DETROIT, MI - NOVEMBER 20: Matthew Stafford #9 of the Detroit Lions throws a first quarter pass while playing the Carolina Panthers at Ford Field on November 20, 2011 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Matthew Stafford threw Detroit into an early hole, but his five touchdowns helped the Lions get out of it against the Panthers.
The Detroit Lions faced a big hole, one that was largely Matthew Stafford's creation. But Stafford dug them out, with an assist from his defense, and the Lions won a 49-35 shootout over the Carolina Panthers in Detroit.
Stafford threw two early interceptions, but recovered to throw for 335 yards and five touchdowns. No Detroit receiver had more than seven catches, and all five touchdown passes went to different receivers, but Calvin Johnson, who led the Lions with 89 receiving yards, caught none of them.
Kevin Smith had one of those touchdown catches, and added 140 yards and two touchdowns on the ground.
Cam Newton's day was statistically significant (280 passing yards and a touchdown, and two rushing touchdowns), but his four interceptions prevented the Panthers from pulling out the win on the road.
Kealoha Pilares' 102-yard kickoff return in the first half helped Carolina build a 24-7 lead, but it evaporated midway through the third quarter in the midst of 21 straight second-half points by Detroit.
The win pushes Detroit to 7-3 on the season. Carolina falls to 2-8 with the loss.
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