American Football

Five key stats from the Panthers’ Week 16 win against the Detroit Lions


Detroit Lions v Carolina Panthers
Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

In an unexpectedly wonderful performance, the Panthers set franchise records in total offensive and rushing yards as they pounded the Lions.

The Carolina Panthers entered this Christmas Eve game at 5-9 and still very much alive in the mediocre NFC South. Detroit entered 7-7 but the Lions were on fire having won six of their last seven games. In the end the Panthers absolutely dominated this game with a historic day running the ball in a 37-23 victory to move to 6-9. Here are the key stats behind Carolina’s big win:

570 / 320 yards – Carolina set a franchise record with 570 total yards and another club record with 320 rushing yards. That’s shocking and mind blowing. A Carolina team with Sam Darnold at the helm and without Christian McCaffrey and Robbie Anderson just set two significant all-time offensive records. Running backs D’Onta Foreman (165 rush yards) and Chub Hubbard (125) both set new career highs on the ground and seemed to bust 15-plus yard chunk plays every other time they touched the ball. Carolina’s offensive line was so spectacular they deserve individual shout outs, so well done Ikem Ekwonu, Brady Christensen, Bradley Bozeman, Austin Corbett, and Taylor Moton. It was nothing short of surreal to watch the Panthers offense go absolutely bonkers in this one.

45 rush yards – On the other side of the ball, Carolina’s defense limited Detroit to just 45 rushing yards on 17 attempts (2.6 YPC). The Panthers front seven got outstanding push throughout the game and made life hard for Detroit’s running backs. The normally effective combination of Jamaal Williams and D’Andre Swift were held to a combined 11 carries for 23 yards.

1 fumble recovery – With the score tied 7-7 at the beginning of the second quarter, the Lions had methodically driven down to the Carolina eight yard line. Just when it looked like Detroit would take the lead, Jared Goff fumbled the snap and Yetur Gross-Matos pounced on the loose ball. This timely turnover may have prevented a Lions touchdown. The Panthers next possession resulted in a touchdown of their own for a 14-7 Carolina advantage.

62 receiving yards – The Panthers led 24-7 in the third quarter. While Carolina’s offense was pounding the run, DJ Moore and the receiving game had yet to make an impact. Moore, in fact, had yet to haul in a reception. But all of that changed when four of the next six plays were completed passes to DJ, including a monster 47-yard bomb on third-and-13. In all, DJ Moore had four receptions for 62 yards and an eventual touchdown on this drive to put the Panthers up 31-7 halfway through the third quarter.

1 pass broken up – The Panthers led 34-13 with 10:28 left to play. The Lions faced fourth-and-5 from the Carolina seven yard line looking to cut the deficit to two scores. Jared Goff bought time in the pocket then floated a pass at the goal line to Josh Reynolds and it looked like a surefire touchdown. But just as the ball hit Reynolds in the hands, Xavier Woods came from nowhere to blow Reynolds up and jar the ball loose for an incomplete pass and a turnover on downs. Game over.

The overall summary

I’m speechless.

The Panthers offensive performance was one of the most random, surprising, and wonderful performances in franchise history.

For 60 minutes on Saturday the Carolina Panthers looked like an elite NFL team. This was one of the most preposterously enjoyable Panthers games I’ve ever witnessed. From the game’s first snap until the last, the Panthers were the hungrier, more aggressive, more prepared, and more complete team. They dominated.

Credit once again to interim head coach Steve Wilks and his staff for what they are accomplishing with this makeshift team. When formally interviewing for the Panthers head coaching job all Wilks needs to do is sit down with David Tepper, pull up film from this game, press play, and at the end just ask, “any questions?”

The playoffs, incredibly, are still a possibility and the Panthers control their own destiny. If they win their last two games against the Buccaneers and Saints, they’re hosting a playoff game in Charlotte. The 2022 Carolina Panthers are in full-on rebuild mode and are still somehow playing meaningful football heading into the new year.

Merry Christmas, y’all!

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