Panthers vs. Lions: Breaking Down Carolina's Performance in 49-35 Loss
Carolina led by 17 in the second quarter, but Matthew Stafford got on a hot streak and the defense could not slow Detroit down. Following turnovers on the team's first three drives, the Lions scored touchdowns on five of their next seven.
The second-half comeback was not difficult to foresee. The Panthers have played rather poorly in the latter periods of games and the Lions have closed out better than any team in the NFL this season.
Newton moved extremely well in the pocket. He made some amazing escapes that I've never seen from an NFL quarterback.
He also spread the ball around well, hooking up for over 30 yards with five different receivers. However, Newton struggled in the clutch, which ultimately lost the game for the team.
He was forcing the ball to his receivers today. Twice, on forced passes to Brandon LaFell, was Newton intercepted. Both came in the fourth quarter.
One of the main reasons that Newton would total four interceptions on the day was another sub-par performance from the offensive line.
Jordan Gross struggled against the veteran Kyle Vanden Bosch, and Ndamukong Suh's presence was felt as is usual for the young star. Pictured above is a hit by Suh on Newton that caused one of the four interceptions.
Early in the first quarter, Newton dropped back and stepped up to deliver a touchdown pass to Greg Olsen, but Gross was pushed into Newton. The hit caused a fluttering ball and the first of the interceptions.
Third Down Efficiency
The Panthers were, once again, far less potent than their opponent in third down situations.
Carolina: 3-for-10, 30 percent
Detroit: 6-for-11, 54 percent
Missed tackles and blown coverages made it easy on the Lions to keep their drives alive, and dropped passes and inaccurate passes continuously stalled the Panthers. Play calling is somewhat to blame, but the execution is ultimately down to the players and it wasn't there on Sunday.
The Panthers were able to get some hits on Matthew Stafford early on, but the Lions quickly adjusted to the Panthers' pass rush and kept their quarterback clean in the second half.
Charles Johnson was nowhere to be found and Greg Hardy was less successful at pinching the pocket than he typically is. Thomas Keiser was the unsung top performer for the defensive line, picking up their only two sacks.
Coverage hasn't been exceptional for Carolina, but it becomes much more difficult to cover when the opposing quarterback has more than five seconds in the pocket on a play-to-play basis.
Rookie Kealoha Pilares managed to break off a kick return touchdown to give the Panthers a comfortable lead in the first half. Detroit was riding high after a quick touchdown drive of its own and the kick return was successful at silencing the crowd for the time being.
The coverage units played solid as well and no big returns were given up. Olindo Mare made his only two field goal attempts. That is a good sign, but the defense must start playing better for the Panthers to complete their team.