Lions OC Darrell Bevell defends goal-line play call


The Detroit Lions came up one yard shy of potentially sending Sunday's game in Oakland into overtime. Offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell has regrets about the failed play, but not the specific call.

"I want to call plays that score touchdowns," Bevell said in a Tuesday conference call, via MLive's Kyle Meinke. "It didn't score a touchdown."

No, coach, it did not. And now the Lions are 3-4-1.

After a third-down pass got the Lions to the Oakland 1-yard-line with no timeouts left, Detroit scrambled to get in a fourth-down play. Jon Gruden took a timeout that appeared to give the Lions reprieve. Bevell had time to get his preferred play call in with eight seconds on the clock. The apparent gift quickly turned into coal.

Bevell's play call enigmatically included taking Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones off the field.

The OC, however, defended the decision.

"We were on the 1-yard line, so we ended up going with goal-line package, which we practice all the time," Bevell said. "We have a number of personnel groups, we have a number of formations that we line up in. I think as you could see during the game, felt like we, from the 1(-yard line), we're running the ball well enough during the game to be able to go with a little bit of a play-action. Thought we had good matchups, we had good size. Unfortunately, we weren't able to execute it exactly the way we wanted to."

Whether it's the 1 or 21, taking your best players off the field to design a play for Logan Thomas seems like faulty logic. Yes, several Raiders defenders made good plays, including Clelin Ferrell getting pressure on Matthew Stafford, but to take your best weapons completely out of the game is playing into the defense's hands.

"Like I said, we were on the 1-yard-line," Bevell said. "We went with a goal-line package, which with those guys are not involved in that package. Like I said, during the game, there are all kinds of packages, there are things that we did earlier in the game that we were down inside the 5 that we used as well. That was the one in that moment that we decided to go with."

As Bevell surely knows given his role in the infamous play from the goal line in Seattle's Super Bowl loss to New England, not all plays from the 1-yard-line are created equal. The Lions hadn't run the ball well at all, so going big and play-actioning -- even though stingily running in goal-to-go situations had been a tendency -- did the defense a favor. With a banged-up offensive line and tight end T.J. Hockenson getting injured, Bevell's big package fell considerably short of expectations.

With the game on the line, the Lions rightly put the ball in their best player's hand. Simultaneously, they also handcuffed that player by parking his best weapons on the sideline.

On balance, Bevell has had a good season calling plays for Stafford in his first year in Detroit. The final call Sunday, however, was a dubious flop.