Lions’ Dan Campbell Opens Up on Failed Fake Punt Against Packers

Dan Campbell

Getty Detroit Lions head coach Dan Campbell took accountability for the team's failed fake punt against the Green Bay Packers.

Dan Campbell of the Detroit Lions is known as one of the most aggressive head coaches at going for fourth-down attempts in the NFL. He’s made it clear that he’s not going to change.

But after a 29-22 loss to the Green Bay Packers in Week 12, Campbell expressed regret over calling for a fake punt during the third quarter.

“That’s a bad call on me. It’s a bad call,” Campbell told reporters during his postgame press conference. “I shouldn’t have done that to those guys. It’s a bad call.”

The Lions trailed by nine points and faced a fourth-and-4 at their own 23-yard line. Instead of punting, the Lions snapped the ball to the up-back Jalen Reeves-Maybin.

But Reeves-Maybin struggled to make it back to the line of scrimmage let alone gain the first down.

“The Lions fake the punt on their own 23-yard line and the Packers stopped it,” the NFL Retweet X account tweeted.

The Packers scored a touchdown 3 plays later.

When faced with a follow-up question on the decision, Campbell repeated that it was not a good choice to call for the fake punt.

“It’s a bad call on me,” Campbell said. “It is. Shouldn’t have done that.”

The Lions entered Thanksgiving 12-for-22 (54.5%) on fourth down this season. But including the failed fake punt, Detroit was 1-for-5 on fourth down in Week 12.

Failed Fake Punt Leads to Packers Touchdown

Green Bay’s offense didn’t need much help early in the matchup against the Lions on Thanksgiving.

The Packers reached the end zone twice in just 15 plays on their first two possessions. The defense then helped with a fumble returned for a touchdown on Detroit’s second possession.

However, the Lions defense settled in, and the offense scored a touchdown and 2-point conversion at the beginning of the second half to pull within nine points. The tide appeared to be shifting in Detroit’s favor, as the defense then forced a punt on Green Bay’s first drive of the third quarter.

But Campbell remained aggressive on fourth-and-4, calling for a fake punt run at his own 23-yard line.

On the broadcast, Fox Sports analyst Greg Olson explained that the Packers defensive linemen were lined up too wide for the fake run Campbell called to be successful.

Obviously, Campbell was hoping his defense would hold Green Bay to a field goal if the fake wasn’t successful. But that didn’t happen for the Lions either.

On third-and-3, Packers quarterback Jordan Love connected with receiver Christian Watson for a second touchdown. Green Bay was 5-for-11 on third down in Week 12.

Fourth-Down Attempts Backfire for Lions

Even after the failed fake punt, Campbell didn’t get bashful.

On their next offensive possession, the Lions went for fourth-and-7 at the Packers 31-yard line. That attempt came with 13:37 remaining in the fourth quarter and the Lions trailing by 15.

Packers edge rusher Rashan Gary sacked Lions quarterback Jared Goff, ending the drive.

On their following drive, the Lions went for fourth-and-7 again — this time at the Packers 12-yard line while still down by 15. But Goff failed to connect with tight end Sam LaPorta, so the Lions turned it over on downs once more.

The Lions don’t beat the Packers with field goals on those two possessions. But the second half could have been very different, with more pressure on Green Bay’s offense to burn clock late in the fourth quarter, if Campbell hadn’t been so aggressive on fourth down.

Given the ability of hindsight, the Lions coach wishes he had taken the conservative route at least once — on the fake punt.

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