Looking more like swiss cheese than a run defense, the Carolina Panthers rushers went through the Lions run D Sunday like a hot knife through butter, rushing for 8.3 yards per carry as the Panthers sent Detroit to 0-10 with a 31-22 win. It was a record setting day for the Panthers, as they ran for a team-record 264 yards, with rookie Jonathan Stewart going for 130 yards and a score.
Not to be outdone, DeAngelo Williams also had a big day, going for 120 yards and two scores. Not that the Lions didn’t hang around as heavy underdogs vs Carolina. They actually had the game at 24-22 midway through the fourth quarter, only to then be outplayed in the final few minutes due to the fact they could not stop the Carolina run game at all.
Daunte Culpepper got another start for the Lions, and went 20-for-35 for 207 yards and one TD with two picks. Jake Delhomme again was rather ugly for the Panthers, going just 10-for-19 for 98 yards with a score. Last week against Oakland, Delhomme had four picks, but this time, all he had to do was get the snap from center and hand off to see the offense gain yards.
The Lions led 13-7 at the 4:43 mark of the second quarter after a Culpepper to Calvin Johnson TD, then a pair of Jason Hanson field goals. Carolina came back, as Williams scored from 56 yards out, then Stewart scored from 22 yards out with 1:03 left in the first half to make it 21-13. Hanson’s 27-yard field goal with 4 seconds left in the half made it 21-16.
Down 24-16 in the fourth, Culpepper and the Lions went on an impressive 15-play, 70-yard drive that ended with Culpepper going in to make it 24-22. Culpepper then tried to get the two-point conversion on his own, but was stopped, keeping the Panthers ahead. Carolina then put the game away as Williams went in from four yards out on the next drive with 4:44 left to make it 31-22.
The Lions final two drives ended with a punt and a fumble, stopping any chance of pulling off what would have been a major upset. Detroit did have 316 total yards, 130 on the ground and 186 in the air. They allowed though 362 yards, 264 to the Panthers run game that ran over them.
The now 0-10 Lions will try again next week to get their first win, as they play at home vs the Buccaneers. The Panthers at now 8-2 atop the NFC South will play rival Atlanta in the Goergia Dome.