The Detroit Lions pulled off an impressive upset at home to move to 4-6. Thanks to a huge defensive play at the end of the game, they sent the Carolina Panthers home with a big loss. Here’s how it happened.
The Lions won the toss and chose to defer, meaning their defense would take the field first. That went just about as well as it has all year. Though Detroit’s run defense forced an early third down, the Lions’ secondary—with Mike Ford starting on the outside—proved to be this team’s biggest weakness. On the very first drive, Cam Newton went 5-of-6 for 80 yard and at touchdown. 7-0 Panthers.
But the Lions had an answer of their own. Kerryon Johnson has had a quiet couple weeks, but he made his presence known on the first drive of the game. He had 42 rushing yards on his own, including an 8-yard scamper into the endzone untouched.
He was also helped by this ridiculous Kenny Golladay grab that kept the drive alive on third down:
After a hot start, both offenses cooled down. Both teams followed up their touchdown drives with three-and-outs, but the Lions were winning the field position battle, pinning the Panthers at their own 2-yard line for their third possession.
Carolina would only get to their own 22-yard line before punting the ball again thanks to tight coverage from Darius Slay.
But Detroit’s offense couldn’t take advantage, as the Lions only moved backwards on their second three-and-out in as many drives.
Again, the Lions defense was able to get off the field fairly quickly. This time, it was Ezekiel Ansah with a huge third-down sack, he second pressure of the game and second sack since returning from injury:
The Lions finally gave the ball back to Kerryon and good things happened. Detroit milked most of the clock and got themselves into field goal position. Though the team stalled thanks to some miscommunication between Matthew Stafford and Kenny Golladay, Matt Prater knocked through a 54-yard field goal for the first Lions lead of the day. 10-7 Lions.
Newton would try to run a one-minute drive, but going deep on the first play proved to be costly. Tracy Walker, playing deep safety, picked off Newton on a brilliant play, giving the Lions a chance to add on to their lead.
Unfortunately, Stafford threw three straight incompletions and Detroit took a 3-point lead into the third quarter.
Kerryon Johnson continued his solid game and kicked things off with a 24-yard run on the first play of the second half. But Detroit couldn’t move the ball much beyond that and opted to punt on fourth-and-4 from Carolina’s 43-yard line. Punter Sam Martin continued his solid day, pinning the Panthers at their own 5.
The Lions defense was so close to getting off the field, but on a third-and-10 play, Panthers rookie receiver DJ Moore made a play over Mike Ford and was off to the race. Had it not been for a speedy Darius Slay, Moore would’ve taken it 95 yards for the score.
That tackle turned out to be HUGE, as the Panthers were stopped in the red zone thanks to a Jarrad Davis sack, and Graham Gano doinked the 34-yard field goal off the upright to keep it 10-7 Lions. The Lions’ voodoo doll of opposing kickers is the most magical object on this Earth.
The Lions offense was able to get things going with some help from Bruce Ellington and Theo Riddick in the passing game. However, the team stalled yet again on Panthers territory and had to settle for a short field goal attempt. 13-7 Lions.
Unfortunately for Detroit, Kerryon was injured on the drive with a knee injury. He was questionable to return.
The Panthers couldn’t answer as Cam Newton suffered an injury, forcing Taylor Heinicke in for a key third down—which Darius Slay shut down for his third finger wag of the game.
The Lions—sans Johnson—worked their way into Panthers territory, but again couldn’t move the ball once over the 50-yard line. At first it looked like the Lions were going to line up for a 58-yard field goal, but a delay of game penalty forced a punt, pinning the Panthers deep in their own zone again.
But the Panthers offense turned on the turbo jets and much like the opening drive of the game, Newton tore up the Lions secondary. Picking specifically on Teez Tabor, Newton found Curtis Samuel for a 12-yard touchdown. But, unbelievably, Graham Gano missed the extra point and it was a 13-13 tie.
The Lions offense wasn’t done, however, and Kenny Golladay put on a show on the next drive. Golladay alone was responsible for 54 yards, including this sick 19-yard touchdown:
Great catch by Golladay for a touchdown pic.twitter.com/xi5MzFj67t— Ian Wharton (@NFLFilmStudy) November 18, 2018
The Lions defense held the Panthers to a quick three-and-out, giving Detroit’s offense a chance to put the game away with 4:28 left. Unfortunately, without Johnson, the Lions couldn’t run the ball and gave Carolina the ball back after three quick plays and 2:44 remaining.
That proved to be more than enough for Cam Newton to move the Panthers down field. It only took six plays and 1:30 off the clock to score. HOWEVER, the Panthers decided to go for two, and the Lions’ coverage held up long enough for Cam to throw an inaccurate pass. LIONS WIN 20-19.
While the Lions’ playoff chances remain a long shot, it was nice to see the team finally put together a solid effort all around. They did some good things on offense defense and special teams, and while 4-6 isn’t where anyone wanted to be, they’re at least competitive again.
For the first time in a few weeks, the Detroit Lions will bring their team home, in yet another effort to keep their 2018 season alive.
It’s been one of the more painful months in recent memory since Detroit last hosted a game. Not only have the Lions lost three straight, but they sent away one of their most talented and entertaining individuals, they’ve dropped two games to divisional rivals, and they’re beginning to make national headlines for all of the wrong, embarrassing reasons.
A win on Sunday wouldn’t put all of that behind them, but it would be a nice start. The Carolina Panthers may be 6-3, but the Pittsburgh Steelers showed last week that this team isn’t quite the dominant team that their record suggests. They can be beat. The question is: Do the Lions still have any fight in them?
Per usual, the Lions are on FOX this week, this time drawing the Kenny Albert-Ronde Barber duo of announcers. If you aren’t by a TV this week, the game will be streaming live on your Yahoo! Sports app, so go ahead and watch it while you’re making a last-minute run to the Cider Mill before it closes or as you compile your Black Friday shopping list.
Here are all the details for catching Sunday’s game:
How to watch Lions-Panthers
Date: Sunday, November 11, 2018
Time: 1 p.m. ET
Location: Ford Field—Detroit, MI
Week 11 TV Map: Courtesy of 506 Sports here
Announcers: Kenny Albert, Ronde Barber, Jen Hale
Online streaming: Fox Sports Go, Yahoo Sports app
Local radio: WJR-AM NEWS TALK 760
Radio announcers: Dan Miller, Lomas Brown
Odds: Panthers by 4