The Detroit Lions delivered a clear message on Sunday with a 42-24 win over the Carolina Panthers in Week 5. Let’s take a look at how each position group contributed to the team’s win and grade them accordingly.
Jared Goff’s performance against the Panthers was a clinic in quarterback excellence. The pocket presence, accuracy, and field vision he displayed were essential in disarming the Panthers’ defense. With two key offensive weapons absent, Goff rose to the occasion, disseminating the football with precision and making pivotal plays that kept the chains moving.
Goff’s ability to remain composed under pressure was a standout aspect of his game. The Panthers’ defensive line was able to get pressure on the quarterback, but Goff’s nimble movements and quick decision-making allowed him to evade pressure, find open receivers, and deliver accurate throws. He is the leader of a cohesive offensive unit that is becoming increasingly dynamic.
- Jared Goff: 20/28 (71.4%), 236 yards passing, 3 TD’s plus 1 TD rushing
Lions head coach Dan Campbell praised Goff, noting, “He’s playing at a high level, and I love where his confidence is at and we came out saying we wanted to throw this ball early in this game and, man, he was on fire… we have a tremendous amount of confidence in him.”
Running Backs: A
David Montgomery’s bullish running style was on display for a second straight week. Every carry showcased his ability to navigate through tight spaces, break tackles, and accumulate yardage after contact. His opening carry, a 42-yard dash to the end zone, set the tone for the Lions’ ground game, which proved instrumental in balancing the offense.
Backup running back Craig Reynolds also made his presence felt in the latter stages of the game. Despite limited touches, Reynolds exhibited a blend of speed and power running that compounded the problems for the Panthers’ defense, already wearied from trying to keep up with Montgomery.
- David Montgomery: 19 attempts, 109 yards, 1 TD plus 2 receptions for 20 yards
- Craig Reynolds: 7 attempts, 52 yards, 1 TD
- Zonovan Knight: 1 reception, 8 yards
WR Josh Reynolds acknowledged Montgomery’s performance, stating, “Yeah, that’s the guy we can get behind. (Number) five, man – he runs that thing.”
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends: B+
With Amon-Ra St. Brown sidelined, the Lions’ receiving corps had to step up. Josh Reynolds assumed the role of the primary receiver effectively, making critical receptions and proving reliable in clutch situations. His ability to make contested catches, especially in the red zone, augmented the Lions’ aerial threat.
Rookie tight end Sam LaPorta continued to impress. His route running, catching ability, and increased involvement in blocking schemes accentuate his rapid development and significant role in the Lions’ offense.
- Josh Reynolds: 4 receptions, 76 yards, 1 TD
- Sam LaPorta: 3 receptions, 47 yards, 2 TD’s
- Kalif Raymond: 3 receptions, 45 yards
- Marvin Jones: 2 receptions, 22 yards
- Brock Wright: 3 receptions, 16 yards
- Jameson Williams: 2 receptions, 2 yards
“LaPorta has come on once again. He just continues to get better and better and so we just spread the ball around a little bit more.” Campbell noted.
Offensive Line: A-
The offensive line’s performance was quintessential. They established dominance early, offering Goff ample time to make reads and throws. Their performance in the run game was equally compelling, creating lanes for Montgomery and Reynolds to exploit.
The veterans on the line were a steady presence all day, showing a harmonious blend of aggression and technique. Their ability to adjust to different defensive schemes, pick up blitzes, and maintain a clean pocket was critical to the offensive success on Sunday.
Taylor Decker, playing in his 100th game as a Detroit Lion, was not just a physical presence but also a leader on the field. His experience and command were evident as he anchored a line that faced a formidable Panthers’ defensive front. Each snap showcased a line that is gelling and can be dominant if healthy.
“We go out there and we expect to win week in and week out… we’re going to go out there every single week and we’re going to perform no matter who we’re playing against.” Decker emphasized, when speaking about his offensive line unit.
Defensive Line: A
The defensive line showed power and precision across from the Panthers. Led by Aidan Hutchinson, the line consistently pressured the Panthers’ rookie quarterback, Bryce Young, disrupting their offensive rhythm. Their ability to contain the run, pressure the quarterback, and force turnovers was instrumental in the Lions’ defensive success.
Hutchinson’s performance deserves singular praise. He exhibited a blend of strength, speed, and technique that made him a constant menace to the Panthers’ offensive line. His interception showcased his athleticism and football IQ.
