After a great 7 week stretch, the Detroit Lions came crashing down to Earth after getting beat down on the road by the Carolina Panthers. From the first play, the Panthers ran the ball at will all over the Lions' defense. Both Chuba Hubbard and D'Onta Foreman had over 100 yards in the FIRST HALF. The Lions' offense was ineffective most of the game as they could not keep pace. It was a horrible game all around, but let's see which Lions player should get the game ball.
Who are the Detroit Lions Week 16 Game Ball candidates?
Jared Goff did not have a very good game despite what the stats say, but in a game like this, having good stats will put you in contention for a game ball. Goff threw for 355 yards and 3 touchdowns with no interceptions on the day. It looks like a really good day if you just check the stats, but Goff contributed to the teams' struggles. Goff and Frank Ragnow fumbled a snap in the red zone on a crucial drive. Outside of that, Goff stared down receivers far too often leading to knocked-down passes, and he was not his best.
All three of Goff's touchdowns went into the hands of second-year tight end Shane Zylstra. Zylstra had the best game of his career by far as he had 5 catches for 26 yards and 3 touchdowns. The best receiving option of the tight ends did a great job getting open in the red zone and securing the catches. In a horrible game, Zylstra was the lone bright spot as he only had one touchdown catch before Saturday.
Amon-Ra St. Brown
Amon-Ra St. Brown was snubbed from a deserved Pro Bowl spot this week, but he proved that no matter what the circumstances, he is one of the most reliable receivers in the NFL. Once again, St. Brown moved the chains consistently and made some tough contested catches. He ended the day with 7 catches for 76 yards, but every single one of the yards was tough and meaningful. Even in a brutal loss, St. Brown proved the Lions have a star at receiver even if he isn't a Pro Bowler.
Winner: Shane Zylstra
Shane Zylstra wins the game ball, and no one else really came close. The former receiver has had an arduous path to the active roster. After going undrafted, he moved to tight end, bounced around the NFC North, and spent a year and a half on the practice squad. After the T.J. Hockenson trade, Zylstra snuck onto the active roster, and he has taken advantage of it. Despite limited experience as a tight end, he has improved as a run blocker, and today, he showed his skills catching the ball. Everything else may have stunk, but good for Zylstra, and hopefully, he can use this game as a building block for more.
All stats via ESPN