Detroit — Vikings tight end Blake Bell was the bearer of bad news.
After the Lions’ special teams kept crucial points off the board in the first half, it nearly tied the game in the final minute when cornerback Darius Slay blocked a 25-yard field goal attempt and cornerback Nevin Lawson returned the loose ball 77 yards for a touchdown to send the Ford Field crowd into a frenzy.
But that’s when Bell decided to dash Lawson’s spirit and inform him that Slay was offsides on the play, erasing any hope of a holiday miracle.
“I was walking back (out of the end zone) and the other tight end on the other team (Bell) was like, 'You see that yellow flag?'” Lawson said. “I was like, 'Ah, man.’
“It sucked. I was like, 'Man, that was our chance right there.' I knew once they did that, I knew it was over.”
It was a deflating finish to a crushing 30-23 Thanksgiving Day loss Thursday that gave the Vikings a stranglehold on the NFC North title and put the Lions’ playoff hopes on thin ice.
Yet, it was a last-gasp gamble worth taking considering the Lions were out of timeouts and needed to do something — anything — to keep it a one-possession game and get one final crack at the Vikings.
Instead, the 5-yard penalty, which came on a fourth-and-1 situation, resulted in a first down and allowed the Vikings to run out the clock with a couple of kneel downs.
“I was timing it, just trying to get a good get off,” Slay said. “I was just trying to give it all I got and try to make a play for our offense to get back on the board or something. That's all I was doing.
“I didn't feel (offsides) because when I looked, I was like, 'OK, good timing.' But then I looked back and saw the yellow flag and said, 'Damn, I must be a little too early.' It is what it is.”
Lawson was adamant Slay wasn’t offsides. However, safety Glover Quin wasn’t so sure since he was on the backside of the play and didn’t get a clear look of Slay firing off the left edge before he laid out in front of kicker Kai Forbath.
“As soon as Slay took off and once I saw him block it, I looked to the left and I saw them (refs) throw a flag so I was like, 'Ah, heck,’” Quin said. “Nothing you can do. It's just one of those things you go for it and try to get a block.”
Earlier in the game, Detroit’s special teams came through with a pair of clutch blocks to prevent four points. Defensive tackle A’Shawn Robinson swatted an extra point attempt in the first quarter and defensive tackle Jeremiah Ledbetter got a hand on Forbath’s 53-yard field goal attempt in the second.
“We did our job,” Slay said of the special teams play. “Unfortunately, that last one we should have had. We should have done the same thing. We wanted the same results, but you know, it just is tough, man.”