Skip to main content

O'HARA: What we learned from Week 16

If you want to blame someone besides Detroit Lions quarterback Tim Boyle for Sunday's rally-stopping interception in the loss to the Falcons, blame head coach Dan Campbell.

Campbell is taking a share of the blame for not calling a better play that would have given the quarterback a clearer look at the coverage he faced from the Falcons' defense.

That's what we learned from Campbell's press conference.

Among the other things we learned about Sunday's game includes the following: Campbell has set a record for most fourth-down attempts, and he doesn't intend to turn conservative; the Lions' run game is a staple in the offense and is set up to be an asset in the future.

We start with Campbell sharing the blame:

The Lions had first down at the Falcons' nine on their fateful -- and fatal -- final play. After the snap, Boyle tried to hit wide receiver Kalif Raymond with what would have been the go-ahead touchdown.

View photos from Detroit Lions vs. Atlanta Falcons Week 16 game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Sunday, Dec. 26 in Atlanta, GA.

Raymond was coming from Boyle's right to left, a yard deep in the end zone, when Boyle released the ball. Falcons linebacker Foyesade Oluokun was about two yards outside the end zone, directly in front of Raymond to make the interception and secure the win for the Falcons.

"I could have helped him (Boyle)," said Campbell, who took over calling offensive plays after the eighth game.

"When I go back and watch that tape, I should have helped him better with a good, solid, man zone read. Maybe start the back outside and bring him back in.

"I kick myself for that. Looking at it, just something to help him see it quicker and sooner."

Bringing a back in from right to left with motion could have given the quarterback information on how the Falcons planned to defend the play.

Campbell is not above sharing the blame for something that doesn't work. That could get a coach in trouble if there were no accountability for player errors. In Campbell's case, accountability and work ethic are pillars of what he represents.

We've learned that from watching his interactions with players and coaches all year. And media, for that matter.

Gambling Dan: The Lions converted three of four fourth-down attempts Sunday, in the process giving Campbell the record for most attempts in a season. Campbell has called for 36 and converted 18.

"When you feel like you have faith in your players, of the play or wherever the game's at -- if it feels right, I want to do it," Campbell said. "I still feel it's a calculated risk."

Campbell doesn't see himself turning conservative.

"I'd like to believe the aggressive nature will stay," he said. "That doesn't necessarily mean it will show up on fourth down all the time. That could show up on first and second down on some different things we do."

On the run: It didn't result in a victory, but the Lions gave another example of how the running game has been a staple of the offense.

They gained 130 yards on 33 carries, led by Jamaal Williams' 77 yards on 19 carries.

The Lions have had at least 100 yards rushing as a team in six of seven games since the bye, and in the last four.

They're averaging 112.8 yards per game for the season, their highest total since at least 2006.

Like defense, a running game travels. As the Lions move forward, they have three things in their favor to have a good running game -- quality depth at running back and the offensive line, and a commitment to run the ball.

Related Content