The Detroit Lions “got exactly what we deserved” in a 37-23 loss to the Panthers

CHARLOTTE – Dan Campbell shook his head back and forth, never changing the look of disappointment on his face.

The The Detroit Lions put up their worst defensive performance of the season on Saturday, allowing 320 rushing yards — the most in 24 years — in a 37-23 loss to the Carolina Panthers, Campbell said after his team ” She didn’t look as hungry as they did.”

How could this happen, Campbell was asked, with so much at stake?

“I can’t explain it,” she said. “I can’t explain it. I know, they suffered a tough defeat against a physical team and they are a physical team. And they weren’t — they were going to make sure it didn’t happen again, and they did.

The Panthers crushed the Lions on Saturday in a game that had major playoff implications for both teams.

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They had seven rushes of more than 20 yards against a Lions defense that had allowed a total of 167 rushing yards in the previous three games, and D’Onta Foreman (165 yards on 21 carries) and Chuba Hubbard (125 yards on 12 attempts) both set career-high in rushing yards to deal a major blow to the Lions’ playoff hopes.

The Lions (7-8) had won three games in a row and six of their last seven games to face postseason contention after a 1-6 start, but now likely need to win their final two games against the Chicago Bears and at the Greens Bay Packers – and ask for help – to reach the playoffs for the first time since 2016.

They still have about a 22% chance of making the postseason, according to FiveThirtyEight.com, with Saturday’s final games still in play.

The Washington Commanders and the New York Giants hold the final two wildcard spots in the NFC, and the Seattle Seahawks (7-8) lead the Lions on head-to-head tiebreakers.

“You get what you deserve in this championship,” said Campbell. “That’s why you love him. It’s heartbreaking, but that’s also why I love it, man. And we all love it. If you’re a true competitor, we got exactly what we deserved today. I mean, the way we played we deserved it, and just like we deserve what happened to us before. The way we played, we earned it. We earned what we got today and we earned the six wins before that.

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The Lions had been playing as one of the best teams in the NFL since early November, beating playoff contenders each of the past three weeks, but had been listless since Saturday kickstarted.

Hubbard ran 30 yards on the first play from scrimmage and had a 35-yard gain after a false start on the next play.

Raheem Blackshear capped Carolina’s five-play, 78-yard opening drive with a 7-yard touchdown run, and Carolina scored on four of its next five possessions to build a comfortable 31–7 lead.

Playing in 20-degree weather with wind gusts that made it look like single digits, the Lions struggled to disengage from blocks and poor tackles defensively, and didn’t have the turnover fortune they had enjoyed in the previous seven weeks

Jared Goff led an eight-play, 60-yard touchdown drive on the Lions’ opening possession, completing third-down passes to DJ Chark and Amon-Ra St. Brown on his way to the end zone, and was in position to give the Lions had an early lead when they fumbled on the second play of the second quarter.

The turnover was Goff’s first since a Week 9 win over the Green Bay Packers.

“I don’t know what happened,” Goff said. “It’s the first time we’ve had it all year, maybe the first time in two years with (center) Frank (Ragnow) and me.”

The Panthers recovered Goff’s fumble at their own 9-yard line and went 91 yards in eight plays for a score. Foreman made a 38-yard run on the second play of the drive and Sam Darnold scored on an option keeper.

The Lions went three-and-out in their next four possessions as the Panthers continued to run at will.

Foreman capped off the Carolina half’s second 90+ yard drive, this time an 11-play, 92-yard walk, with a 4-yard touchdown run with 2:08 left in the second quarter, and Hubbard had a 33-yard run. yards run a minute later to set up a Panthers field goal.

The Panthers set franchise records for rushing and total offense (570 yards) to improve to 6-9. If they win, they will win the NFC South and make the playoffs.

Goff went 25 of 42 passing for 355 yards with three touchdowns to tight end Shane Zylstra for the Lions, who have allowed the fastest rushing yards since their 1998 loss to the San Francisco 49ers.

“We thank those guys,” Campbell said. “They got it after it was pretty good and that was a tough pill to swallow there. You say things, but in the end when you play like that it comes back to me. I didn’t have them ready to go and it wasn’t good enough. We played a hungry team and we didn’t look as hungry as they did. That’s the bottom line.”

Contact Dave Birkett al dbirkett@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.

This article originally appeared in the Detroit Free Press: Dan Campbell: Lions got ‘what we deserved’ in 37-23 loss to Panthers

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