The fickle bounce of the ball has crowned winners and dashed hopes for as long as there has been competition for sports, and there is no sentiment involved for which way it bounces.
Unfortunately for the Detroit Lions, the ball bounced in the wrong direction for them to turn what looked like a franchise-lifting win into a 19-17 loss to the Baltimore Ravens.
The ball bounced right for the Ravens – and cruelly wrong for the Lions – on Justin Tucker's 66-yard field goal as time expired. The ball hit the cross bar, bounced high in the air, then cleared the bar to send the Ravens players and coaches in a wild celebration.
On the other side of the field, the Lions were in shock, as a game they appeared to have won with a spirited fourth-quarter rally turned into a spirit-numbing loss.
"About as big of a gut punch as I've ever been a part of," is how Lions quarterback Jared Goff described it.
This week's Monday Countdown looks at head coach Dan Campbell's message to his players and his view of the impact of the loss at least for the short-term.
There's also takeaways on the offense, defense and special teams, what's trending and the bottom line.
We start with Campbell's message:
1. Coach's view: Campbell was stunned by the loss, but he was analytical about what had transpired to turn a win into a loss.
"I don't know how to describe it," he said of his emotions. "I didn't think it (the ball) would make it. I know he could reach if you kick it low.
"If you said they were going to kick a 66-yarder to win the game, you'd take the odds.
"But they made it. They put themselves in position to do it, too. How do we get one more opportunity to take a swing at it? Because that's (the opportunity to kick the field goal) why. That's what happens."
Campbell saw some good things in the game. The defense sacked Ravens QB Lamar Jackson four times and never let him really dominate the game, and the offense came out of hibernation in the second half to give the Lions a 17-16 lead on Ryan Santoso's field goal with 1:04 left.
The bottom line, though, is that the Lions are 0-3.
2. Silver lining: Campbell and his staff have preached improvement, and he did not stray from that.
"I also know, the silver lining is, we're getting better," he said. "We really are. I thought we were going to find out a lot about this crew – our guys I'm talking about. Baltimore is a gritty, tough team year in and year out.
"If you're not prepared to face them, they'll bully on you and beat you. We gave them all they could handle. But they walked away the winner. We didn't do enough."
3. Bouncing back: The offense needed to do just that, and they did. Since kicking a field goal with three seconds left in the half in last week's loss to the Packers, the Lions had not scored a point until running back D’Andre Swift found the end zone with 5:21 left in the third quarter. That started the rally from the 13-0 deficit that ultimately led to the Lions taking a 17-16 lead.
Goff felt an awakening with how the Lions rallied against the Ravens. He thinks it has staying power. He spoke about the team's resilience.
"Going through something like this will remain," Goff said. "It was there. It was really there. Fans – the crowd – were into it. We were into it. We felt really good about it. We remain true, we remain resilient, and the gut punches will stop.
"So many guys in that locker room -- we had that game. There's no doubt about it. It was our day until that last second. If that field goal was shorter, was short ... we're saying, 'Here we go.'
"That's our mindset, that belief in each other, the belief that we're going to win.
"That belief that this isn't the same old thing every game. That belief will remain."
4. Takeaways, offense:
- Swift had his second game of the year with 100 yards from scrimmage: 42 rushing, 60 receiving for 102.
- Pass protection was generally good. Goff was sacked twice. Both were when the rusher came off his left when the rusher off the edge was unblocked.
- Tight end T.J. Hockenson had two catches on two targets for 10 yards. After 16 catches – eight in each of the first two games – teams are adjusting.
5. Takeaways, defense:
- After sacking Aaron Rodgers three times last week, the defense backed it up by sacking Jackson four times.
- Jackson had completions of 36, 37 and 41 yards to account for 114 of his 289 yards passing. The 36-yarder to Sammy Watkins was the killer. It came on a fourth and 19 and set up the game-winning field goal.
- Jalen Reeves-Maybin and rookie Derrick Barnes took advantage of more playing time at linebacker. Reeves-Maybin had three tackles, one for a loss, and a quarterback hit. Barnes had three solo tackles and an assist. Overall, the defense generally did a good job to keep Jackson from running wide.
6. Takeaways, special teams:
- The Ravens had the edge in the return game. For the Ravens, Devin Duvernay returned two punts for 42 yards – 29 and 13 yards. Kalif Raymond's only return for the Lions was 11 yards.
- Tucker is human. He missed his first field-goal attempt from 49 yards, then made four straight – including the 66-yard game winner that is the longest in NFL history.
- Up: Raymond – six catches for a team-high 68 yards.
- Down: Fourth and one. The Lions had false starts twice. Previously, they missed one on a run and one on a pass.
- Even: Swift and Jamaal Williams. They've been good from the start and stayed that way.
8. Bottom line: The Lions still have to learn how to win. That did everything but that in the fourth quarter Sunday. And they had the crowd roaring right until the end – until Tucker's 66-yard field goal hit the cross bar and landed over it.