It’s always easy to overreact when a very up-for-grabs game falls to the opposition. Whether or not you’re calling for figurative heads to roll, it still takes a bit of the wind from Detroit’s sails. The score, albeit brought closer in the second half, doesn’t tell the entire story. There were a few notes I had reviewing the stats/film from this matchup, so let’s get into it.
Calm Down, Sit Down
The Lions’ potential to make the postseason is still very well within reach, especially with some of the positives I saw during this game. Jared Goff and the passing game are still firing on all cylinders. Goff’s box score tells you all you need to know: 355 yards and three touchdowns doesn’t come easily, as obvious as that sounds. That passing game alone gives them an edge at trying to make a last effort at the postseason. The receiving core absolutely has a hand in that success, being quite a strong unit throughout the season. The Lions also showed some grit with their late comeback that, while falling short, showed that Detroit wouldn’t bow out by halftime. This, however, is where the compliments and reassurance stops.
Holes in the Hull
“D’Onta Foreman knew the Carolina Panthers’ offensive linemen meant business when they walked into a meeting room following Friday’s walkthrough practice. They were silent, and wearing full-length black ski masks.” That excerpt from AP in itself doesn’t sound appealing to face, but Carolina’s line fully backed up their determined silence with an utter manhandling of Detroit in the trenches. The players that grabbed my attention most were the interior linemen, right/left guard and center. More specifically, on one of Carolina’s seven runs of 20 yards or more, Detroit’s defensive line had been driven backwards nearly two full yards by the time D’Onta Foreman took the handoff. That left Foreman with nothing more than a weak arm tackle from behind to shake before charging downfield. Sam Darnold wasn’t sacked a single time in this game, nor was he even hit. This can be said for Carolina’s defensive line as well, as Detroit’s leading rusher was Jared Goff with 15 YARDS. I know I mentioned earlier that the passing game could haul this team into the playoffs, but it’s beyond difficult to make up for a rushing attack that didn’t feature even a 20 yard rusher. An old football adage is that games are won in the trenches, and I’ve never seen a more perfect example of that sentiment. With that loss, the door into the postseason begins to slowly close, and if another throwaway game occurs in any of these units, it could spell the end of an otherwise Cinderella-esque season.