That would be the end of good news for Detroit. For four quarters, they looked absolutely lost in Carolina. Without D’Andre Swift, Kenny Golladay and Danny Amendola, the Lions absolutely had no workable gameplan. Defensive, they were able to pick up a couple turnovers, but, otherwise, they gave Walker a comfortable debut.
In the end, Detroit was completely outclassed by a 3-7 Panthers team, losing 20-0. They were shut out for the first time in 11 years, and the only time with Matthew Stafford playing.
Here’s how it happened.
The Panthers and P.J. Walker got the ball first, and were able to move the ball to midfield. However, Nick Williams, back from injury, was able to bat down a third-down pass and force a punt.
Detroit’s offense couldn’t do any better on their first possession, earning one first down before punting the ball back to Carolina. With D’Andre Swift sidelined, the Lions used Adrian Peterson early in the game, and he had a key dropped pass on second down.
Carolina opened up the scoring on the next drive. Walker found DJ Moore, who had thoroughly beaten Jeff Okudah, down the field for a 52-yard gain.
A few plays later, Mike Davis bowled it in from 1 yard.
The Lions continued to roll with Peterson, picking up five yards on two carries. But on third down, center Frank Ragnow scooted a snap on the ground that Matthew Stafford was unable to corral. The Panthers picked up the fumble and were already in field goal range as the clock ticked over to the second quarter.
But the Panthers gave a gift right back to Detroit. Walker through a pass directly to Amani Oruwariye for the interception.
Detroit was able to move the ball down to midfield, but on a third-and-5, Brian Burns broke up a Stafford pass and ended the drive. The Lions defense was able to get a three-and-out, giving Detroit solid field position to score their first points of the game. Again, Detroit was able to drive to midfield, and again, the Lions chose to punt on a fourth-and-6 from just over midfield.
The team simply traded punts for the rest of the half, with the Lions—yet again—punting from the Panthers side of the field, this time on a fourth-and-3. A cowardly strategy, indeed:
In the end, both teams were scoreless in the second quarter.
Detroit offense came out passing, but remained completely inefficient. Stafford couldn’t connect with Marvin Jones Jr. on a third-and-5, forcing the Lions into yet another three-and-out.
Carolina would extend their lead on their first drive of the second half. First, Walker connect with DJ Moore for 20 yards. Then a couple plays later, he found Curtis Samuel who had toasted Desmond Trufant for a 17-yards score. 14-0 Panthers.
The Lions answered with a huge trick play to bring this back to a one-score game.
Lions go with that “pass back-and-forth” kinda thing and score the TD but they get called for illegal formation. Sigh. pic.twitter.com/fXde0UXnX4— Russell Brown (@RussNFLDraft) November 22, 2020
Oh, right. There was a flag on the play. Illegal formation. The Lions punted three plays later.
Carolina would respond with a field goal, pushing it to a three-score game. 17-0 Panthers.
A nice play-action play to T.J. Hockenson finally got the Lions into field goal position as the game turned into the fourth quarter.
Unfortunately for Detroit, Stafford surrendered a sack on third down, and Matt Prater pushed a 51-yard field goal wide left.
That was the last shot for the Lions to score points, as the Panthers teed off on Matthew Stafford in the final 15 minutes, and Detroit never got close again. The Panthers would add a field goal, but this one was over well before then.
With the loss the Lions drop to 4-6, and the Matt Patricia era now has its defining loss. At this point, it seems like an inevitability. This team is not headed in the right direction and it never has been since Patricia walked through these doors.