Dan Campbell is making fans out of many people despite a losing season. The Detroit Lions are a mentally tough football team. They proved the same by their performance against the Arizona Cardinals. Campbell told his team to play the spoiler role to close out the season, and the players responded.
The Lions are still the Lions, but they’re tired of being the NFL‘s punching bags.
The Lions shocked the Cardinals in Week 15
Dan Campbell and the Detroit Lions pulled off the unthinkable in Week 15, notching a 30-12 upset victory over the Arizona Cardinals.
The win alone is shocking, let alone the margin of victory. After losing multiple games by one possession, the Lions finally took one without losing much sweat.
The Cardinals entered the week with a 10-3 record, leading the NFC West. However, they did get embarrassed by the Los Angeles Rams on Monday Night Football in Week 14. Still, no one saw Kliff Kingsbury’s squad getting blown out by Detroit.
The Lions had their way with the Cardinals. They finished with 338 yards of total offense, which isn’t an insane number. However, they owned the time of possession battle and played bend-but-don’t-break defense.
Arizona dropped to the 4-seed in the NFC playoff picture with the loss. Detroit made easy work of the NFC West leaders and sent them on their merry way.
Dan Campbell warned the NFL this was coming
Dan Campbell has to be the most respected 2-11-1 head coach the NFL has ever seen. The Detroit Lions are competing for the worst record in the league, yet players are still willing to run through a brick wall for this man.
After the loss to the Chicago Bears on Thanksgiving Day, the first-year head coach vowed that his team would not throw the season in the trash. Instead, they would try to crush the seasons of other teams.
“We’re playing spoiler now,” he told the Detroit Free Press. “We’re trying to ruin people’s day is what we’re trying to do.”
Well, that’s exactly what the Lions are doing. In Week 13, Detroit knocked off the Minnesota Vikings in a divisional matchup. The Vikings are still in the NFC playoff picture, but the two-point loss to Detroit could come back to haunt them at the end of the season.
Campbell’s squad laid an egg at Denver in Week 14 but bounced back in a huge way against the Cardinals.
The head coach couldn’t contain his excitement during the postgame locker room celebration.
“Welcome to Detroit,” he exclaimed. “We did everything we said we needed to do to that team. You guys are a tough, gritty group, man. You always have been, and now you’re seeing it pay dividends. We got multiple guys out, and multiple guys stepped up. That’s what we’re capable of.”
Detroit has a few more chances to play spoiler
The Detroit Lions have already thrown a massive wrench in the plans of the Vikings and now the Cardinals. But if you ask Dan Campbell, he’ll likely say his team still has plenty of work to do.
Detroit has three games left on its schedule, with tilts against the Atlanta Falcons, Seattle Seahawks, and Green Bay Packers.
The Falcons and Seahawks are sitting at 6-7 and 5-8, respectively. Both teams are technically still in the playoff hunt but will likely need some help.
The Packers boast an 11-3 record, and they’re currently the 1-seed in the NFC. Aaron Rodgers and company just locked up the NFC North title and a playoff berth with a win over the Baltimore Ravens.
The Lions will be looking to play the spoiler role again in each of their last three games. With playoff implications on the line, these teams should prepare themselves to get Detroit’s best shot.
What’s most telling of all is that Dan Campbell refuses to look ahead to the 2022 NFL Draft. With the win and a Jaguars loss, the Lions relinquished their No. 1 pick positioning.
Campbell is worried about the now. He brings a different energy that this franchise has lacked for a long time. Record aside, he continues to prove he’s the right man for the job.
All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference.