Shorthanded Panthers Pound Lions to End 5-Game Losing Skid
CHARLOTTE, NC - Carolina came into this one without several key players including starters QB Teddy Bridgewater, RB Christian McCaffrey, OT Russell Okung, OG John Miller, and CB Donte Jackson. Despite being a bit shorthanded, the Panthers put together a strong showing on all three sides of the ball to come out on top with a 20-0 win.
The Panthers and Lions traded punts on their opening drives of the game, which was a little surprising considering how bad these two defenses have played through the first ten weeks of the season.
On Carolina's second drive of the day, QB P.J Walker settled in and went a perfect 4/4 and 84 yards, including a beautiful 52-yard pass down the sideline to D.J. Moore. Offensive coordinator Joe Brady called for a designed quarterback run for Walker, which nearly went for a touchdown but was stopped just shy inside the one yard line. On the following play, Walker handed it off to RB Mike Davis for the easy touchdown to give the Panthers an early 7-0 edge.
Detroit afforded the Panthers with terrific field position as center Frank Ragnow had a bad low snap on third down that was recovered by Carolina defensive end Marquise Haynes Sr. at the 22.
Carolina marched the ball inside the Detroit five yard line, but P.J. Walker made his first crucial mistake of the day throwing it into a tight window and was picked off by CB Amani Oruwariye in the end zone. This slammed the door shut on what would have been a two score game early in the 2nd quarter.
The Lions were unable to capitalize on the turnover and really struggled to get anything going offensively. Carolina held Detroit to just 89 total yards of offense in the first half (54 passing, 35 rushing). What was most impressive about the Panthers' first half defense was their ability to get off the field on 3rd down (1-6), which is something that has been very troublesome for them throughout the season ranking dead last in the league coming into the game.
Carolina went back to work offensively on their opening possession of the 2nd half moving the ball easily against Detroit to extend the lead up to 14-0. Walker dropped a dime in the back corner of the end zone to Curtis Samuel from 17 yards out for his first touchdown pass of his career.
The Lions thought they had cut the lead in half after a trick play that went for a 51-yard touchdown from Stafford to Marvin Jones, but was nullified due to an illegal formation penalty on Detroit. That proved costly as Carolina's defense came up with the stop and forced yet another punt - Detroit's sixth punt in the game just midway through the third quarter.
Carolina went right back to the quick passing game and got P.J. Walker back in a rhythm completing all six passes on the drive and getting the ball in field goal range for kicker Joey Slye who banged in a 56-yard kick to push the lead out to 17-0.
Down three scores late in the third quarter, the Lions showed a sense of urgency to try and cut into the lead. Stafford hit tight end T.J. Hockenson for a 35-yard gain, but the Panthers defense would prevail once again forcing a 51-yard field goal attempt from Matt Prater which missed hooking left.
The Panthers were looking to deliver the knockout punch as they had the Lions on the ropes following a 21-yard end-around run from DJ Moore, driving the ball deep in Detroit territory. Unfortunately, Carolina was unable to cash in due to another interception thrown in the end zone by Walker, this time picked off by Desmond Trufant. Walker was looking for DJ Moore coming across the field but there were four white jerseys in the area and was thrown no where near Moore, which made it look like there was some sort of miscommunication between the two.
That missed opportunity did not turn out to be very costly as the Panthers' defense put Matthew Stafford under duress registering back-to-back sacks forcing a 4th down and 20. Stafford chucked one up toward the first down marker but fell incomplete, turning it over on downs.
The Panthers were able to get one more stop with just under three minutes left and hold onto the shutout victory, 20-0. This becomes only the 2nd shutout of the NFL's 2020 season with the other coming back in week six with the Dolphins defeating the Jets 24-0.
Carolina moves to 4-7 on the season and will travel to Minnesota next Sunday to take on the Vikings.
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