Dan Campbell’s Gutsy Day Shows Major Advantage He Brings to Lions

Dan Campbell

Getty Dan Campbell coaching the Lions vs. the Vikings in 2022.

When the Detroit Lions last played the Minnesota Vikings, Dan Campbell left lamenting how he had felt he let his team down and cost them a win.

While Campbell wouldn’t go as far as to say that he felt he had learned a lesson or changed, it’s clear that he came in an extra motivated man for Week 14’s tangle against Detroit’s divisional foe.

In as big a game as the Lions were playing, it was clear that the team was going to need a big game from a lot of players to get the job done. They also needed a big game from their coach, and they got it from Campbell and Ben Johnson.

Detroit managed to turn the game on a gutsy fake punt call early in the second half. Few folks would expect the fake punt with the Lions in their own territory, but Campbell trusted his team and dialed it up.

Perhaps the better call, though, was deep into the fourth quarter. On third down, the Lions dialed up a shocking pass to offensive tackle Penei Sewell, who rumbled for the first down to help Detroit salt the game away.

Live by the sword and die by it, but surely, it seems as if the Lions have a great coach in Campbell who seems to rise to the occasion in a big way. Most of the time, he knows when to make the big call in the big moment. There may be no coach that understands how to turn players loose in key moments than Campbell.

Down the stretch, this is a huge edge to the Lions. They have a coach that believes in them, and isn’t afraid to go for an unconventional play in the big moment and hit it. It adds the element of surprise to the arsenal for Detroit down the stretch, which could tip the scales for the team.

Against the Vikings, who seemed surprised by the big plays in the moment, it already has paid big dividends for the team.

What else was learned from yet another successful hunt? Here’s a look at some lessons from a big win.

Jared Goff’s Playing His Best Football

Reports surfaced before Detroit’s Week 14 win that the team was content with Jared Goff and wasn’t looking to make a big change at the position this coming offseason. Turns out that timing was excellent.

Detroit managed to get a three touchdown performance out of Goff, who didn’t have a turnover on the day. He also threw for 330 yards, and had a complete day distributing the ball. Goff has the Lions rolling, and is doing well within his team’s offense. If he keeps playing like this, the Lions might be able to keep their winning ways going.

“He’s taking care of the football. He’s making big throws. He’s highly accurate. I thought he had another hell of a day,” Campbell would say of Goff.

Goff has surged since coming to Detroit, and they’re looking like a good bet to keep him. If he continues to play like this, it will be advantage Lions both now and in the future.

Detroit’s Defense Deserves Credit

While the Lions would give up 416 yards on the day and many big plays, they also remained very opportunistic and continued to come up with fantastic stops and big plays on the field.

The secondary gave up some big plays, but stepped up multiple times in the red zone and with Minnesota driving. The big guys up front were pushed around here or there, but responded by pushing back themselves in key moments.

Bend but don’t break might sum up the Detroit defense well. They are playing much better than they did earlier in the year, and giving their elite offense a chance to pile up the yards and big plays. Arguably, the defense was quietly a big reason the team was able to win.

The Lions Can Depend on Michael Badgley

Many folks likely would have been tempted to write off kicker Michael Badgley after he missed a 47 yard kick before halftime. The Lions could have had a 17-7 lead, but had to go into the locker room at 14-7.

Where Badgley went from there was anyone’s guess, but instead of shrinking from the moment, he stepped up. He would go on to drill a 41 yard kick in the second half, and then made a clutch 49 yard boot to put the game away.

Badgley’s response shows why he has the kicker job locked down. He was flawless on extra points and didn’t allow the earlier miss to snowball. It was a big reason the Lions were able to win a big game that turned out to be close at times in the second half.

The fact that the Lions have a kicker that is capable of bouncing back is significant for the team.

Lions’ MVP: DJ Chark, Wide Receiver

While there were tons of standouts on both sides of the ball for Detroit, it’s hard not to like where things are trending for wideout DJ Chark. It was another big game from Chark, and that is becoming a theme for the player.

Chark hauled in six passes for 94 yards, and he made his biggest catch of the day when the Lions were tied early in the first half. Chark went down the sidelines and took the deep shot in stride for the score.

Chark made some other tough caches on the day and moved the ball for the Lions. he is looking like the real deal for the Lions as a result. As the saying goes, better late than never.

Lions’ Stat of the Game

Four, that’s the number of sacks the Lions defense collected. While it was very much a bend but don’t break performance for the Lions, the way the Lions were able to get after it on the field was very admirable.

Once again, Detroit’s rookies led the way, with both James Houston and Aidan Hutchinson picking up sacks to help lead the Lions effort. Detroit also got a huge sack from cornerback Jerry Jacobs.

Detroit also held Dalvin Cook to 22 rushing yards and forced one fumble. The Lions struggle to pressure the quarterback and get after it up front time to time, but this was a major effort on the day for the team.

Lions’ Quote of the Game

“We’re not there yet. We’re playing pretty good football. Yeah we won one, but let’s go get another one.” -Dan Campbell. The Lions love their team and their direction, but the head coach isn’t satisfied with what he’s seen. That’s refreshing in a big way for the Lions, who want to be even better in the future than they have been this season.

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