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Jim Caldwell explains red-zone decisions that doomed Lions in loss to Steelers – CBSSports.com

The Lions had 482 yards of offense against the Steelers‘ top-ranked defense on Sunday night but somehow still found a way to lose. Part of that was because Pittsburgh’s defense was impenetrable on the goal line and Detroit was unable to find the end zone all evening, but part of it was a direct result of an ill-advised decision by Lions coach Jim Caldwell.

With 4:31 left in the third quarter, facing a fourth-and-goal from the Steelers’ 1-yard line and his team trailing, 13-12, Caldwell decided to go for it.

This happened:

A few plays later, the Steelers would score on a 97-yard touchdown reception and would eventually go on to win, 20-15. So why didn’t Caldwell opt for the chip-shot field goal, which would have given the Lions a 15-13 lead?

“Against a team like that, unless you score touchdowns, it’s very difficult to beat them kicking field goals all day,” Caldwell said after the game, via CBS Detroit.

Except that the Lions could have done just that: Beaten the Steelers by kicking field goals all day.

Of course, Caldwell did kick another field goal, but only after the aforementioned 97-yard touchdown.  The Lions again made it all the way to the Steelers’ 1-yard line before stalling. The field goal cut Pittsburgh’s lead to 20-15. 

“Try to be aggressive and go after it the first time around,” Caldwell explained. “The game was a little bit later on the next time around, so we kicked it and still gave ourselves a chance to win it a couple times. Just couldn’t get it done, a turnover and just ineffectiveness.”

If you’re of the opinion that the Lions would miss those three points they passed up on the previous drive, you would be correct.

Because after forcing the Steelers to punt on back-to-back drives, quarterback Matthew Stafford had the Lions on Pittsburgh’s 8-yard line with two minutes left. But instead of another short field goal to take a 21-20 lead, Detroit trailed by five points and had to go for it. The ball fell incomplete, the Steelers took over on downs, and several plays later, the game was over.

How bad was it for the Lions’ offense?

There’s more:

And more still:

But if the Lions had found their way into the end zone just once, Stafford maintains, the storylines Monday morning would be completely different.

“If we had put it in the end zone, you would have called this a breakout performance,” he said. “From 20 to 20, we were playing as good as football as we have this year.”

And Caldwell added: “We had some big plays there. It’s a bit of a situation where you don’t feel good about obviously losing the game, but also just the fact that we didn’t put the ball in the end zone. If you have to kick field goals all day it’s not ideal.”

It’s a huge loss for the Lions, who have now dropped three straight and fall to 3-4 on the season, 2.5 games behind the division-leading Vikings.

Jim Caldwell explains red-zone decisions that doomed Lions in loss to Steelers – CBSSports.com

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