Lions’ Dan Campbell Fires Warning to NFL Following Controversial Cowboys Loss

Dan Campbell

Getty Detroit Lions head coach Dan Campbell shared what he and his team are doing to respond to the controversial loss to the Dallas Cowboys.

The loss the Detroit Lions suffered against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 17 could be remembered as one of the most controversial of the 2023 season. But Lions head coach Dan Campbell made it clear that he and his team are moving on from it.

Campbell was visibly irate on the sidelines after a disputed penalty wiped out Detroit’s go-ahead 2-point conversion and was still upset during his postgame press conference. But he was far less emotional while speaking to reporters on January 1.

With his new composure, Campbell shared how the Lions coaching staff and players will approach the rest of the season after the Week 17 heartbreak.

“I’ve got controlled fury, and I’m ready to go. I’m absolutely ready to go. I don’t go the other way. The team won’t either,” Campbell told the media. “We’re on a mission. We’re not going to feel sorry for ourselves, and wallow in everything. We had plays to make, we didn’t make them. It’s a tight game, a good opponent, a playoff-type atmosphere, and you’ve got to make that one extra play that we didn’t.

“We will use this as fuel. I’ve got pure octane right now. I woke up, I’m ready. So we’re moving forward.”

It appeared as though the Lions took a 1-point lead with a 2-point conversion against the Cowboys in Week 17 with 23 seconds left in regulation. Quarterback Jared Goff connected with left tackle Taylor Decker in the end zone on the 2-point attempt.

But after ruling the conversion successful, officials deemed Decker an ineligible receiver on the play. With the Lions unable to convert the 2-point try again, the Cowboys held on to beat the Lions, 20-19.

Lions’ Dan Campbell Calls Loss to Cowboys ‘A Blessing’

As Campbell continued on January 1, he called that the penalty that nullified Detroit’s 2-point conversion in Week 17 “a blessing.” His argument for that label was because the controversy didn’t occur in the postseason.

Campbell was an assistant head coach and tight ends coach of the New Orleans Saints during the 2018-19 season when officials didn’t call pass interference against the Los Angeles Rams late in the NFC Championship Game. It remains one of the most controversial calls in NFL playoff history.

Campbell compared that controversy with the latest one for the Lions.

“Even in that game, we had chances to win before all of that happened,” Campbell said of the 2019 NFC Championship Game. “But that one ended it, that was it. We walked away, packed out bags and left.

“This one, we got a taste of what that’s like, but we’ve still got a chance. We haven’t even started the tournament, so I think it’s a blessing.”

Campbell Dispels NFL Is Against Lions

This isn’t the first time the Lions have been at the center of controversy. Detroit lost in Week 3 of the 2015 season against the Seattle Seahawks after officials missed an illegal batting penalty on Seattle.

Later that same season, then Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers defeated the Lions with an impressive Hail Mary at the end of regulation. But a wrongfully called face mask penalty versus Detroit set up the game-winning Rodgers touchdown.

During the 2015 playoffs against the Cowboys at AT&T Stadium, officials threw a flag on a fourth-quarter fourth-down try from Detroit. But after a conference, officials deemed there wasn’t a penalty on the play.

With another controversy not going Detroit’s way in Dallas, Lions fans have voiced their displeasure with the NFL, arguing the league is against the Lions.

Campbell pushed back on that narrative.

“I get it, but don’t do that. Don’t buy into that,” Campbell said. “Don’t live in that world, man. It will just pull you down.”

Campbell again pointed to his experience in New Orleans. Saints fans felt the same way after two straight tough playoff losses in 2018 and 2019.

“If it makes you feel any better, the NFL is against every team,” said Campbell.

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