The emotion on Dan Campbell’s face late Sunday afternoon was obvious and almost painful to see. The coach, red-faced and nearly overcome by another tough loss, spoke as he wiped away tears.
“It was heartbreaking,” Campbell said as he began fighting the tears. “I was proud of the way our guys fought. Man, that’s the first thing I told them. It’s tough to be 0-5. It’s tough to lose like that again. But I was proud of them, man.
“I’ll tell you, you don’t find a way to get yourself back in the game and get to where we were at if you don’t believe and give all that you have of it. So we just once again made one more miss than they did and it cost us.”
The Lions trailed at Minnesota, 16-6, until 2:30 to play when the Lions picked up an Austin Seibert 40-yard field goal after a 40-second drive. Then the Lions took a 17-16 lead with 37 seconds to play when D’Andre Swift scored on a 7-yard TD run — all of which was made possible because Detroit recovered a Vikings fumble to get the ball back.
But Minnesota quarterback Kirk Cousins drove his team from its own 18 yard line to the Detroit 36 in only 34 seconds to set up Greg Joseph’s winning 50-yard field goal.
“It’s tough, it’s tough,” the visibly shaken Campbell said. “Look, you want it for yourself, as an organization, and for all of us. But you want it for those players. I mean, they’re out there busting their ass. And, you know, it’s tough.
“When you see your players give all that they have and you lose that way, it’s tough. You know, you don’t want that for them. But we’ll be better for it. But, again, credit to Minnesota … And so, ultimately, you know, it — we didn’t do enough to win. But I was proud of them. And I love the fight that they have in them. And I love the grit, I do. And when your defense plays that way, you got a chance to win every game. I thought our defense played lights out today. I really did.”
This press conference was hard to see. Really was. Campbell is a good man who is fully invested in his team and his assignment. So one feels for him.
The corporate NFL doesn’t show us raw emotions like that often enough.
Perhaps at some point this season, Campbell will be able to show his raw emotions in a celebration.
Beware Failure in London
The Miami Dolphins travel to London Thursday to play the Jacksonville Jaguars and it says here the loser should be ready for a seismic shift in the organization because the International Series game has a history of causing those.
In 2007, the Dolphins went to London with an 0-7 record, lost there, then team owner Wayne Huizenga decided he needed to start looking in a different direction. He eventually hired Bill Parcells, who fired practically everyone and brought in his own people.
In 2015, the Dolphins went to London with a 1-2 record. They lost to the New York Jets, and the next day coach Joe Philbin was fired.
What does that have to do with this year? Both the Dolphins and Jaguars seem poised for some change in direction if they fail in London.
Jacksonville has lost 20 consecutive games. New coach Urban Meyer has not only failed to turn things around with his 0-5 record, but he’s done questionable things that have resonated poorly with the public — including discussing how players’ vaccine status affects personnel decisions, signing retired personal friend Tim Tebow to let him try to win a job in training camp, and, of course, the bump-and-grind episode after a Thursday night game two weeks ago.
We already know club owner Shad Khan has said Meyer needs to regain his trust. And we know Khan, who owns the Premier League soccer club Fulham F.C., wants his Jaguars to become London’s de facto home team, which is one reason the team plays there almost every year.
So the if Jaguars lose to the 1-4 Dolphins, does Khan do nothing? Or does he reconsider his hiring of Meyer? You bet he continues to give firing Meyer some thought.
They’re a disappointment. The scoring offense is 31st in the NFL. The defense has regressed alarmingly, going from sixth in scoring last season to 30th so far this season and allowing 34.5 points per game during Miami’s current four-game losing skid.
You think if the Dolphins lose to a team that has lost 20 consecutive games, nothing will come of it?
We’re not talking firing coach Brian Flores or general manager Chris Grier, although Grier is very much on the hot seat.
But we are talking about Flores taking over defensive play-calling duties or (again) adjusting his offensive staff from the two-headed co-offensive coordinator setup he authored in the offseason.
A loss to the Jaguars would practically close the postseason door on the last-place Dolphins, and that also would set them up for significant change following this season.
Dallas good, and promising to get better
The Cowboys are already starting to pull away from their NFC East rivals. They’ve beaten the Philadelphia Eagles, they beat the New York Giants on Sunday, and they enjoy a two-game lead over the Washington Football team.
“Confidence is boosting for sure,” receiver CeeDee Lamb said. “Just climbing and
building brick by brick. Right now, it’s kind of early in the season, just trying to lay down that foundation.”
The Cowboys clearly are talented.
Dak Prescott is the league’s third-highest rated QB.
Ezekial Elliott is the league’s third-leading rusher.
Cornerback Trevon Diggs leads the NFL with six interceptions.
The offense is first in total yards and second in points scored. The defense is second in takeaways, which erases a lot of sins.
And most importantly, there is a bond and kinship building in Dallas that hasn’t been present in recent years.
“It feels a lot different, just the comradery, the bond that we’re already building,” linebacker Leighton Vander Esch said. “You can tell there’s something special here. I know it is early, but we just got to keep continuing to keep building together and realizing that we’re in this together and we’re only going to be as good and strong as our weakest link.
“So, we got to bring everyone along, I think that’s what we’ve been doing, we’re a team full of leaders. I think that speaks wonders to all the guys, everyone steps up when they need to and will speak up if they need to. They’re not just talking to talk, so we got a good thing going.”
This and that …
— The Jets are still starting slow and it typically it kills them. They’ve been outscored 75-13 in the first half this year and it’s an issue they had last year as well. The problem is the Jets don’t typically recover.
It’s the reason they’ve lost 18 of their last 21 games.
“We have to start faster,” coach Robert Saleh said, “and I put that on me to try to figure this out over the next week.”
— The hope around the Chicago Bears is the development of rookie quarterback Justin Fields. Great because the Bears just played their fourth consecutive games in which they had more rushing yards than passing yards. And it is not 1971.
— The Raiders averaged 30 points per game during their 3-0 start. That has fallen off to 11.5 points per game in consecutive losses the past two weeks.
— After a really hot start to the season, Carolina quarterback Sam Darnold had his 12th career game with two-plus interceptions on Sunday. He’s 0-12 in those games.
— The Washington Football Team’s defense was really good last year — as in fourth in scoring defense and second in total defense. But Washington has given up 29 points or more in four consecutive games this season.
— The Steelers promised to address their running game this year because they were last in the NFL in rushing last season. Sunday was the first game this season the Steelers gained 100-yards rushing. A breakthrough.
— Houston’s Davis Mills is the NFL’s first rookie QB with three-plus TD passes in a single game since Russell Wilson did it in 2012. On Sunday, he feasted against the same New England defense that generally limited Tom Brady the week before, by completing 21 of 29 passes for 312 yards and three touchdowns.