Lions’ Dan Campbell admits trying to confuse Cowboys defense before controversial penalty


Detroit Lions head coach Dan Campbell had a chance to cool off Monday following the team’s controversial Week 17 loss to the Dallas Cowboys.

The Lions’ go-ahead 2-point conversion was negated by an ineligible receiver penalty. Taylor Decker was thought to have reported eligible to an officer, but Dan Skipper was deemed to be the one who reported. Decker caught the pass that would have put the team ahead, but it was thwarted.

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Detroit Lions head coach Dan Campbell during warmups before the Dallas Cowboys game at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, Saturday, Dec. 30, 2023. (Junfu Han/RED USA TODAY)

Campbell, along with the rest of the NFL world, was heated by the play. On Monday, he would explain what the Lions were trying to do when some offensive linemen spoke to an official before the play began. It was smoke and mirrors.

“It’s about eligibility. That’s what it’s about. And it has nothing to do with the referee. The referee knows it. He knows it. Because 68 reported it,” Campbell said, via Pro Football Talk. “It’s for defense, so they see three different people. And you just hope they don’t hear that there are 70 of them. That’s all.”

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Taylor Decker in November 2023

Taylor Decker, number 68 of the Detroit Lions, reacts before a game at Ford Field on Nov. 19, 2023 in Detroit. (Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Campbell said in the postgame news conference and in his media availability that he told officials the scenario. Head referee Brad Allen did not attend the meeting Campbell had, Pro Football Talk reported.

Campbell added that he had “controlled his anger” and was going to use the loss as motivation.

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“I’m not going the other way and neither is the team. We’re on a mission and we’re not going to feel sorry for ourselves or wallow in everything,” he said via NFL.com. “We had plays to make and we didn’t make them. It’s a close game, a good opponent, a playoff-type atmosphere and you have to make that extra play, and we didn’t.

Dan Campbell adjusts his headphones

Detroit Lions head coach Dan Campbell on the sidelines in the first half against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, on December 30, 2023. (Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports)

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“Then we’ll use this as fuel. I have pure octane right now. I woke up and I’m ready. So let’s move forward.”

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