The Detroit Lions were without a dynamic offensive rookie and perhaps their greatest player.
There was no lag time in Detroit.
The Lions defeated the winless Carolina Panthers 42-24 on Sunday thanks to Jared Goff’s three touchdown throws in the first half and another score on the ground in the fourth.
Despite losing running back Jahmyr Gibbs and receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown, Detroit set a team record by scoring at least 20 points in 14 straight games and became the first team in franchise history to do so.
“These guys who have been asked to step up are making plays,” Lions coach Dan Campbell said. “We’re not getting any drop-off.”
For the first time since 2016, the NFC North-leading Lions (4-1) are alone at the top of the division in October or later. They have also won 12 of their previous 15 games going back 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.
Three turnovers by the Panthers (0-5) in the first half, including two on consecutive possessions, allowed Detroit to score three touchdowns and lead 28-10 at the break.
“We knew they have an explosive offense, but we made the game much too easy for them,” Carolina coach Frank Reich said.
Bryce Young, the rookie quarterback for Carolina, was intercepted twice in the first half, and Miles Sanders fumbled the ball away.
The first overall pick, Young, completed 25 of 41 passes for 247 yards, three touchdowns, and two interceptions. The former Alabama standout had three starts prior to the game and had two touchdowns, two interceptions, and two lost fumbles.
“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 completed 20 of 28 passes for 236 yards, and his 1-yard sneak to start the fourth quarter gave Detroit a 35-10 lead.
“Love where his confidence is at,” Campbell said. “He was on fire.”
David Montgomery, who rushed for 109 yards, became the first Lion since Kevin Jones in 2004 to dash for 100 yards or more and score twice in a row. In the first half, rookie tight end Sam LaPorta caught two touchdown passes.
Aidan Hutchinson of Detroit intercepted Young’s short ball in the first quarter with his right hand, becoming the first defensive lineman in NFL history to have four interceptions in his first two seasons.
When Tommy Tremble was the recipient of a 1-yard touchdown pass from Young, the Panthers overcame a 14-0 hole. On the subsequent possession, Carolina stopped Detroit on a fourth-and-goal attempt.
Any potential momentum was interrupted by turnovers.
Late in the first half, the Lions called a reverse flea-flicker as if to mock Carolina, and Goff connected with LaPorta for a touchdown while he was wide open for a gain of 31 yards and a score of 28-7.