Facing a 4th-and-2 from their own 17-yard line early in the season opener against the Kansas City Chiefs on September 7, Dan Campbell dialed up a high-risk play for the Detroit Lions.
Campbell called a fake punt, one that the Lions converted for a first down to extend a drive that would end in a touchdown pass in the 21-20 upset win for Detroit in Week 1. The Lions head coach earned some high praise for the big risk against the defending Super Bowl champions, with the team’s new running back sharing a racy response after the game.
David Montgomery Praises His Coach
Speaking to reporters after the Lions held off Patrick Mahomes to seal the season-opening win, running back David Montgomery described the call in somewhat graphic terms.
“Super, super gritty,” Montgomery said, via Lions beat writer Ben Raven on Twitter. “You get a coach like that who is ballsy and lets his n*** hang like that a little bit. It’s big to be a part of that.”
Dan Campbell calling a fake punt from his own 17-yard line is GUTSY. Holy cow. pic.twitter.com/Je9Lgo9FtO
— Ari Meirov (@MySportsUpdate) September 8, 2023
Montgomery had a strong start to his tenure with the Lions, taking 21 carries for a game-high 71 rushing yards with the go-ahead touchdown with 7:06 remaining in the fourth quarter.
Campbell earned plenty of other praise for his call, with fans and commentators joining Montgomery in sharing their admiration. Lions legend Barry Sanders shared a surprised reaction on Twitter.
“WOW,” he wrote. “Fake punt.”
fake punt at the 17-yard line to start the year pic.twitter.com/dbtFP0hp9g
— Warren Sharp (@SharpFootball) September 8, 2023
“Stone Cold Dan Campbell fake punt from inside his own 20,” added USA Today writer Jarrett Bailey on Twitter.
Dan Campbell: ‘We Expected to Win’
The Lions faced some unusually high expectations going into the 2023 season, with many predicting the team to build on their 9-8 finish last year by winning their first division title since 1993.
Campbell said after Thursday’s game that he had high confidence his team would be able to come into Arrowhead Stadium and take down the defending champions.
“We expected to win this game,” Campbell said, via The Associated Press. “We came in here, knew what we needed to do, knew it wasn’t going to be easy, and we did that. We won.”
Lions quarterback Jared Goff, who is coming off one of the best statistical seasons in his career, said it felt good to get the season started on a high note. He noted that the team had been working hard over the offseason, and praised the defense for keeping them in the game against Mahomes and the Chiefs.
“A lot of work has been put in this offseason,” Goff said, “and you want to start off winning the first one, and we did that today. We didn’t play the best on offense, I thought the defense kept us in the game, but we found a way.”
The Lions had stumbled out of the gate last season, starting the season with a 38-35 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles and losing six of their first seven games before finishing the season with a flourish. The Lions would lose only two more games, finishing 9-8 and falling just short of the playoffs.
With the win over the Chiefs on Thursday, the Lions will now have 10 days off before hosting the Seattle Seahawks in their home opener on September 17.
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