The Detroit Lions nearly pulled off a stirring comeback in Week 1. In head coach Dan Campbell’s debut in Detroit, his Lions rallied from a 38-10 deficit early in the third quarter to having a late chance to tie the game before falling, 41-33.
In his postgame press conference, Campbell’s focus was on the early deficit. He was asked how the team fell behind so badly, so quickly.
“Look, it was two-fold. Offense, we go for it on fourth and we don’t get it,” Campbell responded. “I don’t—I’m not going to second guess that. I wanted to be aggressive, I wanted to try and find a way to get seven on the board instead of three. Defense goes out there, gets a stop. Turnover, first one out—we talk about turnovers. Well, now we have a chance to capitalize. We get in a second-and-long, we throw a screen. The timing’s not good, we get blasted. We lose yards, now we’re out of field goal range. We make it a longer field goal, we kick, we miss. And so now we’ve just squandered two opportunities on offense, when we could have capitalized on what the defense did for us.”
Campbell was just getting going on the woeful first half.
“And then on the flip side, the defense, we don’t get our first stop
until the third quarter. I mean really—we did get the turnover, but they scored on every possession after that. And so now, you feel like you’re trying to stay true to who you are offensively but now you get forced in kind of a world that you’re not in. We had tackles for losses in our run game, we’re not capitalizing on third down. I think we were 27 percent. It’s not good enough. And then two-for-five on fourth certainly isn’t good enough. So it was truly a team effort. It was truly a team effort and it just got out of hand early.”
The coach knew the game script got away from what he and his staff wanted.
“You throw the ball 57 times, that’s not our game man,” Campbell said dejectedly. “We’re not going to win a lot of those games. Now, we had a chance. We gave ourselves a chance, but we have to eliminate all the little stuff. There’s going to be so much stuff to clean up on that tape.”
Campbell knows that the comeback was nice and showed the grit and effort he demands of his players, but also that his team should never need to overcome a 28-point hole they helped dig for themselves, too.