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Detroit — In a battle of two of the NFC’s best, the Panthers came into town and appeared on the verge of delivering a beatdown on Sunday.

That was until the Lions staged a fourth-quarter comeback that ultimately fell short in the final minutes.

Here’s a quick recap of the Lions’ 27-24 loss at Ford Field:

Player of the game

The Lions’ defense had absolutely no answer for Panthers quarterback Cam Newton, who put on a show and turned in his best performance of the season on 26-for-33 passing for 355 yards and three touchdowns. He picked apart the defense all day long with his arm and had a pair of perfect throws on a 10-yard touchdown pass to Devin Funchess in the back of the end zone late in the second quarter and a 31-yarder to Kelvin Benjamin down the left sideline in the third quarter to make it a two-score game. Newton also sealed the game with a 17-yard pass to Benjamin on a third-and-9 in the final two minutes.

Turning point

Late in the second quarter, the Panthers faced a third-and-7 at Detroit’s 43 and Newton hit receiver Devin Funchess (Michigan/Farmington Hills Harrison) over the middle of the field. Jarrad Davis and Quandre Diggs both came in to deliver a hit short of the sticks, but Funchess muscled his way through the tackles for a 9-yard gain to extend the drive. Five plays later, the Panthers cashed in on a 10-yard score from Funchess to seize the momentum heading into halftime and take a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.

Stat of the game

Panthers tight end Ed Dickson had 115, 121 and 134 yards receiving over the past three seasons. He surpassed each of those totals against the Lions with five catches for 175 yards, highlighted by a 64-yard catch and run on Carolina’s first drive where he shed multiple tackles and a 57-yarder on a well-designed run fake on a third-and-1.

Stock report

Up: Darren Fells. For the second straight week, the backup tight end was a factor in the passing game and hauled in two touchdown catches of four and 20 yards in the fourth quarter.

Down: Eric Ebron. Where do the Lions go from here with Ebron? He dropped a touchdown pass on the opening drive and a fourth-quarter pass deep over the middle, both of which drew a loud chorus of boos. He finished the game with one catch for six yards.

Burning question

Where did the Lions’ offense go much of the game? After scoring on two of their drive three drives, they seemingly couldn’t get anything going and mustered just eight yards over their next three drives before halftime. Then in the second half, Detroit turned the ball over on two of its first three drives. A banged-up Matthew Stafford helped engineer a late comeback, but there’s plenty of blame to go around as receivers dropped passes and the offensive line gave up six sacks.

jhawkins@detroitnews.com

twitter.com/jamesbhawkins

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