With the Lions holding on to a slim 23-21 lead with less than 5:00 remaining, Lions head coach Dan Campbell made a key decision that could have come back to hurt the team's chances of winning.
On third-and-2, the Minnesota Vikings' defense stuffed Jamaal Williams on a run up the middle.
Campbell proceeded to decide upon a play-action rollout on fourth down and inches. Unfortunately, the Vikings' defense read the play perfectly, and forced the turnover.
“Yeah, it just didn’t work out. If we would had run a different play, maybe it would have worked, or if we would have had the look for it, maybe it would have worked. But, it didn’t work out, and again, I think if that would have killed us, you guys would be killing Dan Campbell right now and rightfully so," quarterback Jared Goff said. "But, again, the sign of a good team, a team that can overcome those types of mistakes by whoever, is the way that a lot of teams win in this league. And, most teams win in this league by overcoming mistakes.”
Following the victory, Campbell expressed he wanted to be aggressive and truly felt the team could convert on fourth down.
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When asked about his decision-making, Detroit's first-year head coach explained on Monday he actually regretted the play call that was dialed up on the play prior on third down.
"It's funny because when I go back to it, if I could have a play over in that game, it wouldn't have been the fourth-and-1. It would have been the third-and-2 right before it," he said. "That's the one I regret, because I wish that I had given a better play to Jamaal Williams there, and we wouldn't even have been sitting in a fourth-and-1."
Campbell added, "As far as the fourth-and-1, did I love it? No. However, we can be so much better on how we should have done that play. Just the little details to it. We would have have outflanked the defense. So, there again, just a couple of little things there procedurally in the way that we needed to function on that play, and it would have been there. So, it didn't work out. But, more than anything, I regret the third-and-2 call that put us into that."
Analytically, the decision to go for it on fourth down (56%) gave the Lions a five percent higher chance of winning than had Campbell decided to punt it away (51%).