Lions @ Panthers
Two poor defenses entered the arena in Carolina and one emerged less poor than they once were. The Panthers beat down on an injury-riddled Lions’ team that seemingly shot themselves in the foot when a decent opportunity arose. The Panthers rode the arm of P.J. Walker en route to a 20-0 victory over the visiting Lions. Let’s dive in and see what we can take away from this game.
Matthew Stafford: 18/33, 178 yards, 5 sacks | 4 carries, 5 yards
This was not Matthew Stafford’s day. He barely reached a 50% completion percentage and the Panthers put pressure on him all game. On the Lions’ opening possession, Stafford completed his first attempt which came on 3rd and 3. It was a little dump pass to Kerryon Johnson. Three consecutive incompletions later which included a bad drop by Adrian Peterson, the Lions were punting the ball back to the Panthers.
Down 7-0, the Lions again opened the drive with two Adrian Peterson carries. On 3rd and 5, disaster struck. A-YO DJ! Queue up the Benny Hill music for this one.
📽 Frank Ragnow manque le snap, et Marquis Haynes récupère ce fumble ! #KeepPounding
📺 @beinsports_FR #nflextra
📱 #NFLGamePass pic.twitter.com/CrPU1RLeVu
— NFL France (@NFLFrance) November 22, 2020
Following a Lions’ interception in the end zone, Stafford was back under center at their own 25-yard line. On 2nd and 4, Stafford hit Marvin Jones for a big 21-yard gain. But three plays later, including a perilous swing pass to Kerryon Johnson that was almost picked off by Brian Burns, the Lions were again punting the ball away.
The Lions took over following a Panthers three-and-out and the drive started off promising with a little Stafford scramble and a completion to Quintez Cephus for a 1st Down. But on 3rd and 6, Stafford watched a ball clank off Hockenson’s hands to fall incomplete and set up the Lions’ third punt of the day.
On the Lions’ final possession of the 1st Half, Stafford hit Hockenson on a TE screen for an 11-yard gain but saw his only other pass attempt of the 5-play drive fall incomplete. The Lions punted for the fourth time in five drives to start the game.
The Lions got the ball to open the 2nd Half, but it was more of the same. Stafford completed a short pass to Hall, but two incompletions later, including a tipped pass, and the Lions were once again punting the ball away. Following a Panthers’ touchdown, Stafford started a drive looking like the Stafford of old. After hitting Jamal Agnew twice, Stafford hit Hockenson on 3rd and 5 for 19 yards. The very next play, Stafford handed the ball to Kerryon Johnson, who pitched it back to Stafford. The Lions’ quarterback went deep and connected with Marvin Jones…..but wait, a flag on the play. Illegal formation on Jones called back the 51-yard touchdown. Three plays later, one of which was a deep ball that went off the fingertips of Agnew and Stafford taking a sack, the Lions were once again punting the ball away.
EFE OBADA SACKS STAFFORD 🇬🇧💪
📺 NFL Game Pass | @Panthers | @EfeObadaUK pic.twitter.com/YHSayokfdK
— NFL UK (@NFLUK) November 22, 2020
With the score 17-0, the Lions took over late in the 3rd Quarter. On 3rd and 1, the Lions ran a play-action fake, with Hockenson leaking off the line. Stafford hit him and Hockenson was off, picking up 35 yards and getting deep in Carolina territory for the first time today. A weird QB keeper, incomplete pass, and sack set up a 51-yard field goal try for Matt Prater that missed bad wide left.
Following the second interception in the end zone by P.J. Walker, the Lions took over at the 25-yard line with just over 9 minutes to play. Stafford managed to complete a pass to Marvin Jones on 4th and 2 to keep hopes alive, but two consecutive sacks then made it 3rd and 20. Two incompletions later and the Panthers took over on downs.
Brian Burns has 2 sacks today against the #Lions, who are scoreless. pic.twitter.com/GlafBWozoQ
— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) November 22, 2020
The next/last possession of the game was more of the same. Stafford managed to complete short passes to Johnson, Jones, and Jesse James, but then took a sack and on 4th and 13 threw an incompletion to turn the ball over one more time. After the game, Stafford said he didn’t think the thumb injury limited his abilities, but that combined with missing Golladay, Swift, and Amendola certainly made this team look like they belonged in the XFL.
Ladies and gentleman, I present to you: Matt Stafford missing yet another target. pic.twitter.com/soZzewejcz
— Ian Richardson (@IanRichLKN) November 22, 2020
Adrian Peterson: 7 carries, 18 yards | 1 target
Kerryon Johnson: 6 carries, 17 yards | 5 targets, 2 receptions, 21 yards
Jamal Agnew: 6 targets, 3 receptions, 10 yards
Why can’t we have nice things?? This was supposed to be D’Andre Swift week, but a mystery concussion caused Swift to miss this weeks’ game against the Panthers. That made it Adrian Peterson SZN?? Ugh. On the Lions’ second possession, Peterson literally ran directly into his offensive lineman. In the second quarter, they ran a stretch play for Peterson to get him to turn the edge with his speed(??), and obviously it was stopped for no gain.
When we look at the snaps, it was 39 for Kerryon Johnson versus just 17 for Adrian Peterson. I listed Jamal Agnew among the running backs, because that’s technically his position, but for the most part, he was split out wide on his 28 snaps.
Heading into this game, Lions’ RB coach Kyle Caskey indicated they were going to use a “fresh” Kerryon Johnson and they did, but I think this game confirmed what we already knew about both Peterson and Johnson – one’s old and one’s just bad. Let’s pray that D’Andre Swift is able to return next week.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
T.J. Hockenson: 7 targets, 4 receptions, 68 yards
Marvin Jones, Jr.: 6 targets, 4 receptions, 51 yards
Marvin Hall: 3 targets, 3 receptions, 16 yards
Quintez Cephus: 2 targets, 1 reception, 9 yards
Jesse James: 2 targets, 1 reception, 3 yards
I’m not really even sure where to start with this one. T.J. Hockenson led the team in targets, receptions, and receiving yards. His big play came on a great play-action fake on 3rd and 1. Hockenson leaked off the line and found nothing but open space ahead of him to pick up 35 yards. Hockenson did have a bad drop on a 3rd and 6 pass that would’ve gone for a 1st Down in Carolina territory with the score just 7-0. Hockenson was on the field for just 37 of Detroit’s 56 snaps.
It’s ironic that Marvin Jones finished with 51 yards considering his 51-yard touchdown catch got called back due to his own illegal formation penalty. Jones was lined up covering the tight end which is what drew the flag. Honestly, lining up that way gave him no advantage or disadvantage and it cost the Lions. If we include that deep ball, Stafford targeted Jones three times deep down the field. Jones led the Lions’ wideouts with 50 snaps.
After Jones and Hockenson, things are pretty bleak. Marvin Hall played 38 snaps, but saw just three short targets, while Quintez Cephus played on just 17 snaps.
P.J. Walker: 24/34, 258 yards, 1 TD, 2 INTs, 1 sack, 1 fumble | 5 carries, -2 yards | 1 target
P.J. Walker’s first start in the NFL certainly had some ups and downs en route to his first victory. Walker had three balls caught in the end zone, two of which were caught by the Lions.
Walker opened the game by completing a swing pass to Robbie Anderson for a 9-yard game. His second completion came on 3rd and 5 to Curtis Samuel for a 12-yard gain. Following a too many men on the field penalty, the Panthers then found themselves in a 3rd and 9. Walker had his pass tipped at the line and it fell incomplete to end the drive.
The Panthers’ second possession started from their own 5-yard line. The Lions started their first possession on their own 8-yard line. After connecting with Mike Davis and D.J. Moore earlier in the drive, Walker hit Moore in stride for a monster 52-yard gain. Notice how Walker moves the safety by keeping his head looking on the other side of the field before throwing deep to Moore. Lions’ corner, Jeff Okudah was completely burnt on this route.
PJ Walker with a rocket 👀#DETvsCAR pic.twitter.com/5ZYmZFP8Sp
— DraftKings (@DraftKings) November 22, 2020
Walker gave a little shovel pitch to Curtis Samuel to get the ball down to the 7-yard line and two plays later, Mike Davis took the plunge to make it a 7-0 game.
A terrible Lions’ snap gifted the Panthers with the ball on the Detroit 22 yard line. A trio of runs got the ball down to the 9-yard line. Two plays later, Walker hit Amari Oruwariye for an interception in the end zone.
.@AmaniO picks off Walker’s pass in the end zone! #OnePride
📺: #DETvsCAR on FOX
📱: NFL app // Yahoo Sports app: https://t.co/dGRXeByfnl pic.twitter.com/VhH1onVVxx
— NFL (@NFL) November 22, 2020
The Panthers had a trio of meh possessions to end the 1st half. The first started with a Rodney Smith fumble and a tipped pass. The second saw Walker complete a pair of short passes to Anderson and Samuel (who took a shot to the back on the catch) before overthrowing Samuel on a 3rd and 7 pass attempt. On the Panthers’ final possession of the 1st half, Walker completed passes to Moore, Davis, and Samuel as they looked to be on the move. On 2nd and 10 from the Carolina 37, Walker was pressured from a cornerback blitz but managed to sneak through the line and was able to pick up 12 yards for a first down. But an illegal hands to the face penalty negated the play. Two plays later, the Panthers punted to end the 1st Half.
