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CHARLOTTE, NC – Matt Patricia has a simple philosophy when it comes to being on the coaching hot seat.

“I go to work every day to try to earn my job,” he said.

After Sunday’s 20-0 defeat to the Carolina Panthers, it is reasonable to ask whether Patricia has earned the right to be hired.

The Lions played their worst all-round game in the Patricia era on Sunday, losing to a Panthers team that started an XFL refugee at quarterback and a total of a modest 185 yards offense – their lowest total since Week 1 of the 2010 season, the “catch process” game, as Matthew Stafford injured his shoulder in the first half – against a defense that placed itself in the bottom third of the NFL by almost any measure.

[ Lions grades: Most F’s we’ve handed out this season in loss to Panthers ]

Losers of three of their last four games, the Lions, who were shut out for the first time since October 18, 2009, are mathematically alive for the post-season with a 4-6 record, but realistically heading for an offseason of change.

Patricia is 13-28-1 as head coach and the Lions have lost four games by two figures this season.

They host the Houston Texans in their annual Thanksgiving game on Thursday, and whether ownership decides to make a change after this game, heading into a long week or after the season, it looks like Patricia’s days are numbered as head coach.

“I think again for us, we just focus one week at a time and all that,” Patricia said. “I have had a philosophy for a long time, I go to work every day to try to earn my job. I mean, that’s just what I do. It does not matter if it is coaching, engineering, I do not care if I am in school. So look, I just have to go to work and work hard. We all know that. We know we’re in the NFL, and that’s what it’s. We must do better. ”

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YOUR TRIP: Judge the Lions’ performance in losses to the Panthers

The Lions will have to play much better in all three stages than they did on Sunday, otherwise they risk losing the season.

Against a Panthers defense that came in this week, ranked 22nd in total defense, 23rd in scoring defense and last in the league in sack percentage and third down defense, the Lions had 89 yards offensive and four first downs in the first half, 40 yards rushed to the game and did not drive a bit inside the Carolina 25-yard line all day.

“We just did not do it,” Stafford said. “They had to play three-down, drop-eight covers and fire zones until we got them out of it, and we never did. Saw kudos to them for playing well, and of course we did not play well enough. ”

Stafford, who played with an injured thumb on his throwing hand – “As far as I threw the ball, I felt pretty good,” he said – finishing 18 of 33, passing in 178 yards, was fired five times and was played by surprise Panthers starter PJ Walker.

Walker, who played for the Houston Roughnecks in the XFL last winter before the league closed down, learned 90 minutes before kickoff that he would start his first career instead of an injured Teddy Bridgewater.

He completed 24 of 34 passes for 258 yards and a touchdown as the Panthers (4-7) snatched a lost streak in five games.

“We need to play better,” said Lions cornerback Amani Oruwariye. “We know we can. We’ve played better games than that, far better, all three stages, and we have to go out there and just take it personally and just put in more effort and just do all the little things right, do your job. ”

Mike Davis accounted for the only goal of the first half, covering a 10-play, 95-yard drive with a 1-yard touchdown run on Carolina’s second offensive possession.

Walker, who was caught twice in the final zone, threw his first career touchdown pass to Curtis Samuel early in the third quarter, and the Panthers added field goals on two of their next three possessions to put the game away.

The Lions, who played without running back D’Andre Swift and receivers Kenny Golladay and Danny Amendola due to injuries, had a legitimate scoring opportunity as they drove to the Carolina 25-yard line, down 17-0, late in the third quarter.

Stafford was stopped without a win on a zone reader at the next game, threw incompletely in second place down, was fired for an 8-yard loss on third down and Matt Prater missed a 51-yard field goal.

Stafford said after the game that Sunday’s performance “does not define us as an offense or us a team,” and he insisted that the players “absolutely” still react to Patricia as a coach.

“We have enough talent to win,” he said. “We just have to go out there and do it. We have to get out there and play better than we play. I do not care who you are as a coach. If we do not go out there and play well, it does not matter. We have to get out there and play better. “

Contact Dave Birkett at Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.