In Week 1, you could make the argument that the Detroit Lions offense got a little too conservative and it cost the Lions an 18-point lead and a chance at victory. A late three-and-out and a few unsuccessful runs gave the Cardinals the ball back, and they capitalized, tying the game with 43 second remaining.
The Lions almost had a repeat performance on Sunday against the Eagles. Prior to the game-sealing kneel downs, the Lions ran nine plays on offense in Eagles territory in the final quarter with a great opportunity to both score points and bleed the remaining clock.
In all three situations, the Lions went run-run-pass, and in all three situations they resulted in a failed first down.
Now looking back in retrospect, would Lions offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell do anything different?
“Well we go back and evaluate all of our moves that we make in those game, and each and every game is a little bit different in our approach,” Bevell said in his teleconference on Tuesday. “There’s a lot of conversation on the headset, and sometimes it’s the ability that you want to be able to go for it, but then sometimes it’s a clock thing. You’re making decisions to make sure that the clock run downs and there’s timeouts. Each and every game is a little bit different.”
In those three crucial fourth-quarter drives, the Lions were able to just run 5:53 off the clock while forcing the Eagles to use a single timeout. After the blocked field goal that gave Philly a chance to tie or win, the Eagles had the ball at midfield with 1:39 left and two timeouts.
Still, Bevell didn’t seem to back down from his decision.
“Obviously as an offensive guy that’s running this thing, I want to make sure that we don’t go three-and-out and that we finish those drives,” he said. “But there’s going to be times where you’re going to do it—run on first down, run on second down, and then see what happens. You may have to run it on third down or it becomes a real important got-to-have-it situation there on third down to keep the clock moving.”
Bevel did admit, however, that he wasn’t happy with how one of the three drives worked out. After a solid punt return from Jamal Agnew, the Lions had the ball on the Eagles’ 48-yard line with 13:02 remaining and a 10-point lead. They went run-run-pass, failed to convert a first down and punted the ball away. Still, Bevell stopped short of saying he would’ve changed any play calls.
“I’m not going to say that we call any different plays or any of that, but we need to convert, we need to get a first down,” Bevell said. “I think if we would have been able to do that, then the game could have been a big time different situation there. We also had an opportunity at the end of the game. We had the ball, it was 2:19 or so, 2:18 or 2:19 on the clock, and the defense had three timeouts, so there was an opportunity to finish the game there. As an offense we pride ourselves on being able to finish that and take that time off the clock, and we’re all on board that we need to do better there.”