MINNEAPOLIS – Dan Campbell was at his aggressive best, until it mattered most.
The Detroit Lions converted four of six fourth-down attempts on their way to a 10-point second half lead Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings, but Campbell opted to try a 54-yard field goal with 1:14 left in the fourth quarter rather than punt and pin the Vikings deep or try and convert a fourth-and-4.
Austin Seibert missed the kick, and the Vikings, taking advantage of a short field, scored the winning touchdown three plays later to beat the Lions, 28-24, at U.S. Bank Stadium.
The Lions (1-2) appeared to be on their way to their first road win since Dec. 6, 2020, in Darrell Bevell’s first game as interim coach, before Campbell’s questionable late-game decision.
Jamaal Williams ran for 10 yards on third-and-14 to give the Lions a manageable fourth-and-4 at the Minnesota 36-yard line.
The Lions offense initially stayed on the field, but Campbell sent the field goal unit out after taking a timeout with 1:14 to play.
Seibert missed his second kick of the game wide right, and the Vikings started the ensuing possession at their own 44-yard line.
Kirk Cousins threw incomplete on first down, the found Ypsilanti native K.J. Osborn for a 28-yard gain to move the Vikings (2-1) into field goal territory. On the next play, Osborn beat Mike Hughes on a corner route for a 28-yard touchdown catch with 45 seconds left.
Jared Goff led the Lions to midfield on their final drive, but threw a desperation interception with 9 seconds left to send the Lions to their second defeat in three games.
Campbell, one of the NFL’s most aggressive head coaches last season, showed some of the same gusto early Sunday.
The Lions converted four of five four downs in the game’s first 40 minutes, eschewing long field goal attempts after Seibert clanked a 48-yard try off the right upright on the game’s opening possession.
Those fourth-down attempts netted 68 yards, an average of 13.6 yards per play, and led to two touchdowns and a field goal.
The Lions converted a fourth-and-6 with a 30-yard Goff pass to Amon-Ra St. Brown on their second offensive possession to set up a 2-yard touchdown run by Williams.
Williams ran for 5 yards on fourth-and-1 and Goff found Josh Reynolds for a 17-yard gain on another fourth-and-1 on the ensuing possession, when the Lions took a 14-0 lead on a 5-yard touchdown pass to T.J. Hockenson.
After failing to pick up a fourth-and-2 on their next possession, Goff threw a 16-yard pass to Reynolds on fourth-and-3 early in the third quarter to set up a 40-yard Seibert field goal that gave the Lions a 24-14 lead.
Alexander Mattison, filling in for an injured Dalvin Cook, scored on a 6-yard run midway through the fourth quarter to pull the Vikings within one score, and the Lions failed to convert a fourth-and-1 on their next possession when Williams cut outside right and was stuffed.
Cook finished with 96 yards rushing and a touchdown on 17 carries for the Vikings, and Cousins was 24 of 41 passing for 260 yards and two TDs.
Goff was 25 of 41 for 277 yards for the Lions, and Williams added 87 yards on 20 carries for the Lions, who got limited production from D’Andre Swift as he played through an ankle injury.
This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: NFL Detroit Lions suffer devastating loss to Vikings, 28-24