Field position fueled Lions' decision to punt early

Justin Rogers
The Detroit News

Allen Park — One of the more criticized moments from Sunday’s loss was Detroit Lions coach Jim Caldwell’s decision to punt on fourth-and-3 from the Tennessee Titans’ 39-yard line.

It was early in the game, but the Lions’ offense had been moving the ball effectively to that point. The team drove 79 yards for a touchdown the previous series and had moved 44 yards into Titans’ territory on the current possession.

But after weighing his options with his staff, Caldwell determined field position was more important than attempting to sustain the drive.

“We look at it and then we make a determination of what we think is best for us,” Caldwell said. “I think on that one we pin them back inside of the 10, you expect you’re playing the field position game, you know.”

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The Lions did manage to pin the Titans at their own seven-yard line, but it lasted just one play as running back DeMarco Murray burst free for a 67-yard gain, negating the advantage.

Prior to the punt, the Lions were also within Matt Prater’s range. It would have been a 56-yard field goal attempt and the kicker had made five of his six attempts from 50 and beyond last season, including a franchise-record 59-yarder.

Again, Caldwell preferred the field position.

“He’s about one of the few guys that has that kind of consistent range, but if you don’t (make it), you give them the ball with a very short field,” Caldwell said. “You have to also weigh that out as well.”

Twitter: @justin_rogers