-James Jiang (‘18)
The Lions have continued to impress their fans, even during their hard-fought loss to the Falcons during week three. That is, until this week.
Yes, Lions fans: it is, in fact, that point of the season where the Lions have lost their momentum and the chink in their blue and white armor begins to show. Against an average to above average Panthers defense, any connections between Matthew Stafford and his core group of receivers vanished quicker than Derek Carr can yell “Seattle” as an audible.
Any fans that thought there was still hope for a win this week early on in the game probably only saw the one-yard rushing touchdown by Zach Zenner in the second quarter. However, this was a result of the countless flags by the Panthers, who let the Lions march into the endzone once, but only once. Other glimmers of hope might have been from the touchdown passes of Stafford that could have been, were it not for Eric Ebron’s amazing ability to let the ball fly right in between his hands. With dropped passes varying from their star receiver, Golden Tate III, to their tight end, Eric Ebron, the Lions will always be limited by their inability to put up points on the scoreboard early in the game. Looking at their total yards, Cam Newton was on fire with 355 passing yards and 3 touchdowns, compared to the meer 229 yards, two touchdowns and fumble by Matthew Stafford.
But not all is lost. Although the offense of the Lions failed to reach the end zone without the help of the opposing team, the defense performed like a well-oiled machine against a competent offense. With Haloti Ngata, Ezekiel Ansah and Anthony Zettel putting ample pressure against the Panthers’ offensive line, Jarrad Davis playing well and a well-developed secondary comprised of Darius Slay, Glover Quin and company, the future of the Lions may not be completely hopeless.
At least, this was what was supposed to happen. But in this game, we start to see the glaring issues of the Lions defense as well. The wide open gaps against the run and the Great Plain of space available for Panthers receivers to run free posed huge problems. Cam Newton certainly appreciated it, making him seem like the old 2015 MVP everyone knew and loved.
In typical Lions fashion, a fourth quarter comeback was well within reach following two touchdown receptions by Darren Fells. Additionally, the Lions defense was able to hold off Newton for the time being, making the score 27 to 24 with two minutes remaining. But this was not enough, as the defense could not stop Cam Newton, Devin Funchess and Christian McCaffrey from getting a fresh set of downs past the two minute warning, allowing the Panthers to kneel it out until the end of the game.
Though a close contest near the conclusion, the difference between a win and a loss was not by just half an inch like it was in week three. Instead, the Lions have much to fix during practice in terms of offensive production, as they fall to a record of 3-2 on the season.