DETROIT (AP)The Detroit Lions were without arguably their best player and a dynamic rookie on offense.
Detroit didn’t miss a beat.
Jared Goff threw three touchdown passes in the first half and ran for another score in the fourth quarter, lifting the Lions to a 42-24 victory over the winless Carolina Panthers on Sunday.
Detroit scored at least 27 points in consecutive first halves for the first time in franchise history and topped 20 points in a team-record 14th game in a row, despite missing receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown and running back Jahmyr Gibbs.
“These guys who have been asked to step up are making plays,” Lions coach Dan Campbell said. “We’re not getting any drop-off.”
The NFC North-leading Lions (4-1) are alone atop the division in October or later for the first time since 2016 and have won 12 of their last 15 games dating to last season.
“It’s no secret, the Lions have been playing good football for 15 games,” said offensive tackle Taylor Decker, who made his 100th start for the team.
The Panthers (0-5) turned the ball over three times in the first half – two coming on consecutive snaps – to set up Detroit up for three touchdowns and a 28-10 halftime lead.
“We knew they have an explosive offense, but we made the game much too easy for them,” Carolina coach Frank Reich said.
Carolina rookie quarterback Bryce Young was picked off twice in the first half and Miles Sanders lost a fumble.
Young, the No. 1 overall pick, was 25 of 41 for 247 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions. The former Alabama star entered the game with two touchdowns, two interceptions and two lost fumbles in three starts.
“It doesn’t matter what success I had in college,” Young said. “I’m no different than anyone else on the team at this point.”
Goff was 20 of 28 for 236 yards, and his 1-yard sneak early in the fourth put Detroit ahead 35-10.
“Love where his confidence is at,” Campbell said. “He was on fire.”
David Montgomery, with 109 yards rushing, became the first Lion to run for 100-plus yards and score in two straight games since Kevin Jones in 2004. Rookie tight end Sam LaPorta caught two TDs in the first half.
Detroit’s Aidan Hutchinson used his right hand to snag Young’s short pass in the first quarter and became the first NFL defensive lineman to have four interceptions in his first two seasons.
The Panthers bounced back from a 14-0 deficit when Young threw a 1-yard TD pass to Tommy Tremble. Carolina stopped Detroit on fourth down on the ensuing possession.
Turnovers stopped any potential momentum.
The Lions, as if they were toying with Carolina, called a reverse flea-flicker and Goff found LaPorta wide open for a 31-yard touchdown to go ahead 28-7 late in the first half.
Lions receiver Jameson Williams returned from a suspension for gambling that was shortened to four games and had a pass go through his hands.
Williams had two catches for 2 yards and made a key block on Montgomery’s touchdown run.
“This is all I expected,” Campbell said. “He’ll get a few more plays next week.”
DOING HIS PART
Veteran Carolina receiver Adam Thielen matched a season high with 11 catches and had 107 yards with a 1-yard touchdown catch late in the lopsided game.
Panthers: Rookie OG Chandler Zavala was alert and able to move all extremities at a hospital after being carted off the field with a neck injury late in the first quarter. “We think it was a bad stinger, but our medical staff is always going to take every precaution to protect our players,” Reich said. .. Starting DBs Xavier Woods (hamstring) and Donte Jackson (shoulder) were inactive.
Lions: CB Emmanuel Moseley (knee) left the game in the first quarter in his Detroit debut, which was delayed by injuries. … RB Zonovan Knight (shoulder) was hurt in the third quarter. … St. Brown (abdomen), Gibbs (hamstring) and DB Brian Branch (ankle) were inactive.
Panthers: At Miami next Sunday.
Lions: At Tampa Bay next Sunday. The game was moved to a late afternoon start to take advantage of Detroit’s surging popularity.
AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl