fend off Carolina’s electric quarterback Cam Newton. For the first play of the game, running back Christian McCaffrey gained four yards on the ground. Detroit stopped Carolina for a loss of one on second down but Cam took to the air to move the chains 14-yards on third down.
Newton easily navigated his team into a goal line position, completing his first four passes, but as he tested Darius Slay, he missed his first pass of the game, an attempt to Michigan-native Devin Funchess. Nevertheless, Newton soon found his big tight end Greg Olsen for a 1-yard touchdown toss, 7-0 Carolina.
Detroit’s quarterback Matthew Stafford completed his first pass, a 9-yard toss, to receiver Kenny Golladay as the Lions opened up their possession. Detroit’s rookie running back sensation, Kerryon Johnson, then gained the Lion first down on the ground as Detroit looked to get their offense rolling. Kerryon grabbed another 8-yards as he ran behind his fullback in a nice display of patient running.
The Lions’ first-year runner continued to make big plays on the field as he continuously moved the chains for his team. On 3rd & 7, it was Golladay’s turn after he came down with an amazing 13-yard catch in traffic as the Lions kept their drive going.
Kerryon carried on until Carolina’s 8-yard line with a 12-yard run and on the next play, Johnson capped off his impressive six carry, 42-yard opening drive with a score as the Lions answered the Panther touchdown with one of their own, 7-7 all.
Carolina took back over offensively and immediately went to trying to build their ground attack with McCaffrey but Detroit’s defense held strong. On 3rd & 5, as Newton dropped back to make something happen for his team, Lion linebacker Devon Kennard dropped the Panther signal caller for a loss of five yards. After the Carolina punt, the Lions next took the field with good field position.
Stafford had to throw the ball away on first down as he avoided longtime nemesis defensive end Julius Peppers who was surging his way towards the QB. On second down Stafford hooked up with wide receiver Bruce Ellington for the last play of the opening quarter.