The Panthers recovered from an embarrassing performance against the Steelers last week in a big way, as they faced a playoff hopeful Detroit Lions and their high powered offense and upward-trending defense. None of this mattered, as Carolina ran them over in the first half with a franchise record 240 rushing yards in the first half, and a franchise record 320 yards on the day. D’Onta Foreman and Chuba Hubbard became the first Panthers tandem since DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart to rush for 100 yards apiece, as Carolina took apart a surging Detroit Lions. Here is your recap;
The Panthers came out swinging on their opening drive, with two long runs by Chuba Hubbard to get them immediately into redzone range. Raheem Blacksheer capped the opening drive off with a touchdown off a speed option toss from Sam Darnold, The Lions responding drive initially looked like a stop for the Panthers defense, however a huge catch by DJ Chark and a subsequent touchdown throw to Shane Zylstra by Jared Goff had the game tied early. The Panthers came out on their second drive again with a rush heavy attack, however they could only manage 25 yards and needed to punt. The Lions kept a big drive going and ended the first quarter in scoring distance.
The Lions looked poised to take the lead here, however a Jared Goff fumble on the center exchange bailed the Panthers out around their own 10. Carolina capitalized on this mistake with an 8 play, 91 yard drive capped off with a Sam Darnold rushing touchdown. The Panthers forced a 3 and out on the ensuing drive, and topped their previous drive with an 11 play, 92 yard scoring drive that ended with a D’Onta Foreman rushing touchdown to put the Panthers up 21-7. At this point, the Panthers rushing offense was dominating. Another 3 and out later by the Lions, and the Panthers took over with less than a minute left. However, with another Chuba Hubbard 30 yard run and strikes to Shi Smith and Terrace Marshall by Sam Darnold, the Panthers notched a field goal to take a 24-7 lead going into half time. They ended the first half with 240 total rush yards, a franchise record for the first half.
The Lions opened the second half with a net negative drive after Brian Burns sacked Jared Goff with cleanup help from Marquis Haynes to force another 3 and out. Shi Smith almost gave away a key turnover on the punt return, but luckily CJ Henderson was there to recover the muffed punt. The Panthers followed up with another long 74 yard drive, as DJ Moore fueled the effort with 3 catches for 54 yards and a TD as Carolina changed up their plan a bit, gaining a 31-7 lead. The Lions responded with a long drive of their own, as Goff hit Kalif Raymond for 56 yards to put them into scoring range. Goff then hit Shane Zylstra for his second TD of the game, but the offense failed on a 2 pt conversion as Frankie Luvu blew the play up to leave it 31-13 Panthers. The 3rd quarter ended with the Panthers possessing the football on 3rd and 11 at the Detroit 40.
DJ Moore made a BEAUTIFUL catch on 3rd and long to convert with literal inches between the toe tap and the sideline to set up a 1st down. The rushing offense couldn’t get a lot done as the Lions clamped down again, forcing another field goal to give the Panthers a 34-13 lead. The Lions put together a decent drive to respond but turned the ball over on downs. The Panthers mustered a 56 yard drive but ended up punting as the clock winded down. The Lions managed an 87 yard touchdown drive capped by a THIRD touchdown to Shane Zylstra (I am so sorry we hurt you, Brandon) to put the Lions within two scores, down 34-20. However, the Panthers managed a field goal to put the game out of reach. The Lions kicked one of their own but without much time left, they attempted an onside kick that failed.
The Panthers are now 6-9 and control their own destiny with NFC South matchups with the Saints and Buccaneers to end the season. Do you think they can make the playoffs?