The Detroit Lions' defense stepped up when it had to, the special teams were special, and the offense did its part to help snap a three-game losing streak with a hard-fought 20-19 win over the Carolina Panthers at Ford Field Sunday.
A 19-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Matthew Stafford to wide receiver Kenny Golladay was the winning score with just over five minutes left in the game, but it's a decision by Panthers head coach Ron Rivera late that will be a hot topic in Carolina for the next couple days.
After scoring on an eight-yard touchdown pass from Panthers quarterback Cam Newton to wide receiver DJ Moore to trim the Lions' lead to 20-19 with 1:07 left in the game, Rivera decided to go for the two-point conversion and the lead instead of the tie.
That decision was likely prompted by the fact that Carolina kicker Graham Gano missed a short field goal and an extra point earlier in the contest.
On the two-point play, Newton had time to scan the field, and looked like he could have potentially run it in, but instead overthrew an open receiver in the end zone to preserve the Lions' victory.
Running back Zach Zenner recovered the ensuing onside kick attempt, and two Stafford kneel downs from there secured a much needed Lions win to improve them to 4-6 on the year.
In a game where the Lions were without wide receiver Marvin Jones Jr. because of injury, Golladay stepped up to catch eight passes for 113 yards and that fourth-quarter score.
Running back Kerryon Johnson recorded the other Lions touchdown, an eight-yard scamper in the first quarter, while Matt Prater added field goals of 54 and 32 yards, respectively.
QB comparison: Stafford had a pretty efficient night down a number of weapons on offense. He completed 23-of-37 passes for 220 yards and a touchdown. He didn't turn the ball over, and finished with a passer rating of 87.7.
Newton completed 25 of his 37 passes for 357 yards and three scores. He also threw an interception (Tracy Walker) in the third quarter. He finished with a passer rating of 114.4.
Injury report: Johnson was having a terrific game for the Lions until leaving the contest in the third quarter with a left knee injury. He didn't return. He finished the game with 87 rushing yards on just 15 carries and a touchdown. He also caught two passes for 10 yards.
Next up: vs. Chicago (6-3)