From the jump, Detroit Lions head coach Dan Campbell has shown zero interest in moral victories, and Saturday in Dallas was further proof of that. Down 20-19 with 23 ticks, the coach eschewed the tie and went for two and the win three consecutive times. After an illegal touching penalty overruled a successful fat-guy score on the first attempt, the Lions tried again from the seven, and then again from the four following an offsides call on the failed second try.
While the third time was not the charm, and Dallas survived, most coaches would’ve backed off the ledge after staring fate in the eyes twice and living to talk about it. Not Campbell though. When people talk about culture, and other seemingly make-believe aspects of a locker room, it’s largely BS.
Some of his fake punts feel clinically insane, but there’s a dangerousness about Detroit (weird, I know), and Campbell’s repeated trust in his team at any time, on any down, anywhere on the field is a big reason why.
If the situation was reversed, I guarantee you Mike McCarthy would’ve blinked — even though I’ve never actually seen him close his eyes — after each of the first two failed conversions. I’m honestly shocked whenever Dallas gambles, and it doesn’t immediately bite them in the temple.
For example, during the prior possession, which was gift-wrapped to the Cowboys via Jared Goff’s second interception, all the offense had to do for a stress-free finish was run the ball, deplete the clock and the Lions timeouts, and kick a field goal. When McCarthy opted to throw deep on second down instead of running it, fans in Big D knew the game was far from over.
Couple McCarthy’s brain freeze with Dan Quinn’s notorious prevent defense, and that’s why I’m writing about this game as if the Lions were the victors. No other team emits a fake sense of security like Dallas. It’s not confidence as much as it is blind faith in the star on the helmet.
For Campbell and the Lions, they have nothing to fall back on, which is why he doesn’t do moral victories. They’ve already clinched the NFC North, so it would’ve been easy to go the conservative route, send out the kicker, and try to steal the contest with a little luck in overtime.
Uh-uh. When you’re a franchise with Detroit’s history, leaving the outcome to chance isn’t an option. You have to make your own luck, and to be sure, given a typical Lions roster, the third-year coach would’ve Riverboat Ron’d his way out of a job long ago.
The difference is this Lions team is legit talented, and every time Dan Campbell keeps his offense on the field, it only builds swagger because there’s a standard now in Detroit: To hell with moral victories. They want the real thing.
The Pistons finally get an actual victory
The Motor City nightmare is finally over: The Detroit Pistons won a basketball game. Cade Cunningham had 30 points and 12 assists, and the Pistons snapped their 28-game losing streak with a 129-127 win over the Toronto Raptors.
That’s win No. 3 on the season. Do you know how bad you have to be to lose 28 games in which your best player didn’t miss a single night? Really, really, really bad. The streak that started before Halloween just barely avoided trickling into January, so pop those bottles with extra vigor Sunday.
For the Pistons, a new year begins Monday in Houston. Not a new season though. This one is definitely over.