Following a three-and-out to open the 2nd Half by the Lions, the Panthers took at their own 34-yard line. On 2nd and 6, Walker hit Robby Anderson for an 18-yard gain. On the very next play, Walker was pressured and rolled out to his right before unloading a pass to Moore for a 20-yard gain. The Panthers tried a little trickery, handing the ball off to Samuel, who lateralled the ball to Moore and looked to complete a short pass to Walker, but it fell incomplete. Two plays later, Walker hooked up with Samuel for his first NFL touchdown pass.
Former XFL great @pjwalker_5 with his first career TD Pass in the NFL!! 🙏
(via @Panthers) pic.twitter.com/1bJpeewoy9
— FOX Sports: NFL (@NFLonFOX) November 22, 2020
With the score 14-0, the Panthers kept their foot on the gas peddle as Walker dropped back to pass on 6 of the 8 plays on the next drive. He completed a big 3rd and 2 pass to Moore for a 12-yard gain and the Panthers put a field goal on the board to make it 17-0.
A Lions’ missed field goal set the Panthers up at the Carolina 41-yard line. The Panthers were able to ride the ground game deep into Lions territory. In fact, Walker only attempted two passes on the drive. This was the second, which became his second interception in the end zone of the game. Honestly, I can only assume Walker expected a different route by Moore on this play.
UW’s Desmond Trufant got UP for an interception in the end zone.
— WestCoastCFB (@WestCoastCFB) November 22, 2020
For the rest of the game, Carolina ran the ball, eating clock, before a couple of kneel-downs by Walker ended the game.
Mike Davis: 19 carries, 64 yards, 1 TD | 2 targets, 2 receptions, 15 yards
Rodney Smith: 8 carries, 29 yards, 1 fumble
Alex Armah: 1 target
Early in the game, it seemed like Mike Davis and Rodney Smith were splitting reps, but the final snap count was 52 to 9 in favor of Davis.
On the Panthers’ first touchdown drive, Mike Davis caught a little swing pass and was dancing on the Lions. He looked shifty all game and had multiple carries that could’ve gone for losses or no gain if not for his abilities. I guess that’s why he leads the league in missed tackles. Here’s his touchdown.
Mike Davis runs it in!!
— SidelineMike (@SidelineMike_) November 22, 2020
And here’s an example of his shiftiness.
🌪 @MikeDavisRB 🌪
📺: #DETvsCAR on FOX
📱: NFL app // Yahoo Sports app: https://t.co/dGRXeByfnl pic.twitter.com/BGOaVXOtB0
— NFL (@NFL) November 22, 2020
It was surprising to see Rodney Smith handle 3 of the Panthers’ first 4 carries on the opening drive of the game. However, following his 2nd Quarter fumble, which the Panthers were lucky to recover, Smith touched the ball just two times the rest of the game.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
D.J. Moore: 11 targets, 7 receptions, 127 yards | 1 carry, 21 yards | 0/1 passing
Curtis Samuel: 10 targets, 8 receptions, 70 yards, 1 TD | 1 carry, 4 yards
Robby Anderson: 9 targets, 7 receptions, 46 yards
Chris Manhertz: 1 target
D.J. Moore played on 61 of the Panthers’ 71 snaps. Moore was Walker’s favorite target. Moore saw three deep targets, catching two. Walker also looked to Moore 4 times on 3rd Down. Technically Moore saw two targets in the end zone, but both resulted in interceptions. Moore’s lone carry was a huge end around that picked up 21 yards.
Walker lost in the backfield with the play behind him #OnePride pic.twitter.com/ET064bGT7t
— Darren L (@fbiagent4hire) November 22, 2020
Curtis Samuel caught Walker’s lone touchdown while seeing 10 targets. He was third in snaps of the wideouts at 48 but saw the second-most targets. He saw just two deep targets, catching one, and saw 3 targets in the red zone. Here’s a different angle of Samuel’s touchdown reception.
Lions getting cooked by the 2nd best QB from the xfl pic.twitter.com/1oQTkEiKSJ
— Tony X (@soIoucity) November 22, 2020
Robby Anderson played on 50 of the team’s snaps and saw a solid 9 targets. One of the concerning things about Anderson’s targets is they were all short, so no deep balls. He also had no targets in the red zone and no targets on 3rd Down.
— Rich Holman (@RichardoPL83 on Twitter)