Often the hero for Carolina, Panthers quarterback Cam Newton misfired on a two-point conversion allowing the Detroit Lions to hold on for a 20-19 win on Sunday at Ford Field.
“I’ve got to make the play. I’ve got to make that play,” a despondent Newton said during the postgame news conference.
Coach Ron Rivera elected to go for the win; kicker Graham Gano had already missed an extra-point and a field-goal attempt.
Newton dropped back, had an open receiver in the end zone but sailed a pass wide of Jarius Wright that would have out the Panthers up 21-20 with a little more than a minute to go in the game.
“They ain’t getting this (bleep), plain and simple,” cornerback Darius Slay told mlive.com.
Newton shouldered the blame and even thanked Rivera for going for the win.
“I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way,” Newton told reporters after the game. “He trusted in me, and I’ve got to uphold my end of the bargain. I didn’t do that. I let this team down, and I’ve just got to be better.”
The decision to go for two surprised many.
“They went for two? That’s beyond me,” Marvin Jones Jr., the injured Lions receiver said incredulously.
Newton had just driven the Panthers 75 yards in six plays late in the fourth, finding rookie DJ Moore in the back of the end zone to give Carolina a chance to either tie or win the game.
“I was going for the win. That’s just the bottom line,” Rivera said.
Detroit weathered a three-touchdown performance by Newton to move to 5-6. The Panthers fell to 6-5.
Quarterback Matthew Stafford was an unspectacular 23 of 37 for 220 yards and one touchdown. He didn’t throw an interception and didn’t have Jones available either.
But Kenny Golladay came through with eight receptions for 113 yards and hauling in the winning touchdown with 5:13 left in the game.
The Lions also lost standout rookie running back Kerryon Johnson with a knee injury in the third period. Before leaving the game, Johnson rushed for 87 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries.
Rivera explained why he felt the need to go for the win and not take the game into overtime.
“I think you go for two on the road to win the game — that’s what I did end of the day,” Rivera said. “What’s to say the coin toss is going to in our favor or (what’s to say) we’re going to stop them?”
Detroit head coach Matt Patricia admitted the Lions probably dodged a bullet.
“We knew it was going to be potential for a bang-bang play, like the ball coming out quick,” Patricia told mlive. “And when it didn’t come out quick, in general, it’s usually not good for anybody against Cam Newton. So, just fortunate that we were able to kind of get out of that situation.”
The Lions will take it especially heading into a short week with a Thanksgiving Day game against the Bears.