When Detroit Lions head coach Dan Campbell was asked what went wrong on the final drive of Detroit’s heartbreaking 19-17 loss to the MInnesota Vikings, he had to stop to compose himself. It was the second time in his post-game press conference he had to hold the tears back. The emotion of another last-second loss was too much.
The Lions valiantly fought back from a 16-6 deficit. They scored 10 points in the final three minutes of the game, but left 37 seconds on the clock. The Vikings took full advantage, driving the ball into field goal territory. For the second time in three weeks, the Lions lost to a kicker setting a career-long—this time Vikings kicker Greg Joseph hit from both 55 and the game winner from 54, eclipsing his career long of 53. It’s the first time in NFL history a team has lost twice on game-ending field goals of 50+ yards in the same season, and the Lions have endured it in a three-week span.
Campbell obviously wants to notch his first win for himself, but after the game, all he could feel was pain for his players.
“You want it for yourself as an organization and for all of us,” Campbell said. “But you want it for the players. They’re out there busting their ass. It’s tough.”
“When you see your players give all that they have and you lose that way it’s tough. You don’t want that for them.”
Throughout the presser, Campbell praised their grit, their passion and their never-give-up spirit. That game looked lost well before the Vikings’ game-winning kick, but linebacker Jalen Reeves-Maybin ripped the ball out of Alexander Mattison’s hands, giving the Lions a golden opportunity to tie the game up just 20-yards away from the Vikings end zone.
“It was outstanding,” Campbell said of Reeves-Maybin’s play. “You saw this last week, and I’ve seen it the week before, the guy goes after the football. This is not by accident or coincidence. He goes after the football. He makes a conscious effort to punch the ball out, and that becomes contagious when you get more than a few guys doing that.”
In the end, Campbell came away inspired by the team’s performance and convinced the team will soon be on the other end of these heartbreaking games.
“We’re going to be on the winning side of these before long, hopefully sooner (rather) than later, but it’s coming. I just don’t know when, but it’s coming. When you play that way and fight that way and clean up a couple of these little mishaps that have shot us in the foot, our days of being on the winning side of that is coming.”
You can watch his presser below. It starts at the 5:22 mark: