CHARLOTTE - The Panthers came into the game without their starting quarterback, and with plenty of questions on defense.
Naturally, their backup pitched it around, and they pitched a shutout.
The Panthers snapped a five-game losing streak with a 20-0 win over the Detroit Lions.
Teddy Bridgewater was inactive after last week's right knee injury (he must have been close because he worked out twice in pregame warmups, under the watchful eye of most of the coaching and athletic training staff with general manager Marty Hurney and owner David Tepper). And even though replacement P.J. Walker had some hiccups, he was more than capable.
Things looked promising early for Walker, and he was far from perfect, but more than enough. He completed six of his first eight passes for 102 yards and a touchdown. Included in that was a pretty 52-yard completion to DJ Moore.
It didn't stay that way, as Walker finished the first half completing eight of his next 14 for just 52 yards and an interception. A number of the incompletions were of the mysterious sort, high or wide or of unclear intended destination.
In the second half, he started with a couple of nice completions before his 17-yard touchdown to Curtis Samuel, and found a rhythm.
Walker completed his first 10 passes of the half before a fourth-quarter interception.
He finished the game 24-of-34 for 258 passing yards and one touchdown with two interceptions.
He'd need to be better against better competition, but it was not bad at all, considering the uncertainty of the week and the fact it was his first NFL start.
After giving up 46 points a week ago to the Buccaneers, the Panthers' defense got the result it needed. By keeping the Lions off the board, they registered their first shutout since Dec. 13, 2015, when they beat the Falcons, 38-0.
They forced the Lions to punt four times in the first half alone. The Panthers had forced just two opponent punts in the previous four games combined.
While Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford is dealing with a thumb injury, and was without leading receiver Kenny Golladay and running back D'Andre Swift, it wasn't all their fault.
Regardless the opponent, the Panthers played well, limiting the Lions to 3-of-14 on third downs after entering the game last in the league in that category.
BURNS CATCHES FIRE
Last week, defensive coordinator Phil Snow said defensive end Brian Burns was on the verge of a three-sack game. He didn't miss by much.
Burns was in on three of the Panthers' five sacks, officially registering 2.0 sacks.
The Panthers entered the game without a pair of starting offensive linemen, with left tackle Russell Okung and right guard John Miller inactive because of injuries. Miller's replacement, Dennis Daley, joined that list in the second quarter.
Daley left the game and was being evaluated for a concussion, and didn't return. He was replaced in the lineup by Michael Schofield.