Last-second, record-breaking field goal a gut punch for winless Lions

Detroit Lions coach Dan Campbell

Jared Goff has been around, but he said Justin Tucker’s 66-yard field goal at the buzzer that gave the Baltimore Ravens a win over the Lions was the biggest gut punch he has ever been a part of. He wasn’t alone.

“I don’t know how to describe it — I didn’t think it would make it. I know he can reach it if you kick it low, but if you said they’re going to kick a 66-yarder to win the game you would take those odds,’’ coach Dan Campbell said. “But he made it , kudos to him. They put themselves in position to do it.”

The Lions had forged a second-half comeback topped by a 35-year field goal late in the fourth which gave them a 17-16 lead over Baltimore, but there was a minute and four seconds left and Lamar Jackson at quarterback.

On first and third downs, Jackson was sacked, losing a total of 9 yards. On second down, his pass to Devin Duvernay was incomplete.

Then on fourth-and-19 from Baltimore’s 16-yard line, Jackson connected deep left with Sammy Watkins for 36 yards.

“The call was fine, it’s just the way we played the call. Communication errors, I’ve said it before. It’s not an excuse, it’s a matter of how quickly you clean it up,’’ Campbell said. “But we do have growing pains and there’s things we have to continue to work out, work out the kinks, and grow from this and learn from this.’’

Of course the game was not without controversy. On the second-down play before the field goal, Jackson threw the ball away but it appeared there was no time left on the play clock and he could have been penalized for delay of game.

A Detroit pool reporter spoke with NFL referee Scott Novak who had not seen the play so did not have an answer on if the TV play clock is in sync with the game clock. 

“There’s nothing I can say to that because it’s the same thing, tomorrow you get an apology and it doesn’t mean anything. That’s life, that’s the hand we were dealt,’’ Campbell said. 

Goff said basically the same thing. He expects a Monday apology from the NFL and then will move on.

So with 3 seconds left, Tucker bounced the ball off the crossbar, straight up in the air and over for an NFL record and the Ravens’ win.

The Lions (0-3) are still looking for their first win under Campbell.

“There again you feel like you put yourself in position, even though we didn’t play perfect it’s (crushing). I also know the silver lining is we’re getting better. We really are and I was proud of the way they competed,’’ Campbell said afterward. “I felt we were going to find out a lot about this crew — our guys I’m talking about — coming out of this because I think Baltimore is a gritty tough team year-in, year out. If you’re not prepared to face them ….

“I thought we gave them all they could handle but they walked away the winner so we didn’t do enough,’’ the coach added.

The Lions’ offense struggled big-time early, going into the locker at the half down 10-0.

In the second half they rode the hot hand with running back D’Andre Swift who had six touches, 49 yards and a 2-yard touchdown scamper on the third-quarter drive that put the Lions on the scoreboard. They were down 13-7.

Then on the Lions’ drive to open the fourth, Jamaal Williams blasted his way into the end zone for a touchdown. First the officials ruled he was not in. But a Detroit challenge paid off, showing he was over the goal line. With the extra point the Lions were down 16-14. 

On the Ravens’ next possession Detroit’s Amani Oruwariye intercepted Jackson at Detroit’s 21. That set up the drive that ended in a field goal and 17-16 lead for the Lions.

“I am proud of the way we fought, we did fight our way back into this game. I don’t question that. I know we’ve got the right guys here, they’re made up of the right things,’’ Campbell said. “Look they were crushed, it hurts, but also know I’m pretty confident these guys are going to come back to work to clean it up and Wednesday they’ll be ready to go for the next one. And that’s all you can ask of your guys at this point is how do we eliminate these things and correct these things that are biting us in the rear.’’

Goff sounded optimistic about the character of the team too.

“It was our day until that last second. If that field goal is a foot shorter we’re saying, ‘Hell yeah, here we go.’ All I’m saying is that optimistic mindset ], that belief in each other, that belief that this is our day, that belief that we’re going to win, that belief this isn’t the same old thing every game. That belief will remain and needs to remain,’’ said Goff who finished 22 of 30 for 217 yards.

THIS AND THAT: Lamar Jackson, who had averaged 96 rushing yards in the first two games, was held to 58 rushing yards including one 31-yard scamper. … He was sacked four times — one each by Alex Anzalone, Romeo Okwara, Charles Harris and Austin Bryant. … The defense was without Trey Flowers who didn’t practice all week. … Will Harris led Detroit with six tackles. … D’Andre Swift topped the 100-yard mark for combined rushing (14 carries, 47 yards) and receptions (7 for 60 yards). … The Lions were just 30% on third-down efficiency and edged the Ravens 22-15 in first downs. 

UP NEXT: Lions (0-3) at Chicago Bears (1-2). The Browns beat Chicago, 26-6, on Sunday.

Author: Paula Pasche

Paula Pasche, a veteran sports writer, covers the Detroit Lions for her Lions Lowdown blog. She has written two books, "Game of My Life Detroit Lions" and "100 Things Lions Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die" which are available at bookstores and on Amazon.com. She won first place for column writing from the Society of Professional Journalists in Detroit (Class B) in 2011, 2012 and 2013 and was The Oakland Press 2010 Staffer of the Year.

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