- Aidan Hutchinson: 3 tackles, 1 sack, 1 QBH, 2 TFL, 1 INT, 1 PD
- Alim McNeill: 3 tackles, 1 FF
- Isaiah Buggs: 2 tackles
- Charles Harris: 1 tackle
- Benito Jones: 1 tackle, 1 QBH
- John Cominskey: 1 tackle
- Romeo Okwara: 1 QBH
Campbell, acknowledging the performance, said, “You talk about complementary football, we’ve been talking about it was time for us to get a knockout, a strip, fumble, that we got. We talked about our D-line coming up with one, (Lions DL Aidan Hutchinson) Hutch got one. Come away with three takeaways and turn those into 21 points offensively, that’s complementary football. So just an outstanding job by those players.”
The linebacker unit played a pivotal role in ensuring the defense remained cohesive. Their contributions in run defense, pass coverage, and blitz schemes were vital in ensuring the Panthers’ offense remained off balance. Alex Anzalone, in particular, showcased his versatility, making tackles, pressuring the quarterback, and dropping back in coverage when required.
Jack Campbell and Derrick Barnes also made their presence felt. Their ability to read plays, react swiftly, and make open-field tackles limited the Panthers’ ability to make big plays. The group’s collective speed and football IQ were evident as they seamlessly switched between different assignments, ensuring the defense remained unpredictable.
- Alex Anzalone: 11 tackles, 2 QBH
- Derrick Barnes: 6 tackles
- Jack Campbell: 2 tackles
Campbell recognized the unit’s collective effort, saying, “I think our linebackers are playing at a high level too across the board.”
The secondary’s performance was commendable. Their ability to lock down the Panthers’ receivers, force turnovers, and support the run defense was vital. Will Harris, Cam Sutton, and Jerry Jacobs stood out, making crucial interventions that thwarted the Panthers’ passing game.
Harris, in particular, was everywhere, breaking up passes, making tackles, and ensuring the deep threat remained contained. Jacobs continued his strong play and ball-hawking skills, making another crucial interception that shifted momentum in the Lions’ favor.
- Will Harris: 9 tackles, 1 QBH, 1 PD, 1 FR
- Kerby Joseph: 5 tackles
- Cam Sutton: 5 tackles
- Jerry Jacobs: 4 tackles, 1 INT, 1 PD
- Tracy Walker: 4 tackles
Campbell praised the secondary’s resilience, noting, “ These guys who are being asked to step up are making plays for us. We’re not getting any drop-off and when we need someone to show up, they show up for us. (Lions CB) Will Harris steps in makes plays, (Lions S Ifeatu Melifonwu) Iffy was doing it once we lost (Lions S) Kerby (Joseph).”
Special Teams: A-
The special teams, though not always in the limelight, played their role effectively. From precision punting to maintaining field position, to a 6-6 performance from kicker Riley Patterson, their contribution was pivotal in the Lions’ overall game strategy.
- Riley Patterson: 6/6 extra points
- Jack Fox: 2 punts, 2 inside 20-yard line, 88 yards total (long of 55 yards)
- Zonovan Knight: 1 KR, 22 yards
- Anthony Pittman: 2 tackles
- Jalen Reeves-Maybin: 1 tackle
- Malcolm Rodriguez: 2 AS
- Darrell Daniels: 1 AS
Special teams coordinator Dave Fipp summed up his thoughts on Patterson and the unit as a whole: “Yeah, he’s been solid. We’re obviously happy with the way he’s played.”
“Yeah, he’s been solid…I think the whole operation also around him has done a real nice job. The snaps have been really good, the holds have been outstanding, and he’s done a good job. The protection – I didn’t think the protection was great early on, but thought it’s improved…So, I think the whole operation’s done a good job.”
The Lions coaching staff exhibited shrewd game-planning and real-time adjustments. From offensive play-calling to defensive schemes, the coaches ensured the Lions remained a step ahead of the Panthers throughout the game.
The balance between the run and the pass, aggressive defensive schemes, and special teams execution were all a reflection of meticulous preparation. The staff’s ability to adjust to in-game situations, read the Panthers’ adjustments, and counter them effectively showcased a coaching unit working in tandem and at the top of their game.
Campbell encapsulated the sentiment post-game, saying, “They came out, they set the tone for the game and really never let off the gas.”
There’s nothing better than when you tell your team just concerns and you talk about it and your team tells you ‘Coach, just freaking relax, alright? We got it.’ And they did that today. They came out, they set the tone for the game and really never let off the gas…I’m proud of the way we showed up.”
In conclusion, the Detroit Lions’ Week 5 victory over the Carolina Panthers was a testament to teamwork, preparation, and execution. Each position group contributed to the win, reflecting a team that is cohesive, synchronized, and still on the ascent.
For more from our Detroit Lions beat writer, Matt Broder, check him out on Twitter here: @mattbro21
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Original Photo Credit: © Junfu Han / USA TODAY NETWORK