The final ride of the Lions’ Thanksgiving 16-14 loss to the Bears left a lot to be desired for Detroit fans. Chicago held the ball for the last 8:30 of the game and kicked a game-winning field goal as time went on to drop the Lions at 0-10-1 on the season.
The Detroit defense had chances to get off the field, which the team desperately needed, as Chicago (4-7) was bleeding the clock. The unit had one big chance but was unable to capitalize due to a critical error.
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The Bears were in field goal range with 1:54 left, facing a third and nine. The Lions would almost certainly get the ball back if they stopped the Bears on that game.
But the third-and-9 snap never came. The Lions attempted to time out the game, and their wish was granted. There was only one problem. They had called atimeout moments earlier. NFL teams may not call back-to-back timeouts.
As a result, the Lions were penalized for game delay. That gave the Bears 5 yards and made it a third-and-4. Chicago converted via a 7-yard pass from Andy Dalton to Damiere Byrd. It was then able to set the clock back to one second before the winning field goal.
Lions coach Dan Campbell told reporters after the game that the penalty was the result of a “miscommunication” on the pitch.
‘Of course you can’t’Campbell said he mentioned consecutive timeouts?. “But we had a miscommunication. Half of our secondary had one call, the other half had another, so yeah, timed out.”
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What led to the miscommunication? As Campbell explained, the defense had a check baked into the play-call. The idea was to see how the bears would behave and adapt accordingly. But part of the defense missed the call, so Campbell knew the unit was in trouble.
“The first thing that pops into my head is, ‘Well, we’ve got bad coverage and they’re about to score a touchdown,’ Campbell said. ‘So I’m doing it, which you can’t do, and now it’s it’s a penalty.”
Campbell wasn’t happy with the mistake, but he claimed it was better than the alternative: “stand there and watch them score a touchdown.”
“I knew [if Dalton] threw it in the flat, it was about to become a touchdown,” Campbell said.
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It was a tough spot for Campbell, but the Lions would have gotten the ball back had they allowed a touchdown. That would at least have given them a chance to mount a potential game-winning drive.
Then again, Detroit’s offense only had 239 total yards during the game, so maybe it was the right move to give the defense one last chance to get the Bears off the field.
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