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O'HARA'S BURNING QUESTIONS: How much did injuries contribute to Lions' performance on offense?

Lions-Panthers Burning Questions: A fast start by the Panthers in both halves while the Lions' offense remained stuck in neutral the entire game in a 20-0 loss that severely damaged their playoff hopes.

Question: Quarterback Matthew Stafford played with an injured thumb, and the Lions had other key injuries on offense and defense. How much did that contribute to their performance and the loss?

Answer: There are no excuses for injuries or anything else in this game. The outcome was decided by performance, and the Panthers outplayed the Lions at every level.

The Panthers outplayed the Lions on offense with P.J. Walker making his first NFL start at quarterback and having thrown only eight passes in the NFL before Sunday. He wasn't perfect – 24 of 34 for for 258 yards and a TD with two interceptions – but he was a positive force for his team.

There was no positive force anywhere on the Lions' offense. Carolina had a 20-10 edge in first downs, 374-185 in total yards and 116-40 in rushing.

Carolina sacked Stafford five times. The Lions sacked Walker once.

The Panthers simply outplayed and out-hustled the Lions, despite playing without starting quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.

View photos from Detroit Lions vs. Carolina Panthers Week 11 game at Bank of America on Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020 in Charlotte, NC.

Question: First half, what stood out for the Lions?

Answer: Nothing good for the offense. The defense got it together after Carolina drove 95 yards to a TD and a 7-0 lead on the first possession.

The Lions were shut out in the first half for the first time this season. Looking at the stats, it wasn't a surprise.

The Lions gained only 89 yards and four first downs. Stafford completed five of 11 passes for 54 yards. His receivers didn't help matters. Tight end T.J. Hockenson, wide receiver Quintez Cephus and running back Adrian Peterson all dropped passes.

Three drops out of 11 pass attempts represents a 27.3 percent drop rate.

Question: Second half, what stood out for the Lions?

Answer: Nothing good for the offense or defense.

It was even more of the same of what happened in the first half. Carolina scored a touchdown on its first possession and added a field goal to make it 17-0.

The offense continued to struggle and break down. Stafford connected with wide receiver Marvin Jones Jr. on a 51-yard TD pass that would have made it 14-7, but the play was called back on a penalty for an illegal formation.

Ironically, Jones drew the penalty.

It was that kind of game. The Panthers were beating the Lions with their play, and the Lions were beating themselves with their own misplays.

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