In the third quarter of the Detroit Lions’ Thanksgiving Day game against the Green Bay Packers, Lions coach Dan Campbell turned up his aggression to 11 by calling a fake punt. With the team trailing by two scores early in the third quarter, fourth-and-4 from their own 23-yard line, the Lions dialed up a direct snap to Jalen Reeves-Maybin. The Packers were ready for it, though, and Reeves-Maybin barely even made it back to the line of scrimmage.
“That’s a bad call on me, that’s a bad call,” Campbell said after the game. “I shouldn’t have done that to those guys. That’s a bad call.”
Prior to that play, the Lions had scored a touchdown to open the second half and gotten a defensive stop to cut the game to just 23-14 with over five minutes left in the third quarter. However, Campbell’s gamble gave the Packers the ball at the 23-yard line. Three plays later, Packers quarterback Jordan Love found Christian Watson for a 16-yard touchdown that moved the game to 29-14—a deficit the Lions would not be able to come back from.
The Lions have been notorious for their fake punts under Campbell and special teams coordinator Dave Fipp. Prior to this failed attempt, the Lions had run eight fake punts under Campbell, and seven of them had resulted in conversions.
They had previously shown that they aren’t afraid of dialing up fake punts from their own side of the field, too. Back in Week 1 against the Chiefs, the Lions dialed up a fake punt from their own 17-yard line and converted a fourth-and-2.
But this one both seemed to come at the wrong time, and it just plain didn’t work against a Packers team that seemed absolutely ready for it.