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Dan Campbell: "I understand the scrutiny I'll get" for fourth-down decisions

Twice in the second half of Sunday night's NFC Championship game, Lions coach Dan Campbell rejected field-goal attempts on fourth and short. Both times, Detroit failed to convert.

The first happened with the Lions leading 24-10 and 7:03 left in the third quarter. It was fourth and two from the 49ers' 28. A 45-yard field goal, if good, would have given the Lions a three-score edge at 27-10. Reynolds dropped the pass.

Later, the Lions trailed by three. They faced fourth and three from the San Francisco 30 with 7:38 to go. Instead of a game-tying 47-yard field goal (yes, it could have been missed), the Lions went for it, again. This time, it wasn't dropped — because the throw never had a chance.

The 49ers drove down the field, scored a touchdown, went up by 10, and that was pretty much that.

After the game, Lions coach Dan Campbell was asked about the two fateful failures on fourth down.

"I just felt really good about us converting, and getting our momentum and not letting them play long ball," Campbell said. "You know, they were bleeding the clock out, that's what they do. And I wanted to get the upper hand back. It's easy hindsight, and I get it. You know, I get that. But I don't regret those decisions. And that's hard, you know? It's hard. Because we didn't come through, it wasn't able to work out. But I just — I don't, I don't. And I understand the scrutiny I'll get. And that's part of the gig, man. But, you know, it just didn't work out."

We'll save for a later post an argument about striking the right balance between aggressiveness/analytics and smart football strategy. Regardless, Campbell has fueled the Detroit resurgence by being aggressive.

Maybe he'll learn from this experience. Maybe, in the future, he'll soften being blindly aggressive by making a more measured decision that takes all factors into consideration.

Regardless, he's right on all counts. It didn't work out. And he will get plenty of scrutiny for the decisions he made.

That's the downside of being aggressive without blinking. Sometimes, taking a breath and stepping back leads to a different decision. A decision that could have made all the difference.

A decision that could have had the Detroit Lions in their first ever Super Bowl.

Being aggressive got the Lions as far as they did. Being aggressive also kept them from getting any farther.