Last-play touchdown ends Detroit Lions, Dan Campbell’s victory drought
When it finally arrived, he was ready to celebrate.
Jared Goff’s touchdown pass to Amon-Ra St. Brown on the final play of Sunday’s game gave the Detroit Lions a 29-27 win over the Minnesota Vikings after going 0-10-1.
For Campbell, whose animated reaction went viral, the drought was much longer. He hadn’t won as a head coach since his Dolphins beat the New England Patriots 20-10 on Jan. 3, 2016, in his final game as Miami’s interim coach.
“This one was definitely special,” Campbell said on Monday. “Winning is always great, no matter the circumstances, but we’ve gone through a lot this season. When you’ve been around this group 24/7 — the coaches and players — and seen the amount of work they have put in to build this program, it makes it feel so much better to finally get over that hump.”
For 58 minutes, things hadn’t looked much different. The Lions got out to a lead, but turnovers and a botched fourth-down attempt let the Vikings take a 27-23 lead with 1:54 to play.
The Lions stopped Minnesota’s 2-point conversion attempt — the third time they had done that — meaning a touchdown would win.
“Getting three of those stops was a huge piece of this victory,” Campbell said. “That gave us a chance to play for the win rather than overtime.”
The Lions got the ball back at their 25, needing a touchdown with 1:50 to play and no timeouts. Detroit isn’t known for a quick-strike offense and Goff has always struggled against heavy pressure, so it seemed inevitable the Vikings would try to force him into a mistake.
Vikings coach Mike Zimmer, though, was concerned about covering Detroit’s receivers. As a result, he only rushed three players, dropping eight into coverage. That took away any chance of Goff hitting a deep pass, but telling him to hit receivers on 5-yard routes showed off his biggest strength.
The Lions didn’t have a play longer than 13 yards in their final drive, and even that required a cross-field sprint by Godwin Igwebuike to pick up a first down and get out of bounds.