DETROIT (AP) — Jared Goff threw three touchdown passes in the first half and ran for a score in the fourth quarter, lifting the Detroit Lions to a 42-24 victory over the winless Carolina Panthers on Sunday.
The NFC North-leading Lions (4-1) are alone atop the division in October or later for the first time since 2016.
The Panthers (0-5) turned the ball over three times in the first half — two coming on consecutive snaps — to set up Detroit up for three touchdowns and a 28-10 halftime lead.
Carolina rookie quarterback Bryce Young was picked off twice in the first half and Miles Sanders lost a fumble.
Young, the No. 1 overall pick, was 25 of 41 for 247 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions. He entered the game with two touchdowns, two interceptions and two fumbles lost in three starts.
Goff, meanwhile, made many more plays than mistakes. He was 20 of 28 for 236 yards, and his 1-yard sneak early in the fourth put Detroit ahead 35-10.
David Montgomery, with 109 yards rushing, became the first Lion to run for 100-plus yards and score in two straight games since Kevin Jones in 2004. Sam LaPorta caught two TDs in the first half.
Detroit’s Aidan Hutchinson used his right hand to snag Young’s short pass in the first quarter and became the first NFL defensive lineman to have four interceptions in his first two seasons.
The Panthers bounced back from a 14-0 deficit when Young threw a 1-yard TD pass to Tommy Tremble. Carolina stopped Detroit on fourth down on the ensuing possession.
Turnovers stopped any potential momentum for the Panthers.
On the play immediately after the fourth-down stop, Sanders fumbled, setting Goff up for a 1-yard touchdown pass to Josh Reynolds. Young then threw an interception on the first snap of the next possession. The Lions, as if they were toying with Carolina, called a reverse flea-flicker on the following play and Goff found LaPorta wide open for a 31-yard touchdown to go ahead 28-7.
Panthers: Rookie OG Chandler Zavala was alert and able to move all extremities at a hospital after being carted off the field with a neck injury late in the first quarter. … Starting DBs Xavier Woods (hamstring) and Donte Jackson (shoulder) were inactive.
Lions: CB Emmanuel Moseley (knee) left the game in the first quarter in his Detroit debut, which was delayed by injuries. … RB Zonovan Knight (shoulder) was hurt in the third quarter. … Three key players were inactive: WR Amon-Ra St. Brown (abdomen), rookie RB Jahmyr Gibbs (hamstring) and DB Brian Branch (ankle).
Panthers: At Miami next Sunday.
Lions: At Tampa Bay next Sunday. The game was moved to a late-afternoon start to take advantage of Detroit’s surging popularity.