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TIM AND MIKE: Week 5 observations

Assist, Quin: Safety Glover Quin suggested earlier this year that the NFL ought to give assists on plays, like they do in hockey and basketball, for a player who doesn't make the play but sets it up for a teammate. He turned a running play inside early Sunday, and a tackle was made for a loss. Quin got hand slaps from teammates, but no credit for an assisted tackle. – *Mike O'Hara


Tough catches made all the time: After going back and watching the film of Sunday's game, the Eric Ebron drop in the end zone on the first possession did go right through Shaq Thompson's hands before hitting Ebron in the hands and right shoulder before falling to the ground. Does Thompson blinding Ebron for a second and getting his hands on the ball, though not changing its trajectory, make it tougher to catch? Sure. But I see tough catches made all the time. Pass catchers in this league make contested catches in every ball game. It isn't always going to be perfect. What separates the really good ones is their ability to still make catches when everything isn't perfect. – Tim Twentyman

Sizing up: The Panthers exploited a size advantage they had at wide receiver with 6-5 Kelvin Benjamin and 6-4 Devin Funchess. Funchess had seven catches for 53 yards and a TD. Benjamin had four catches for 58 yards and a TD. – and, to finish it off, the clinching catch. – Mike O'Hara

Nice return: After sitting out the last two games with concussion and neck injuries, rookie MIKE linebacker Jarrad Davis returned to action Sunday. He was good, especially against the run. Davis was the highest graded player on defense for the Lions in the game by Pro Football Focus, after notching eight tackles, two for loss and defending a pass. Carolina rushed 28 times for 28 yards. Davis was one of the reasons why Carolina had such a hard time getting traction on the ground. – Tim Twentyman

Field position battle: The Lions' defense had chances to make stops on Carolina's last three possessions and succeeded on the first two, forcing punts when Carolina began drives at its 19 and 14. The offense converted its two possessions into TDs. The third time was not the charm, though. Starting at its 23, a 17-yard completion to Kelvin Benjamin on third and nine clinched the win for Carolina. – Mike O'Hara

Big pass plays: Only Blake Bortles, Cam Newton and Andy Dalton have attempted fewer passes of 20-plus yards in the air than Matthew Stafford's 17, per Pro Football Focus statistics. Of those, Stafford has completed five for two touchdowns and a passer rating of 108.0. He's been pretty good when attempting those passes.

The problem has been that there simply hasn't been enough of those opportunities to push the ball down the field. It's either been a separation issue with receivers or Stafford not having enough time in the pocket. Detroit's biggest play Sunday was a short pass to Jared Abbrederis that he turned into a 25-yard gain. All four completions of 20-plus yards Sunday came on short passes that pass catchers turned into bigger plays after the catch. – Tim Twentyman

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