Late coaching decisions haunt Detroit Lions in stunning loss to Ravens
DETROIT – The Lions fell victim to another blatant mistake in office, then a ball ricochet for the ages. Both were bad beats that resulted in an impressive 19:17 loss to the Baltimore Ravens at Ford Field on Sunday.
But before the Lions could fall victim to Justin Tucker’s golden right leg, they injured themselves with a series of decisions in the fourth quarter that backfired.
Still one point behind near the end of the game, quarterback Jared Goff beat Caliph Raymond with passes of 19 and 22 yards to move Detroit onto Baltimore’s 36-yard line after the 2-minute warning. But instead of staying aggressive and playing for the touchdown, head coach Dan Campbell and offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn immediately switched to a more conservative approach to extend Baltimore’s final time outs.
The Lions picked three straight runs that lost a total of 3 yards, which protected the football and burned the rest of Baltimore’s timeouts, as well as a 35-yard green field goal from Ryan Santoso. But the downside of this approach is that Detroit was only a point ahead at 17-16, while one of the league’s best kickers was on the other sidelines.
“We did our best runs,” said Goff. “We wanted them to take advantage of their time off and put them in a situation that we had late. In retrospect, of course (I would have liked to have been more aggressive), but we did what we wanted. “
The Lions were in an even better position for victory after their four-man onslaught caused two sacks on the following trip, with both Romeo Okwara and Charles Harris coming home. That put Baltimore in a fourth and 19 position from its own 16 yard line and only 26 seconds on the clock. One stop and it would be game over.
But then Detroit decided to call time out to build up its defenses, which gave Baltimore – which had no time outs – the time it needed to gather its thoughts and move on to a better game.
“(John Harbaugh) went to another game and that helped us get that field goal drive going,” said Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson. “I was happy about this break because we needed a little break. Our linemen needed a little break. “
Detroit, meanwhile, came off time out and decided to end its pass rush. The four-man attack came home, but the Lions didn’t want to be hit deeply and instead switched to a three-man onslaught, with mid-level spies for the mobile quarterback and anyone else falling into preventive coverage.
But there was a wrong assignment in the game, and Baltimore recipient Sammy Watkins stood behind Lions Security Will Harris for a 36-yard wide open catch. Campbell blamed a communication error for this game, so it’s possible Harris thought he had help that wasn’t there.
“I think the call was okay,” said Campbell. “It was just the way we played the call. We – communication failure. See, I’ve said it before. It’s not an excuse, it’s about how quickly you can clean it up. But we have growing pains. There are things that we have to work on and work out the kinks and grow from them and learn from them. This is really the first time that some of these guys have been through this situation that was out there. “
Either way, the conservative approach backfired. Baltimore now had Lions Territory soccer with 7 seconds on the clock. One blown call and crossbar ricochet later, and Detroit had suffered the most staggering loss in the NFL that season.