One thing Detroit Lions head coach Dan Campbell will always do is give credit where it’s due.
That was the case when his red-hot Lions went cold on the road in Charlotte, losing to the Carolina Panthers, who couldn’t be stopped on offense.
So, when it was time for the head coaches’ customary handshake after the game, Campbell walked right up to interim head coach Steve Wilks and told him how he felt about the Panthers’ performance.
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“That’s an absolute a—kicking. That’s a great f—ing job,” Campbell said to Wilks.
Coming into the game, Campbell’s Lions had a three-game win streak, pushing themselves into the wild card conversation. But the Panthers were also playing for the playoffs with their own division, the woeful NFC South, totally up for grabs despite owning a 5-9 record entering the game.
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Carolina got off to a hot start in this game and wouldn’t turn back, using 320 yards of run game to blast through the Lions’ defense to win 37-23.
The reason why Campbell called it an “a—kicking” was due to D’Onta Foreman and Chuba Hubbard teaming up for 165 and 125 yards, respectively. Foreman also scored one of three Panthers rushing touchdowns.
Quarterback Sam Darnold, much like Detroit’s Jared Goff, has also been playing well and he was efficient in this contest. Darnold is the third quarterback of the year for Carolina, which cut Baker Mayfield and tried P.J. Walker before going to the former first-round pick by the New York Jets.
Darnold was 15 of 22 for 250 yards with one passing touchdown to his favorite target of late, D.J. Moore, who had five catches for 83 yards on seven targets.
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Goff still had himself a good game with 355 yards on 25 of 42 with three passing touchdowns. But Detroit’s defense just couldn’t keep up with how well the Panthers’ offense was running.
Now Wilks and the Panthers will watch closely on Christmas night to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Arizona Cardinals. The Bucs, led by Tom Brady, are only 6-8 on the season. With a loss, the Panthers would be in first place, owning the tiebreaker over Tampa Bay after defeating them earlier in the season. They also have a Week 17 meeting with them.
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The Lions are still in the mix for a wild card, but they will have to beat the Chicago Bears next week if they wish to own the sixth or seventh seed once the regular season is over.