1:00 p.m. ET
Key Coaching Decision #1: (CAR ball, trailing 20-19 / 2-point conversion attempt / 1:14 Q4)
• The Panthers had just scored. A converted PAT to tie the game at 20 would give the Panthers a good opportunity to win the game in overtime. Yes, the Lions would get the ball back after a kickoff, but there would only be about one minute left in regulation, and the Panthers defense had begun playing better as the game wore on. Instead, Panthers head coach Ron Rivera decided to try a 2-point conversion, even though a successful try would not have ensured a victory. It is somewhat understandable that Rivera would have contemplated a 2-point try given that Panthers kicker Graham Gano had already missed an extra point and a short field goal attempt earlier in the game. However, Gano has only missed three extra points all year and, statistically speaking, would likely have made the PAT. The 2-point try failed, and the ensuing onside kick also failed, and the Lions went on to win the game.
• The Lions came into this contest with an excellent game plan. On offense, the Lions stayed very patient with their running game, and when did they did throw the ball, they emphasized getting the ball out of quarterback Matt Stafford’s hand quickly. Defensively, the Lions did an excellent job staying disciplined as well as stringing out plays from sideline to sideline.
• The Lions haven’t had much of a pass rush all year, but in this game, their rush showed up; linebacker Jarrad Davis did an excellent job blitzing.
• We feel that Lions head coach Matt Patricia and his staff did as good a job in this game as they have done all year. The Lions had recently traded wide receiver Golden Tate, were missing tight end Michael Roberts and had not been playing well as of late. Additionally, the Panthers were coming off a terrible Thursday night loss the previous week and had much motivation to perform better.