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FOUR DOWNS: Campbell explains fourth-down decision


Trailing 13-7 with about nine minutes left in the fourth quarter, Detroit faced a 3rd and 2 at Cleveland's 26-yard line. Detroit ran D'Andre Swift off the right side, but he was tackled after a gain of just a yard, which set up a 4th and 1 at the 25.

Lions head coach Dan Campbell opted to kick a field goal in that situation, with the thought that his defense was playing so well he'd have another opportunity to score.

"I thought about (going for it)," Campbell said following Detroit's 13-10 loss in Cleveland Sunday. "But I told myself the night before, I said, 'Be smart. Hang in there. If we play this game the right way like last week (16-16 tie in Pittsburgh) we're going to have an opportunity to get it back. Play smart. Don't put ourselves in a bind.'

"I was close, but then I chose to kick the field goal. Felt good about our defense."

Detroit did get another opportunity to possess the football down 13-10 with about five minutes remaining, but only got as far as the Detroit 40 yard line before choosing to punt the ball away on 4th and 9 with two minutes and 36 seconds left. They'd never possess the ball again.

Campbell has been aggressive in these situations most of the year, but chose to take the points this time around. The Lions have gone for it 23 times on fourth down this year, the most in the NFL. They've converted 10 times.


For the first time since Kevin Jones in 2004, the Lions have a 100-yard rusher in back-to-back games.

After rushing for 130 yards on 33 carries last week in Pittsburgh, Swift went for 136 yards on just 14 carries against the No. 5 rushing defense in the league in Cleveland Sunday, including a 57-yard touchdown run in the third quarter.

Still, Swift was searching for ways he could be better after the game.

"I feel like I'm not doing enough," he said. "We're not winning. I have to continue to get better. Look at the film and see where I could have scored again, did something else or got a few more yards. It wasn't enough."

You have to love Swift's passion, but he's certainly not Detroit's problem offensively.

He only had four rushes for 11 yards in the first half, which was curiously low production given the performance he was coming off of. Detroit only ran 24 plays in the first half, so to get their running back in better rhythm and more involved earlier in the game, the offense has to be better overall around him.

The Lions fed Swift more in the second half and they were rewarded for it. Right now he's their top offensive weapon.

"This kid is pretty dynamic," Campbell said of Swift. "I think more than anything it's about the load he takes. How many plays can he play a game and what kind of plays are those?

"We have to be mindful, but at the same time we're trying to win a game. He gives us the best opportunity to win we have to find ways to get him the football."


The Lions were on the road in adverse weather conditions, starting a backup quarterback and playing good defense.

It was all of those factors that led to Campbell's decision with just over three minutes left in the game, trailing 13-10, to call a draw play to Swift on 3rd and 14, instead of trying to throw for the first down with Tim Boyle.

Campbell said after the game he made that call to not put Boyle under duress against a good defense. Boyle had just 77 passing yards up to that point.

When Swift gained only five yards on the third-down run, Campbell didn't hesitate to punt the football away on the subsequent 4th and 9 play.

"I just wanted to be smart with what we were doing," Campbell said. "When your defense is playing like that and you want to be mindful of making sure you're being smart with your quarterback, but yet still having a chance to win. I just felt it was the right thing to do. I thought we'd get that ball back."

Detroit didn't. The Browns were able to pick up three first downs and run out the clock.

View photos from Detroit Lions vs. Cleveland Browns Week 11 game at First Energy Stadium on Sunday, Nov. 21 in Cleveland, OH.


Fans watching the game at home were probably a little surprised to see the television broadcast of the game come back from commercial between the third and fourth quarters to see the officials huddled up and a flag laying on the field.

Between the quarters, Lions guard Jonah Jackson was flagged for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.

"It was something about someone's mother," Campbell said of the explanation he got from the officials. "There was a lot of talking going on out there, but it was a penalty."

The Lions had just gained 13 yards on a Swift run down to the Cleveland 42-yard line before the penalty. They really had some momentum down 13-7 at the time. The penalty pushed them back to their 43-yard line and set up a 1st and 25. Detroit would fail to pick up the first down in three plays and punted it away to Cleveland.

"I should have never even put my team in that situation," Jackson said afterwards. "But it was the heat of the moment, heat of the game, we actually chopped it up after and apologized, but definitely should have never been in that situation to begin with."

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