What It Means
When the Panthers lost to the 0-2 Saints in Week 3, the worry was palatable around the Carolinas. Two Sundays later, folks are likely feeling a whole lot better.
The Panthers followed up their upset at New England by winning, 27-24 in Detroit on Sunday. Carolina nearly blew a 27-10 lead but held on when quarterback Cam Newton connected with wideout Kelvin Benjamin for 17 yards on 3rd-and-nine with 2:30 to go.
With 3-1 the Falcons enjoying their bye this weekend, the 4-1 Panthers now lead the NFC South standings. It's their first time alone at the top since 2015.
Next up, Carolina will welcome Philadelphia for what should be a hyped-up nationally televised contest Thursday night. The Eagles improved to 4-1 Sunday with a 34-7 rout over the Cardinals.
—Wide receiver Devin Funchess was slow to get up after attempting to make a reception early in the third quarter. He jogged off and returned moments later.
—Cornerback Daryl Worley needed some help off the field after tweaking his right ankle midway through the third quarter. Worley returned after Kevon Seymour took care of a Lions 4-and-out series.
—Cornerback James Bradberry missed a few plays in the fourth quarter with some cramps in his left leg.
—Have a game, Ed Dickson.
These were the receiving yardage totals for Greg Olsen's backup's his first three seasons in Carolina:
- 2014 - 115
- 2015 - 121
- 2016 - 134
Then, in Sunday's first half, Dickson exploded for 152 yards, a total that included 64- and 57-yard gains, the first- and third-longest of his eight-year career. Dickson, who outgained the Lions (109 yards) by himself in the first half, finished with five receptions for 175 yards, the 10th-highest total in Panthers' history.
—After a sputtering start to his season, quarterback Cam Newton has looked like the 2015 version the past two weeks. But he didn't do this even in his MVP year. Newton has thrown for more than 300 yards in consecutive games (316 at NE, 355 at DET) for the first time since his first two games of his rookie season.
—The Panthers let the Lions back in the game because they couldn't run the ball. Carolina's 28 rushing yards are their fewest in a win since they gained just 11 against the Chargers on Dec. 17, 2000.
—Defensive tackle Vernon Butler was a surprise scratch. The 2016 first-round pick sat in favor of undrafted Bryan Cox Jr. With fellow defensive ends Julius Peppers and Addison a bit banged up and Charles Johnson still trying to regain strength after offseason back surgery, coaches wanted to start working Cox into the rotation to see what he could do.