FOUR DOWNS: Campbell: ‘I just wanted to finish with the ball in our hands’

Courtesy: detroitlions


Head coach of the Detroit Lions Dan Campbell recognized that Sunday’s game would likely go to the last team with the football.

Rather than kicking the game-winning field goal and giving the Lions the lead with less than two minutes remaining, with one minute and 47 seconds remaining on the clock and the Lions facing a 4th and 2 at the Los Angeles 26-yard line, Campbell trusted quarterback Jared Goff and the offense to win it.

Though it was a risk, it made sense.

There’s going to be a lot of time left going into that situation, Campbell remarked following the match. All I wanted was to get the ball into our hands and finish. Offensively, I enjoyed where we were. Goff was in a good place, and we were playing well. That seemed like the proper course of action to take.

I made the decision, and some people think it’s a stupid move, and I made it. And I remain true to that choice.

To start the game at the Chargers’ 20-yard line, Goff hit rookie tight end Sam LaPorta over the middle for a six-yard gain. Riley Patterson’s 41-yard field goal to seal the victory gave the Lions the opportunity to eat up the remaining time on the clock.

Up until then, Los Angeles had scored on five straight possessions, so Campbell had faith in his offensive to grab the first down and finish with the ball in their hands.

“I mean, I don’t know how many coaches are going to go for that in that situation,” Amon-Ra St. Brown, a wide receiver for the Lions, commentated following the game. “Hats off to him.”


What we witnessed on Sunday in Los Angeles was the plan that Campbell and the Lions had for their backfield when they drafted youngster Jahmyr Gibbs with the No. 12 overall pick in this year’s NFL Draft and acquired veteran David Montgomery in free agency.

The Lions gained 200 yards on the ground while averaging 6.5 yards per run thanks to the combined 193 yards and three touchdowns gained by Montgomery and Gibbs.

Halfway through his rookie season, Gibbs has truly settled in. After missing the previous two games due to a rib ailment, Montgomery returned, and he performed exactly as he had before.

Man, this is how the plan is coming together, Campbell remarked about his backfield. “Is those two back there, the two-headed monster.”

Montgomery averaged 9.7 yards per carry and had a touchdown run of 75 yards. Gibbs averaged 5.5 yards per carry and scored two touchdowns on one-yard rushes. Gibbs also gained 35 yards by catching three passes. They are diverse type runners with a wealth of knowledge. If Sunday is any guide, rival defenders are going to have their hands full going forward with this combination.


Goff claimed he should have realized it in the huddle, but he didn’t realize the Lions were using the incorrect personnel for the play until the huddle broke late in the second quarter, during a 1st and 10 play at the Lions’ 25-yard line.

“Every once in a while, it happens where we have the wrong personnel on the field for a certain play we had called, and we really can’t run with that personnel,” Goff stated.

The Lions broke the huddle with 11 players (one tight end and one back), instead of the intended 12 players (one back and two tight ends) in a pass play. Goff examined it to see if the personnel they were with could run a play. Montgomery’s 75-yard touchdown run sealed the deal, giving the Lions a 24-10 advantage at the time.

Once they broke the huddle, Goff and offensive coordinator Ben Johnson realized it was the improper play for the personnel. Goff claimed Johnson was urging him to check to the run over the headset. Montgomery succeeded in getting into the second level thanks to excellent blocking up front, and wide receivers Amon-Ra St. Brown and Jameson Williams each had two huge blocks that helped propel him into the end zone.

Just goes to highlight how effective this offense is. With the athletes they have on that side of the ball, even a wrong may become a huge right.


With 31 sacks this season, the Chargers were second in the NFL going into their game on Sunday. They boast Joey Bosa and Khalil Mack, one of the league’s best edge-rushing tandems. When it was all said and done Sunday and the Lions were departing Los Angeles winners for the seventh time this season, the Chargers’ defensive line had no sacks and only two hits in the books.

After the game, Goff was unable to recall ever being hit.

“That’s what we were talking about after the game,” Goff stated. They have two of the best players in the game Khalil Mack and Joey Bosa. Our two tackles are two of the best players in the game, as we often remark.

Goff was referring to left tackle Taylor Decker and right tackle Penei Sewell, of course. These two had a great game on Sunday, as did right guard Graham Glasgow, center Frank Ragnow, left guard Jonah Jackson, and right guard Frank Ragnow. They demonstrated why, when healthy, they are regarded as one of the top football teams by controlling the line of scrimmage throughout the whole game in both the run and pass games.

“I think this unit we have right now is going to start gelling pretty well and continue to keep going,” Goff stated.

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