CHARLOTTE – Detroit Lions head coach Dan Campbell had few answers after Saturday's loss as to why his team, with so much on the line making a playoff push with just three weeks left in the regular season, played such uninspired football in a 37-23 loss to Carolina Saturday.
Detroit didn't tackle well, they didn't fit gaps in the run game, they couldn't open holes of their own in the run game on offense, and overall were thoroughly outplayed by the Panthers. The Panthers were coming off a loss to Pittsburgh last week and have playoff aspirations of their own with a chance to win the NFC South.
"They got after us pretty good there," Campbell said after the game. "That's a hard pill to swallow. You say things, but ultimately, when you play that way, it falls on me. I didn't have them ready to go."
Carolina looked like the hungrier team and the more physical team, and that was disappointing to watch with so much on the line for the Lions. Detroit's defense was out-schemed and played undisciplined football.
"Like Dan said, that was a hungry ass team we played," veteran defensive lineman Isaiah Buggs said after the game. "They came ready to play and we didn't. This is the NFL any team can get beat any game any day. If you're not ready if you're not locked in you can get beat and that's what happened today. We're the better team but we didn't play like it today."
Now the Lions head home to Ford Field to face the Chicago Bears (3-12), who are coming off a loss to Buffalo. With Saturday's loss, Detroit's essentially in a must-win situation the next two weeks against Chicago and Green Bay.
Let's hope Campbell has them much more prepared to play because Carolina wanted it more Saturday, and that was evident from the first play of the game to the last.
Amon-Ra St. Brown has become the youngest Lions wide receiver to record a 1,000-yard receiving season.
At just 23 years, 61 days old, St. Brown has broken the record set by Calvin Johnson who held the previous mark at 23 years, 69 days old. St Brown joins Johnson (2008) and Germane Crowell (1999) as the only players 23-or-younger with a 1,000-yard season in team history.
St. Brown caught seven passes for 76 yards to give him 96 receptions for 1,050 yards and six touchdowns on the year.
A fourth-round pick in 2021, St. Brown has become arguably the biggest steal of that draft class. He's just the third player in NFL history to record 90-plus receptions in each of their first seasons (Michael Thomas and Odell Beckham Jr.).
View photos from the Detroit Lions vs. Carolina Panthers Week 16 game at Bank of America Stadium on Saturday, Dec. 24 in Charlotte, NC.
Saturday wasn't one of cornerback Jeff Okudah's better games. Okudah missed some some tackles and allowed a big completion that set up a touchdown. He was eventually replaced by Mike Hughes in the second half.
"We just needed to get Mike in there," Campbell said. "There's some things Mike can do for us that he's good at. He can come in and squeezes on the run. He's pretty sticky in man coverage and he's a good corner. Look, Jeff's fine. Things happen and so Jeff will rally back and be ready to go."
- Lions wide receiver DJ Chark recorded four receptions for 108 yards in the loss. It's the fifth 100-yard game of Chark's career and his first since the 2020 season. He's totaled at least 90 receiving yards in three of his last four games.
- The Lions' defense failed to record a single sack or quarterback hit on Sam Darnold Saturday.