Lions notes: Dan Campbell explains why team didn't milk play clock during fourth quarter

Justin Rogers
The Detroit News

Allen Park — Beyond the decision to kick a 54-yard field goal in the closing minutes instead of going for it on fourth-and-four, one of the biggest criticisms Detroit Lions coach Dan Campbell has faced on social media following the team's loss to the Vikings was not consistently milking the play clock throughout the fourth quarter.

On Detroit's offensive series before the ill-fated field-goal attempt, quarterback Jared Goff snapped the ball with 11 or more seconds on the play clock five times while the game clock was running. This despite going to a run-heavy attack, suggesting the Lions were doing their best to kill as much clock as possible at that stage of the game.

Lions head coach Dan Campbell watches from the sideline during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday against the Vikings.

Asked why those two strategies weren't aligned, Campbell explained it was both too early to be trying to drain clock and, more importantly, he didn't want to disrupt the offense's rhythm in the moment.

“Yeah, I think that some if it becomes just rhythm of play," Campbell said. "Even though you’re running it, you’re on the road, it’s loud. You hate to have your offensive linemen up there (in a stance) too long. Now, you could always break (later), get to the huddle and go, but I think you’ve got to be careful. You’ve got to be careful as to when you start going into four-minute mode in this league. Everything has shifted so much offensively, and especially when they had three timeouts, you’ve got to be careful, not at the expense of getting out of rhythm."

Ultimately, the Vikings didn't use their first timeout until the end of that series, immediately after the Lions took the play clock down to two seconds the previous snap. Minnesota also stopped the clock once on their ensuing offensive possession, which ended in a turnover on downs, and used their final timeout on Detroit's next drive that ended in the miss field goal.

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Same toe, different injury

When Frank Ragnow was convinced to get surgery on his injured toe last season, part of the pitch was it would permanently solve an issue that could impact him the rest of his career.

But one game into the 2022 season, Ragnow suffered another injury to that same toe, which caused his mind to race. Fortunately, even despite the location of the issue, it ended up being a different turf-toe-type injury.

"The initial feeling was, 'Oh my gosh, here we go again,'" Ragnow said. "But the surgery is all intact. It wasn't really related to the surgery, so we're all good there on that front. It's just frustrating, but hopefully we can move on from that and it won't ever happen again. 

Ragnow has had a difficult start to the season, missing practice time and the team's Week 2 game against Washington with the toe, while also dealing with a groin injury that occurred in the week of practice leading up to the season opener.

But unlike last year, when he missed the final 13 games, he was able to return after sitting out just one. And he had his best outing of the campaign Sunday against the Vikings, despite playing between two inexperienced, replacement guards.

"I've been grinding in the training room, the trainers were incredible," Ragnow said. "(I) was able to get back sooner than initially thought, so that's good."

Twitter: @Justin_Rogers