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For a while there the Detroit Lions were being, well, the Detroit Lions. And they were doing Lions things like throwing an interception and losing one of their two fumbles.
And for a while there rookie head coach Dan Campbell was not helping matters.
Campbell blew two timeouts before the four minute mark in a 2-point game. And he went for it on a fourth-and-1 from his own 28 yard line with four minutes to play…
…When he was freaking leading 23-21 at the time!
The result of that decision, by the way, was quarterback Jared Goff was sacked and fumbled. And the Vikings got the football at the Detroit 19 yard line and scored the go-ahead touchdown with 1:50 to play.
“First of all I felt like needed to be aggressive,” Campbell said sheepishly. “Look, it didn’t work out.”
But ultimately a little Detroit resiliency and a lot Vikings late-game defensive shenanigans trumped Lions blunders.
The Lions won on an 11-yard touchdown throw from Goff to receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown. It was the Lions first win of the season. It was Campbell’s first win as a head coach — yeah, he was an interim coach in Miami in 2015 and won some there.
And it was actually the Lions’ first win in almost one year. Detroit had last won a game on Dec. 6, 2020. Today is Dec. 5, 2021.
The Lions are 1-10-1 now.
There is no winless NFL team today.
“Of course I’m happy!” Campbell said. “We’re all happy. I’m happy for the coaches, I’m happy for everybody but it’s like you want this so bad for the players, man. Because they’re the ones that put in all the hard work and the sweat and the tears. We all do. So do the coaches, man. But that’s what makes this great, you know.
“And when when you lose it hurts. It’s hard. It’s hard. But it’s also why winning is so great in this league, because it’s not easy to do and when you get ’em, man, it’s special.”
The Lions still have the worst record in the NFL but at least they’re not going winless like they did in 2008.
“I would just start with this as far as it pertains us, I was proud of our guys, man, they fought,” Campbell said. “They’ve continued to fight all year and it paid dividends today and they found a way to win when they needed to.
‘I tell you what it takes a weight off because we won. Period. We win. But not because we finally got a win. To be able win, man, like if you tell me next week, well, yeah, ’cause we won. It’s always going to be a load off when you win, every week, it doesn’t matter where you’re at. We did what we had to do to win today. We finally found a way.”
Goff was clearly a star this game. He completed 25 of 41 passes for 296 yards with 3 TDs and 1 interception.
“I thought he did a good job and what was most encouraging was the fact he had a couple of rough plays before that, you know, in the pass game,” Campbell said of his quarterback whom he previously criticized for not making enough plays.
“And for him to be able to rally back off of that, and drive us all the way down and make the game winning throw and just step in there, stay in the pocket and make some things happen when we needed most says a lot about him. I was proud of him.”
Campbell and the Lions dedicated this victory and a game ball to the victims of the Oxford Schools shooting where a 15-year-old student allegedly killed four classmates at the Michigan high school about 30 miles north of Detroit.
The Lions wore Oxford caps and T-shirts on game day and Campbell brought the game ball into his post-game press conference.
“The game ball,” Campbell said, holding the ball aloft, “is for the Oxford community and all those affected.”
He then read the names of the victims before speaking about the game.
Follow on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero