CHARLOTTE, NC (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) — The Panthers defeated the Detroit Lions 20-0 on Sunday at Bank of America Stadium and snapped a 5-game losing streak.
PJ Walker, who was signed this off-season out of the XFL, started the game in place of Teddy Bridgewater, who suffered a knee injury in last week’s loss to Tampa Bay and was ruled out prior to kickoff. Pro Bowler Christian McCaffrey was also ruled out for the second straight week due to a nagging shoulder injury.
Walker connected with Curtis Samuel to start the second half on a 17-yard touchdown pass to take a 14-0 lead.
Kicker Joey Slye would add a pair of field goals in the second half.
Walker made his presence felt midway through the first quarter with a 52-yard pass to DJ Moore, putting Carolina in position to strike first. Mike Davis would punch it in on 3rd and goal for the 7-0 lead with 2:21 to play.
The Panthers (4-7) would then recover a fumble in their own territory to end the first quarter but would return the favor as Walker threw an interception, his first of two, in the end zone to start the second quarter.
Walker looked good in his debut as an NFL starting quarterback and finished the game with 258 yards on 24-of-34 passing, one touchdown, and two interceptions that occurred in the end zone.
Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford, who was also questionable to start with an injured finger, went 18-for-33 with 178 yards for Detroit (4-6). Lions RB Adrian Peterson, a shell of his former self, had 18 yards on 7 carries.
The Panthers defense, led by Brian Burns, kept Stafford under pressure for the majority of the game. Burns finished with 5 tackles, 2 solo, and 4 sacks on Stafford.
Lions head coach Matt Patricia continues to be on the hot seat. He joins a growing list of Bill Belichick disciples including Josh McDaniels, Charlie Weiss, and Bill O’Brien, who have not had success translating from assistant coach to the head coach role.
This was Carolina’s first shut since their 2015 Super Bowl run when they blanked the Atlanta Falcons, 38-0.
A nice moment occurred prior to kickoff when Ronnie Long, recently released from prison after being wrongfully convicted of rape, pounded the drum on the field. He was incarcerated for 44 years.
The Panthers return to action against Bridgewater’s former team, the Minnesota Vikings, next Sunday (1 pm, Fox 46). Bridgewater suffered a devastating left knee injury while in Minnesota and his career was thought to be in jeopardy.