Detroit Lions Week 16 report card: Lions fall flat on their face in Carolina

CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA - DECEMBER 24: \carat Bank of America Stadium on December 24, 2022 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)\p
CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA - DECEMBER 24: \carat Bank of America Stadium on December 24, 2022 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)\p /
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The Detroit Lions laid an egg on Christmas Eve, with a truly pitiful performance against the Carolina Panthers. Here’s our report card for the game. 

In a league of parity, expecting the Detroit Lions to win nine of 10 down the stretch was a pipe dream. However, it isn’t so much they lost on Saturday, but how they lost to the Carolina Panthers. In every facet of play, the Lions were completely dominated by a mediocre opponent.

The defense couldn’t stop anything and the offense wasn’t productive when the game was close enough for it to matter. The Lions regressed severely in every way, looking much more like their early season form that brought a 1-6 start.

For all the progress made over the past seven weeks, this loss showed how much more this team needs to grow. So as the Lions fall flat on their face heading into Christmas, let’s take a look back at what went wrong in Carolina.

Detroit Lions Week 16 report card: Humbled in Carolina

Rush offense: 1/5 stars 

Once again the Lions’ ground game struggled to gain any traction on Saturday. Early futility mixed with a very unfavorable game script led to Detroit running for just 44 yards. There isn’t much to dissect because the ground game was a complete non-factor.

To add insult to injury, or rather the other way around, Jamaal Williams went down with a leg injury in this game. He’s been an absolute workhorse for this team, and his absence would be a big one.

Pass offense: 2/5 stars

There was a weird issue with Jared Goff having several passes batted at the line in this game. It happened four times, three in the first half. Brian Burns predictably caused trouble for this offensive line as he picked up two sacks.

Aside from that though the passing game was fine. It wasn’t good when it was needed at the start of the game, but it wasn’t unwatchable. Goff was still finding his receivers in space, and the offense as a whole put up an adequate amount of points and passing yards. But a lot of the production came in garbage time, so it isn’t worth much.

Best offensive player: TE Shane Zylstra

In one of the weirdest developments of this game, Shane Zylstra caught three touchdowns. All three were down near the goal line, and Zylstra was able to give Goff an open target.

For a player who is far from a featured piece on the Lions’ offense, that has to feel good for him. It’s also nice to at least have one positive thing to talk about in this game.

Worst offensive player(s): TEs James Mitchell and Brock Wright

Part of the problem in the run game has been the poor blocking from the tight ends. Mitchell has been poor in that regard all season, but Wright is usually more steady.

Unfortunately, both had subpar games in that regard, which further contributed to the Panthers’ defense swarming the run game.