The Detroit Lions came into Week 5 as 10-point favorites over the Carolina Panthers, the most they’ve been favored in a game since 2017. The Lions have knocked down a lot of challenges already this year, but a new one was to take care of business against a team they were clearly better than.
Well, tick off another checkmark. On Sunday, the Lions picked up a decisive win over the Panthers, spending most of the game with a three-score lead over the NFC South foe. The Lions’ defensive effort forced three first-half turnovers, while the offense found the end zone six times in a balanced effort from Jared Goff and the running game.
The Lions move to 4-1 with the win and continue to look like one of the better teams in the conference.
The Panthers won the coin toss and made the rare decision to receive the ball. Carolina moved into Lions territory quickly after Bryce Young found DJ Chark for a key third-and-12 for an 18-yard gain. Detroit challenged the catch, but the ruling was upheld. The Panthers couldn’t get in field goal range, and ended up punting from the Lions’ 45-yard line, pinning Detroit’s offense at the 18-yard line.
It only took the Lions offense three plays to get on the board. Jared Goff got off to a hot start with completions of 23 and 26 to Kalif Raymond and Marvin Jones, respectively. Then David Montgomery got loose for a 42-yard touchdown and an early 7-0 Lions lead.
On the Panthers ensuing drive, Aidan Hutchinson picked off Young on an inside screen to give Detroit fantastic field position. Check out the one-handed grab:
The Lions quickly punched it in. On a third-and-goal, Goff found tight end Sam LaPorta for the 5-yard score. 14-0 Lions.
The Panthers next drive was marred by a couple of injuries. Guard Chandler Zavala suffered a scary injury that required him to be carted off on a stretcher, and on the following play Lions cornerback Emmanuel Moseley suffered a leg injury and went to the locker room. Moseley would later be downgraded to OUT with a knee injury.
Carolina did manage to drive into Lions territory for the second time. They reached the Lions’ 20-yard line just as the clock turned over into the second quarter.
A nifty run Laviska Shenault Jr. set up the Panthers first-and-goal from the 8-yard line. On third-and-goal Tommy Tremble caught a 1-yard pass from Young to make it 14-7 Lions.
The Lions offense went right back to work, as Goff connected with Josh Reynolds for 27 yards on a free play. But on a fourth-and-4 from the Panthers’ 37-yard yard line, the Lions went for it and did not convert.
But Detroit’s defense got the ball right back, as Miles Sanders fumbled and Lions cornerback Will Harris recovered.
The Lions immediately faced another fourth-and-short, but this time they picked it up with a toss to Montgomery that set them up first-and-10 from the Panthers 26-yard line. A few plays later, Goff found Reynolds for a 2-yard touchdown and a 21-7 Lions lead.
The Lions got a big play on the next one from scrimmage, as Jerry Jacobs had an absolutely perfect zone read of this Young pass to pick it off.
... and on the very next play, offensive coordinator Ben Johnson dialed up a reverse flea flicker for a 31-yard score, LaPorta’s second of the day. 28-7 Lions.
With time running low in the half, the Panthers were able to cut into Detroit’s lead. For the third time in the half, Carolina was able to drive into Lions territory, but Detroit held strong in the red zone and held them to a field goal to make it 28-10 Lions at the half.
The Lions have struggled on opening drives to start the second half this year, and they improved this week but still came up empty-handed. A key moment in the drive was on a fourth-and-1 from the Panthers’ 37-yard line. Detroit got Carolina to jump offsides, giving them a fresh set of downs. However, Goff took a sack on third-and-6, taking Detroit out of field goal range.
The Panthers started the ensuing drive on their own 10-yard line, but quickly got out of the shadow of their own end zone with a pair of 12-yard plays. But they couldn’t get much further after a holding penalty and a Hutchinson sack ended the drive.
Goff was under more pressure on the next drive, forcing a quick three-and-out from the offense. Jameson Williams did catch his second pass of the day on the drive, but he was tripped up 6 yards short on a third-and-10. A fantastic punt from Jack Fox pinned the Panthers deep in their own zone.
The Panthers moved even closer to their own zone after a false start and an intentional grounding backed them up to the 1-yard line. That was enough to kill the drive and give the Lions offense great field position.
A 21-yard strike to Reynolds immediately got Detroit into field goal range. A few plays later, backup running back Zonovan Knight suffered a serious-looking arm injury and left the game. The Lions officially listed him as questionable to return with a shoulder injury.
But the Lions offense continued to push and picked up a key third down on a direct snap to Montgomery for 10 yards, pushing the Lions back over 100 rushing yards for the second straight game. The ball was snapped directly through Goff’s legs.
The Lions faced a second-and-goal from the 1-yard line as the game moved to the final quarter.
The Lions didn’t go fancy on the goal line, sneaking Goff in from one yard to make it 35-10 Lions.
It didn’t take the Panthers long to retaliate, however. In just over three minutes, Carolina was able to drive the length of the field. To cap off the drive Young found DJ Chark for a 18-yard touchdown, cutting the lead to 35-17 Lions.
Detroit’s offense would not let the Panthers back into the game, though. A 27-yard pass to Josh Reynolds and a 17-yard run from Craig Reynolds put Detroit in field goal range. Another nice 20-yard run from Craig got the Lions to the 5-yard line. Two plays later, he punched it in for his first career touchdown. 42-17 Lions.
The Panthers would go on to add a garbage time touchdown to make the final score 42-24 Lions.