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FOUR DOWNS: Campbell regrets not going for one more fourth down


Detroit Lions head coach Dan Campbell walked up to the podium after Sunday's 28-24 loss to Minnesota with some regret. He put the loss squarely on his shoulders.

The truth is Detroit had ample opportunities to win the game late, but Campbell's decision to try a 54-yard field goal in the final minutes instead of going for it on fourth down after they had been so successful all game on fourth down, will be the talk in Detroit this week.

"I frickin regret my decision there at the end. I should have gone for it on fourth down," Campbell said. "I told the team that."

Campbell said he had three different scenarios he was mulling over after the offense gained 10 yards down to the Minnesota 36-yard line on a 3rd and 14 play with 1:14 left in the game and the Lions leading 24-21. It set up a 4th and 4, and instead of going for it, which Campbell had done six times earlier in the game, converting on four, he instead opted to try a 54-yard field goal that Austin Seibert missed – his second miss of the game (48) – and gave Minnesota excellent field position to go win the game.

"Should have gone for it," Campbell said again later in his presser.

Seibert could have made the kick and the defense could have made a stop, and we wouldn't be talking about this. The offense could have iced it the possession before picking up a 4th and 1 that Campbell did opt to go for and didn't get. He said that didn't weigh into the final fourth-down decision.

Campbell is known for his aggressiveness and it was on display all game long, but at the end, he doubted himself and we could see it was eating at him after the game.


After the game, quarterback Jared Goff wished he'd been more vocal during the timeout before Campbell decided to try the field goal instead of putting the ball in Goff's hands and trying to end it with the offense on the field.

"I wish I would have gone over there and demanded to stay on the field," Goff said when asked after the game if he wished Campbell had put the ball in his hands on that late fourth down. "We all have our regrets in one way shape or form."

Goff certainly earned that right with the way he had played up to that point. He was very efficient moving the Lions down the field offensively and made some really big throws. He finished 25-of-41 passing for 277 yards with a touchdown and an interception, though the interception was a desperation heave in the final seconds with the Lions trailing by four.

Goff did a really nice job using his legs to avoid the rush and extend plays. Minnesota didn't record a single sack and had only two quarterback hits all day. Goff made some big-time throws on a couple fourth downs to keep drives alive. Overall, it was another solid game for him.

"I thought Goff played really well," Campbell said. "He was seeing it. He moved the offense, was efficient, made throws and was just really good."


Not going for it late on fourth down, the missed Seibert field goal and the blown coverage by the defense to allow Minnesota's game-winning touchdown in the final minute are all plays that will be scrutinized following the loss.

But as Goff said after the game, the offense had a lot of chances to put the game away much earlier than the final minutes, and didn't.

One play that was big in my book occurred earlier in the fourth quarter with a little under 11 minutes remaining and the Lions leading 24-14. Detroit faced a third and inches at their 27-yard line with a chance to keep a drive alive and eat more time off the clock if they gain a first down. Instead of running the ball, which Detroit's proven is a strength so far this season, they threw a go route down the right sideline to wide receiver Josh Reynolds that went incomplete.

Punter Jack Fox came on and hit just a 39-yard punt that gave Minnesota good field position at their 43-yard line. It would take the Vikings just six plays and less than three minutes to go the 57 yards needed to get into the end zone and cut the Lions lead to three. That was a big turning point in the contest.

For the game, Detroit was just 3-of-16 (18.8 percent) converting third downs.

View photos from the Detroit Lions vs. Minnesota Vikings Week 3 game at U.S. Bank Stadium on Sunday, Sept. 25 in Minneapolis, MN.


Campbell has proven in his short Lions tenure he's not afraid to gamble on fourth down.

The Lions led the NFL with 41 fourth-down attempts in their first season under Campbell in 2021, converting 21. Both marks were NFL records.

In the first half alone Sunday, the Lions went for three fourth downs and converted all of them. They went for a fourth early in the second half, converting that one too. Detroit scored 17 points on drives they converted a fourth down in the game.

The last attempt, 4th and 1 late in the fourth quarter with under four minutes to play at the Vikings' 30-yard line, could have gone a long way to helping Detroit ice the game, but running back Jamaal Williams was stuffed for no gain.

It's the one Campbell didn't try on Detroit's last offensive series of the game he lamented afterwards.

"I know there are some analytics to football, but I also know Dan is very apt to be like, 'Got to believe in our guys, so let's make a play," left tackle Taylor Decker said after the game. "We know coach believes in us to get the job done, we just didn't make enough plays to get the job done to seal it there at the end."

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