The Carolina Panthers are trying to buck a five-game losing streak when they host the Detroit Lions this afternoon at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, and their challenge just got more difficult.
Teddy Bridgewater is inactive for today’s game (knee injury) and PJ Walker will be the Panthers’ starting quarterback. It is Walker’s first career NFL start.
The Observer has five journalists in uptown Charlotte for today’s 1 p.m. kickoff. Follow along here for live updates, breaking news and scoring updates as they happen.
Carolina Panthers’ fans saw something Sunday they haven’t seen in awhile:
The other team’s punter.
The Panthers defense had their best performance of the season, repeatedly getting off the field on third down. That took a lot of pressure off backup quarterback PJ Walker, starting for an injured Teddy Bridgewater.
Walker threw two interceptions in the end zone, but also threw his first NFL score, playing pretty well overall, and the Panthers ended their five-game losing streak, beating Detroit 20-0.
It was Carolina’s first win since beating the Falcons on Oct. 11.
It was the Panthers’ first shutout in five years.
When Detroit punted early in the game Sunday, it was just the third punt Carolina had forced in five weeks.
But Panthers were just different on defense Sunday. They had five sacks, more than 1/3 of their season total of 12, and constantly got pressure on Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford. That pressure was also something Carolina had not done much all season.
The Panthers effectively ended the game with 6:17 minutes to play when Detroit was forced to try a fourth and 20 at its 22, with Carolina up 17-0. The attempt failed.
At that point, Detroit had 156 total yards.
Lions were shut out for the first time since 2009, in Stafford’s rookie year. It was just the second shutout this season. The Dolphins shut out Jets 24-0 in Week 6.
Carolina’s defense allowed 185 total yards and just 40 rushing. Detroit was 3-of-14 on third down and 1-of-3 on fourth down. The Lions punted six times.
Walker threw for 258 yards, completing 24-of-34 passes, and the Panthers ran for 121. Mike Davis led the team with 19 carries for 64 yards and a score.
JOEY SLYE FIELD GOAL: PANTHERS 20, LIONS 0
5:00, Fourth Quarter: Slye missed a 42-yard field goal but Detroit corner Justin Coleman was penalized for running into Slye. Slye then made a 37-yard kick.
Detroit cornerback Jeff Okudah injured
On a third down play late in the fourth quarter, Jeff Okudah came up to make a tackle on Panthers running back Rodney Smith.
Okudah, who played at Ohio State, suffered a shoulder injury.
Panthers throw another pick in end zone
New Panthers QB PJ Walker threw an interception in the end zone in the first half with his team up 7-0. He did again in the fourth quarter with his team up 17-0. On third and goal at the 7, Walker lobbed a pass to the right side of the end zone. It was well over the end of DJ Moore, who had two Lions players near him.
A third Detroit player, Desmond Trufant, got the interception. Trufant had been burned earlier on a Walker scoring pass to Curtis Samuel. There are 9 minutes, 10 seconds left to play.
JOEY SLYE FG: PANTHERS 17, LIONS 0
1:59 Third Quarter: Slye made a 56-yard field goal after the Panthers defense got yet another stop -- and a break -- on Detroit’s previous possession (see below).
Penalty takes away 51-yard Detroit touchdown
Following the Panthers second score, and a 14-0 lead, an illegal formation penalty took away a 51-yard flea flicker for Detroit, when Marvin Jones caught a long pass from Matthew Stafford, after Stafford had handed the ball to a running back who tossed it back to Stafford.
Jones out-fought Caroina linebacker Shaq Thompson in the end zone for the ball, but the penalty brought the play back.
The Detroit drive ultimately ended with a sack by the Panthers defense.
CURTIS SAMUEL TD: PANTHERS 14, LIONS 0
Samuel beat Desmond Trufant, who appeared to be staring down Walker and missed Samuel running free towards the right side of the end zone.
Detroit special teams player injured
With 14:07 left in the third quarter, third-year pro Mike Ford appeared to injure his head or neck while making a hit on Panthers punt return man Pharoh Cooper. Ford’s left shoulder and neck area looked like it jammed into Ford’s upper leg.
