After almost blowing a 17-point lead entering the fourth quarter, the Carolina Panthers held on to defeat the Detroit Lions 27-24 at Fords Field on Sunday. Picking apart the Lions’ secondary, Cam Newton put up his second consecutive 300-yard passing performance and throwing three touchdowns.
For the second time in the past two weeks, the Panthers watched a comfortable lead dwindle by allowing two fourth-quarter touchdown drives. Lions’ quarterback Matthew Stafford found tight end Darren Fells for back-to-back touchdowns which put the Lions only down a field goal with 3:22 remaining in the game. Newton saved the day by leading a final drive that was highlighted by a 17-yard completion to Kelvin Benjamin on third-and-9 to lock in the win.
The Panthers only managed to rush for 28 yards split between Jonathan Stewart and Christian McCaffrey, but luckily their passing game was strong enough to win. Newton finished with a near perfect game, throwing for 355 yards, three touchdowns on 26 for 33 pass attempts, and a passer rating of 141.8. When Cam threw his third touchdown of the game to Kelvin Benjamin, Newton’s passer rating was a perfect 158.3. Rookie running back Christian McCaffrey found the end zone for the first time in his young career as he caught a 6-yard shovel pass from Newton in the second quarter. McCaffrey finished the game with 51 all-purpose yards. Devin Funchess returned to his home state of Michigan and the former Wolverine caught seven passes for 53 yards and a touchdown. Kelvin Benjamin finished the game with four catches for 58 yards and the Panthers final touchdown of the day. But it was tight end Ed Dickerson who stole the show. Dickerson caught 5 passes for 175 yards, which was the 10th-best receiving total in Panthers’ team history. Graham Gano made two out of three field goal attempts which puts him at 12-for-13 on the season.
The Panthers finished the game with 11 penalties for 100 yards, but the Lions couldn’t capitalize on these errors. Despite having an early 10-3 lead in the second quarter, Detroit didn’t play well offensively until late in the fourth quarter which proved to be too late. Matthew Stafford threw two touchdown passes to tight end Darren Fells in the fourth quarter. The Lions did outrush the Panthers 50 to 28.
The Panthers (4-1) now return home to face NFC East division leader Philadelphia (4-1) in the Thursday night Color Rush game and the Lions (3-2) play the Saints (2-2) who are coming off a bye week in New Orleans on Sunday.