Panthers Run Their Way to 31-22 Victory Over Lions

Normally I would come up with a clever way to introduce my recap of how the Lions lost their latest game, but there really is just not much to say at this point. Sunday's matchup between the Lions and Panthers was just like many other games this season. Detroit gets ahead early, collapses and falls behind, and ultimately loses after a failed comeback attempt. That is exactly what happened today, and the Lions dropped to 0-10 with the 31-22 loss.

1st Quarter

  • Believe it or not, but for the first time this season the Lions scored on their opening drive. Kevin Smith and Daunte Culpepper were mainly responsible for moving the Lions down the field, and Calvin Johnson was the one partially responsible for scoring.

    Culpepper avoided pressure and found an open Johnson in the end zone from 29 yards out. Calvin fell to the ground to make the catch and did a good job of keeping it off the ground. The throw definitely could have been better, but it didn't really matter since the Lions scored a touchdown to take a 7-0 lead. The Panthers did challenge the TD, but the call was upheld.
  • Carolina went three and out, which is what they did quite a bit early on in this game.
  • On the first and only play of the Lions' next drive Culpepper was intercepted. The interception was all on Culpepper, who shouldn't have made the throw.
  • Thankfully the Lions defense shockingly stepped it up and forced Carolina to go three and out again.
  • The Lions faced 3rd and 19 on their own 45-yard line and Kevin Smith ran for 18 yards on a draw. The big run got the Lions within a yard of a first down, and they would go for it to start the second quarter.

2nd Quarter

  • Kevin Smith got the ball again and ran for 20 yards to move the chains. He only needed 1 yard, so 20 was more than enough. Rudi Johnson came into the game to replace Smith on the next two plays and lost a total of 5 yards. An incomplete pass on 3rd down would officially stall the drive, but Jason Hanson did kick a field goal from 40 yards out to give the Lions a 10-0 lead.
  • The Lions' defense suddenly forgot how to stop Carolina starting with this drive. After a 7-yard pass on 3rd and short moved the chains for the first time of the game for Carolina, the Panthers started to pound the ball down Detroit's throat. Jonathan Stewart ran for 21, Steve Smith went for 16 on a reverse type of play, and DeAngelo Williams picked up 8. The Panthers then went back to the air, and Jake Delhomme found Jeff King for a 15-yard touchdown to make it a 3-point game.
  • The Lions nearly had disaster happen on the ensuing kickoff, as Aveion Cason muffed it. The Panthers nearly recovered, but Ikaika Alama-Francis thankfully fell on it. It's a good thing he did recover the fumble, as the Lions were moving the ball effectively before the drive stalled at Carolina's 38-yard line. With it being 4th down, I expected a punt, but Jason Hanson came in to attempt a 56-yard field goal. It probably shouldn't come as a huge surprise that Hanson nailed the kick. After all, he is Mr. Reliable. The long field goal gave Detroit a 13-7 lead.
  • Carolina continued to run the ball on its next drive and continued to have little trouble doing so. Stewart ran for gains of 7 and 13 yards and even caught a pass for 4 yards. Then, on the fourth play of the drive, DeAngelo Williams ran by every Lions defender and went 56 yards for a touchdown. Just like that, the Panthers led 14-13.
  • Just like once before, the Lions turned the ball over one play into their next drive. Michael Gaines caught a pass for a gain of 9 yards, and the ball came out as he hit the ground, at least that is what the call was initially. Carolina challenged, though, and the call was reversed. The ruling was that the ball came out before Gaines hit the ground, even though it didn't look like there was indisputable evidence. Either way, it was Carolina ball at the Lions' 38-yard line.
  • Five plays into the drive, Jonathan Stewart ran to the left side and sprinted by everybody for a 22-yard TD. The Panthers now led 21-13.
  • A kickoff return to the Lions 46 with just under a minute left in the half gave Detroit a chance to put some more points on the board before the second quarter came to an end. That's exactly what they did, as Jason Hanson kicked a 27-yard field goal to bring the Lions within 5 after the first half.

3rd Quarter

  • The Panthers took over six and a half minutes off the clock to open the second half but only got a field goal out of the 10-play drive. John Kasay hit the field goal from 29 yards out to give Carolina a 24-16 lead.
  • After a Lions three and out, Carolina made a crucial mistake. Steve Smith made a catch on a quick pass and had the ball knocked out of his hands by Leigh Bodden. Paris Lenon fell on the ball, giving the Lions possession at Carolina's 49.
  • Unfortunately, the Lions were unable to capitalize on the turnover and went three and out. However, Carolina gave the Lions another chance after they roughed Nick Harris on the punt. It was a pretty weak call in my opinion and probably shouldn't have been a personal foul. Regardless, it was and the Lions suddenly had the ball at Carolina's 42. Just as before, though, they failed to pick up a first down and had to punt the ball away again. This time there were no penalties.
  • The Panthers moved the ball but didn't get past midfield and had to punt.

4th Quarter

  • Still trailing by 8, the Lions needed to find the end zone again. It took them 15 plays and more than eight minutes, but the Lions did score another touchdown. A combination of Daunte Culpepper passes and Kevin Smith rushes moved the Lions down the field and kept the drive alive multiple times. The Lions were faced with 4th and 2 at the Carolina 41, and Culpepper found John Standeford for a gain of 16. Later on the drive, it was 3rd and 4 for the Lions, and Smith ran for 5 yards to get the ball down to the 2.

    After Smith ran for a yard on the next play, Culpepper kept it on 2nd and goal and scored on a QB sneak. The Lions decided to go for the 2-point conversion since a successful attempt would tie the game. Culpepper took the snap in the shotgun, faked a handoff, and ran a draw. He was tackled inches short of the goal line thanks in part to his face mask being grabbed. Even though it was pretty obvious that there should have been a penalty, no flag was thrown, meaning the Lions trailed 24-22.
  • Following a Panthers three and out, this entire game unraveled for the Lions. For the third time of the game, the Lions turned the ball over on the first play of a drive. Daunte Culpepper threw a terrible pass into coverage that was easily picked off and returned down to the Lions' 4-yard line.
  • It took only one play for DeAngelo Williams to score a touchdown that put this game out of reach for the Lions.
  • Detroit did get the ball back with 2:41 left in the game, but Culpepper was hit by Julius Peppers on 4th and 9 and there was a fumble. The Panthers recovered, not that it mattered anyways.
  • Jake Delhomme kneeled down two times to end the game. The Lions lost 31-22, meaning they are now 0-10.

Although the offense played well at times and Kevin Smith looked good, the three turnovers kept the Lions from winning this game. The defense also played well at times. However, the Lions' run defense was absolutely pathetic. The Panthers rushed for a team-record 264 yards in this game thanks mainly to poor tackling. There were a few plays where DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart ran for big gains without having to avoid any defenders, but most of the time they broke tackles to rack up the yardage.

The Lions' next chance to get their first win of the season comes next Sunday against the Buccaneers. The game will undoubtedly be blacked out, meaning that local fans will have to resort to online streams, game trackers, the radio, and as usual, live updates here on Pride of Detroit. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m., and if you are lucky enough to live outside of the blackout zone, it will be broadcast on FOX.

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