ALLEN PARK >> It seemed a curious decision, when the Lions declined a holding penalty on the Dolphins during Detroit’s 32-21 win on Sunday.
The Twitterverse blew up, questioning what was going through coach Matt Patricia’s thought process.
In the second quarter, the Dolphins had a second-and-7 at their own 28 when quarterback Brock Osweiler attempted a pass to tight end Nick O’Leary that was incomplete. Miami’s Ja’Wuan James was called for offensive holding which would have given the Dolphins a second-and-17 from their 18.
Instead, Patricia declined the penalty. So the Dolphins had third-and-7 at their own 28.
Two plays later Dolphins running back Kenyan Drake broke through 54 yards for a touchdown, closing the gap and giving the Lions just a 6-point lead at 20-14.
The decision wasn’t a gut feeling by Patricia, it was based on statistics.
“Second-and-7 was probably right on the edge, probably third-and-8 is what you’re looking at from a statistical standpoint of declining a penalty in that situation and play third-and-8 instead of second-and-17. It’s right on the edge of it,’’ Patricia said at his Monday press conference.
“I thought we were in good field position, we had a good call, we were playing all right at that point as far as what they were doing. We just thought we wanted to stay in rhythm in the game, sometimes it’s about how the guys are playing at that moment,’’ the coach added.
Since the Dolphins scored on that drive it does not reflect well on the decision. If they had stuffed the run on third down and forced a punt, Patricia would have looked like a genius.
“It wasn’t a great decision by me,’’ Patricia said.
He had faith that his defense could stop Miami on third-and-7.
“Miami’s offense has some really big-play receivers and some big-play people out there. Some of those second-and-longer situations become, I don’t want to say more difficult to defend, but a little unpredictable as far as the space plays that they have dialed up,’’ Patricia said. “Third down we thought maybe we knew what they were going to do and could defend it.’’
It just didn’t work out that way.
That third-and-8 statistic could change team to team and week to week.
“There are certain markers you try to look at based on the team, based on where you’re playing, what you’re doing and what you feel the situation is right there,’’ Patricia said. “We’re probably right on the edge of it, in hindsight should’ve pushed them back.’’
Onward to preparing for the Seattle Seahawks (3-3) on Sunday at Ford Field. After winning two straight, the Lions are 3-3.