Dan Campbell has stern take on his controversial 4th-down calls

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Larry Brown Sports

Detroit Lions head coach Dan Campbell on Sunday addressed the polarizing decisions he made late in his team’s 34-31 loss to the San Francisco 49ers.

The Lions failed to convert on 4th-and-short instead of kicking a field goal twice in the second half in an NFC Championship Game they eventually lost by three.

Campbell had no regrets about the calls during his postgame press conference. The Lions coach wanted his team to be the ones controlling the tempo of the game and believed staying aggressive was going to help them do that.

“It’s easy, hindsight, and I get it,” admitted Campbell. “I get that, but I don’t regret those decisions. And that’s hard. It’s hard because We didn’t come through. It wasn’t able to work out. But I don’t. And I understand the scrutiny I’ll get, and that’s part of the gig, man.”

The Lions quieted the capacity crowd at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif. throughout the first 30 minutes of action. Detroit held a commanding 24-7 lead at the break and looked well on their way to winning the NFC Championship.

One Lions player even foolishly waved goodbye to the fans in anticipation of a victory.

But after the 49ers stormed back to win the contest, the Lions’ two failed fourth-down conversions loomed large over the final result.

The ever-aggressive Campbell had the Lions go for it on 4th-and-2 midway through the third quarter. Instead of converting on a 45-yard field goal to extend Detroit’s lead to 27-10, wide receiver Josh Reynolds dropped a short pass from quarterback Jared Goff that would have given their team a first down (video here).

Campbell doubled down with the Lions facing 4th-and-3 with 7:38 left in the fourth quarter. Instead of going for a 47-yard field goal to try to tie the game at 27, Detroit once again turned it over on downs. The 49ers scored a touchdown to go up 34-21 on the ensuing possession and held on for the win.

The Lions still got much farther than most fans probably imagined before the season began. But being right on the precipice of the team’s first Super Bowl appearance and falling flat still hurts all the same.

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