The Lions were aggressive about going for it on fourth down for most of Sunday’s game against the Vikings, but head coach Dan Campbell opted for a different course of action late in the fourth quarter.
Detroit faced a fourth-and-four from the Vikings’ 36-yard-line with 1:14 left in a game they were leading 24-21 and Campbell chose to try a 54-yard field goal rather than go for a first down that would have made it almost impossible for Minnesota to come back. Austin Seibert missed the kick and the Vikings drove 56 yards in three plays for a 28-24 win.
The Lions had been 4-of-6 on fourth down conversions and Campbell opened his postgame press conference by saying he made the wrong call.
“I freakin’ regret my decision there at the end,” Campbell said, via Colton Pouncy of TheAthletic.com. “I should have gone for it on fourth down. I told the team that we should’ve gone for it. . . . I just hate the decision. I wish I would’ve put it back in their hands offensively and so be it. I just wish I would’ve done that.”
Even if Seibert had made the kick, the Lions would have been up six points and the Vikings would have won the game with a touchdown. The Lions could have also opted to punt or take a delay of game and then punt if they didn’t have a fourth down play they loved in that spot.
There was a lot of talk about the Lions being close in the aftermath of Sunday’s loss and the first three weeks of the season have provided plenty of evidence of that. Taking the next step will require better execution, planning, and in-game decision making across the board.