Ford left the field under his own power. He is being evaluated for a concussion.
Recess: Panthers 7, Lions 0
Carolina had an early shot for a two-touchdown lead after a sudden turnover, but quarterback PJ Walker, making his first NFL start, threw an interception in the end zone.
The Panthers defense, however, was surprising strong.
Carolina regularly got Detroit off the field on third down, which was news, given that when Detroit attempted its first punt Sunday, it was just the third punt by a Panthers opponent in five games.
Detroit was 1-for-7 on third downs in the first half.
Panthers offensive lineman injured
Carolina offensive lineman Dennis Daley (6-6, 325) was injured in the second quarter.
Daley, a second-year player from South Carolina, started at right guard Sunday. Michael Schofield replaced him in the lineup while Daley got medical attention.
Daley was evaluated for a concussion and later placed into concussion protocol. He will not return.
PJ Walker interception
The Panthers got a big break after their score.
Detroit center Frank Ragnow’s attempted shotgun snap to quarterback Matthew Stafford never really got off the ground. Stafford, who has a thumb injury, had trouble fielding it, and Panthers defensive lineman Marquis Haynes scooped the ball up at the Lions 22. It was the Lions’ second lost fumble all season.
But on third-and-goal, on the Panthers’ subsequent drive, Walker tried to hit DJ Moore in the left corner of the end zone. Detroit’s Amani Oruwariye jumped in front of the ball and intercepted in the end zone, giving his team a big boost.
Walker is now 7-of-10 for 108 yards and that interception.
MIKE DAVIS TD RUN: PANTHERS 7, LIONS 0
2:21 First Quarter: Carolina forced a rare punt and then ran off on a 95-yard drive to take an early lead on Davis’ rather easy 1-yard plunge up the middle.
The big play was a beautifully thrown ball from PJ Walker to DJ Moore. The 52-yard pass, which landed softly in Moore’s hands, in mid-stride, got the Panthers into the red zone.
The Panthers had the ball for 10 plays and Walker completed all four of his pass attempts during it.
Panthers forced a punt
This might not seem like big news, but for Carolina, it is.
The Panthers forced the Lions to punt on their first possession, and it was only the third punt by a Panthers opponent in the past five games.
The score is tied 0-0 early in the first quarter.
Who is Panthers quarterback PJ Walker?
Walker has seen the field twice this season, being the team’s only active backup quarterback in both of the games that Bridgewater has been injured in.
Against Atlanta in Week 8, he attempted one long pass intended for Robby Anderson running a go route but it fell incomplete. He finished the game 1-of-4 passing for 3 yards. Bridgewater (neck) re-entered the game on the drive following his injury.
Walker, 25, finished the game against the Buccaneers last Sunday after Bridgewater went out with his knee injury. He completed 2 of 4 passes for 12 yards and was sacked once. Both game appearances have come with scores largely out of hand or in difficult situations.
Walker chose to sign with the Panthers despite other options following a prolific stint in the XFL this past spring. He was on pace to become the league’s MVP, finishing five games with 267.6 passing yards per game, a 65% completion percentage, 15 touchdowns to four interceptions and 99 rushing yards.
He played quarterback at Temple for Panthers coach Matt Rhule.
Christian McCaffrey is not playing for the Panthers
All-Pro running back Christian McCaffrey will miss his second straight game. He injured the AC joint in his shoulder against the Chiefs and will miss today’s game against the Lions.
What channel is the Lions vs Panthers game on?
Sunday’s Detroit vs. Carolina game is on FOX. The game has the smallest broadcast footprint of any game in the 1 p.m. time slot with a coverage area that’s limited to the Carolinas, part of virginia, Michigan and Northern Ohio.
How to stream Panthers-Lions game
Today’s 1 p.m. kickoff between Panthers and Buccaneers at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte will be broadcast on FOX. You can stream the game on FoxSports.com by logging in through your cable or satellite provider. It’s also available on YouTube TV and Hulu + Live TV with a valid subscription.
If you are unable to view the game, we will provide live updates and video and photo highlights on this page.