On this day, most would have taken a can of Campbell’s chicken noodle soup over Dan Campbell on the Detroit Lions’ sideline. At least, the soup would have offered something — nourishment. When it mattered most Sunday on the road in Minneapolis, Campbell left many wondering what they just witnessed and how.
Without question, Campbell cost the Lions (1-2) a game.
In fact, the Lions’ second-year head coach cost his franchise a chance to step out of the shadows of decades-long fruitily. Instead, the Lions were S.O.L. Everyone in Motown knows that stands for Same Ol’ Lions. This franchise has found a million different ways to lose football games.
The Lions scored the first 14 points of the game, only to lose 28-24 to Minnesota Vikings at the end. Christmas had come early for the Vikings. Campbell gift-wrapped it and added a bow.
The Lions had a 24-21 lead late in the fourth quarter and had the ball. The Vikings had burned through their timeouts.
The Lions had converted four-out-of-five fourth-down conversion attempts at that point. Instead of going to the well once again on a fourth-and-four play at the Vikings’ 37-yard line, Campbell proved he wasn’t ready for primetime.
He has his kicker attempt a 54-yard field goal, which he missed badly.
The Vikings got the ball back in excellent field position — at their 44-yard line with 70 seconds to go and no timeouts. Three plays later, the Vikings had a TD and won the game.
Afterward, Campbell admitted his mistake.
“I fricken regret my decision there in the end,” Campbell said in the press conference after the latest Lions debacle. “I should have gone for it on fourth down, and I told the team I should’ve gone for it.”
Later he added, “I regret that decision 100 percent. I really do, …. I hate it and I do feel like I cost our team. I really do, man.”
It could have been the first road win in the Campbell era.
For the record, the Lions haven’t had a lot of success in this thing called football. Probably the most incredible stat in American sports history is that the Lions have won just one playoff game since 1957. And that came in 1991.
Since then, the franchise has been drowning in a sea of losses. Worse, they have continued to hire the wrong coach to lead this sad-sack organization.
Coming into this season, most thought Campbell was different. They liked his upbeat and glib personality. He sounds like a football coach. He’s wacky, offbeat, and emotional about the game.
Great, if you’re making a movie or TV show.
That’s why many fell in love with the former tight end who actually played with the Lions from 2006-2008.
His presence and performance on HBO’s Hard Knocks were to die for. It was so good that many Lions fans forgot that their team started 0-10-1 under Campbell and won just three games last season.
Nonetheless, Lions fans had convinced themselves that he would turn things around and the Lions would shock people this season. Only the Lord’s Prayer has been said more times than a Lions fan saying, “This is going to be our year.”
It is sad and pathetic.
Only because that talk is never really based on anything other than false hope. Few real football franchises would go crazy about a coach who won three games. Most of those guys get let go, not given a parade.
Talk is cheap. Pro sports has a short menu: Wins and losses.
The Lions had a chance to win two games in a row after an impressive start against the Vikings. The Lions led, 14-0. But then Sunday happened. Instead of a new chapter, the Lions became the laughingstocks.
They haven’t won a road game since 2020. It was supposed to be the one. If they had a good coach, not a good talker or showman, but a coach, they would have won easily. No one in Detroit should stomach this mess being served by Campbell. It’s not good.