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Lions vs. Panthers: What Just Happened?

A collection of thoughts from the Detroit Lions’ awful loss to the Carolina Panthers.

Detroit Lions v Carolina Panthers Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

Well, that sucked. With a chance to have a winning record for the first time in the Dan Campbell era, the Detroit Lions fell completely apart in a 37-23 loss to the Carolina Panthers. Their six-game season just got a lot harder because of it.

As always, I have thoughts on this game. These are those thoughts:

All good things must come to an end

It was a ton of fun to watch this Lions team over this last stretch. They’ve been more fun than they’ve maybe ever been. Sadly, the Lions showed on Saturday that just aren’t ready to take a big step in their progress yet. That big step is being the team that expects to win and then goes out and wins. I don’t know if they simply looked past the Panthers or if it was the cold that affected them, but they turtled in this game and they lost that overcomer attitude and swagger that they carried with them through that seven-game stretch.

It’s not fully over. The Lions can still make the playoffs. But it’s looking more and more like things will come down to everyone’s nightmare. Playing the Packers at Lambeau for an opportunity to make the playoffs.

What the hell was that?

The Lions defense had greatly improved after a rough start to the season. Then they must have stumbled into some sort of vortex? Maybe they lost the powers that they gained after they discovered that wizard was living in a shack at Allen Park? Perhaps they lost their athleticism they got after tripping on a ball and breaking their arms in a way that made the arm tendons heal weirdly? I don’t know.

What I do know is that the Lions allowed 364 offensive yards from a 5-9 team in one half. That’s a Carolina Panthers record. This team has been in the NFL for 27 years and they never did anything like this until the Lions came to town. If you’re not hysterically and manically laughing right now, you have emotions of steel.

When it rains, it pours

The Lions went all in on making this as bad of a game as possible. It wasn’t bad enough to just not be able to stop the run, but the offense looked out of sorts, too. Goff’s turnover-less streak came to an end at the worst possible moment. Then the offense just stopped working altogether and the game completely went sideways. Then the dumb penalties came in. There’s just no reason to get yourself into a position where you’re throwing a guy on the ground after the stop and getting yourself flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct.

I almost can’t even be mad at the Lions. The uniformity is something that companies all over the world are looking for. The way everyone came together to lose this game is staggering.

Amon-Ra St. Brown, 1,000 yards

St. Brown got himself over the 1,000-yard receiving mark in this game. He also got himself over the 90 reception hump too. With that first accomplishment, St. Brown became the youngest Lions receiver in franchise history to have a 1,000-yard receiving season. The previous record holder was, of course, Calvin Johnson.


What a bad day for Jeff Okudah. He missed multiple tackles and allowed some big catches, especially the 47-yard catch he allowed to DJ Moore to start the second half. Perhaps missing DeShon Elliott took away a security blanket for him? Whatever it was, this might have been the worst we’ve seen from Okudah during his time in Detroit. He’s going to need a big bounce back next week.


The Panthers put a hurting on the Lions on Sunday, but they also learned what all 31 other teams in the league already knew. You cannot stop Shane Zylstra. He is a monster and a feared man. You know how they always say “you can’t stop him, you can only hope to contain him?” Well Zylstra can’t be contained either. He is inevitable and he is your father. You will respect him and his hat trick of touchdowns.

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