There are heartbreakers and then there are HEARTBREAKERS. For the second time in three games, the Lions have lost to opponents kicking field goals of 50 yards plus with no time remaining.
Coach Dan Campbell wiped away tears as he stepped to the podium for his post-game presser on Sunday after Detroit lost 19-17 to the Vikings thanks to a 54-yard field goal with no time left.
Two weeks ago Detroit lost to the Ravens by the identical score after an NFL record-setting 66-yard field goal.
Credit goes to Campbell for finding a way to keep his bunch in the loss at Minnesota on Sunday.
“I do think in the long run this is going to pay dividends for us,’’ Campbell said. “As ugly as it is right now and hard to swallow, I do think we are building something special here that’s going to serve us well in the long term.’’
It wasn’t over until it was over. D’Andre Swift scored a touchdown on a 7-yard scamper to get within one point. Then Campbell made the bold call to go for the win instead of the tie. Jared Goff connected with KhaDarel Hodge for the 2-point conversion to give the Lions a 17-16 lead with 37 seconds left.
The Vikings had a pair of timeouts in their pocket and were able to get in field goal range, in part due to Kirk Cousins passes to Adam Thielen for 19 and 21 yards. Greg Joseph kicked the game-winning 54-yard field goal.
So close. Again.
“We’re going to be on the winning side of these before long, hopefully sooner than later,’’ Campbell said. “It’s coming. I don’t know when, but it’s coming when you play that way and fight that way. Clean up a couple of these mishaps that shot us in the foot, our days to be on the winning side of that are coming.’’
Five things to know about the loss:
1. Quarterback Jared Goff had two key turnovers. When he was sacked late in the first quarter and fumbled the ball with the Vikings recovering. Then he was intercepted by Eddie Kendricks early in the third quarter. This loss is not all on him, but he’s got to be better. The makeshift offensive line (missing Taylor Decker and Frank Ragnow due to injury) needs to protect him better too. Goff finished 21 of 35 for 203 yards.
2. Back to the offensive line. Remember when Penei Sewelll looked so good filling in for left tackle Taylor Decker in the first game or two? He’s playing like a rookie now, mostly good plays but big mistakes now and then that are costly. Decker was on the sideline giving him pointers. Sewell, who just turned 21 on Saturday, will learn and in the meantime he will see Everson Griffen in his nightmares.
3. Surprisingly the Vikings didn’t attempt a pass on every down. The Lions inexperienced secondary could not keep up. Vikings’ wide receiver Justin Jefferson had seven catches for 124 yards. Tracy Walker had a solid game and there were a few good plays sprinkled throughout but not enough. Still Campbell said he thought the defense played “lights out.” They held the Vikings to just one touchdown.
4. The Lions have a decent running game. If they were winning games, the speedy duo of D’Andre Swift and Jamaal Willams would be getting more credit. They combined for 108 rushing yards in the loss. Williams had 57 while Swift had 51 rushing yards and the lone touchdown.
5. Were there calls the coaches would like back? Sure. But Campbell explained they were tied to risk-reward. He’s learning this young bunch’s strengths and weaknesses and game-planning around that. He went for field goals on fourth down on Sunday instead of like the previous week when he tried to convert. A loss is a loss, but he’s not letting this team get blown out. And he refuses to let them hang their heads.
UP NEXT: Cincinnati Bengals (3-2) at Lions (0-5), 1 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 17. The Bengals lost, 25-22, to the Green Bay Packers in overtime on Sunday.
(Photo courtesy of Detroit Lions)