In the aftermath of the NFC championship game, the decision-making of Detroit Lions Head Coach Dan Campbell, particularly his choice to opt for two fourth-down conversions in the latter half, has become a focal point for both media analysts and fans alike.
The discourse around these critical moments is likely to persist well into the offseason. However, the conversation around the first fourth-down attempt might have taken a different turn if not for a crucial mishap by wide receiver Josh Reynolds.
Reynolds' Critical Drops
Reynolds, a seasoned player, missed a vital catch that would have secured the Lions' first fourth-down conversion. Compounding the situation, he later let slip another catch during the third quarter on a third-down play, which would have also resulted in a first down, ultimately leading the Lions to punt the ball away.
These two missed opportunities proved to be pivotal, setting the stage for the San Francisco 49ers to amass an unbroken run of 27 points in the latter half of the game. Despite these setbacks, Lions quarterback Jared Goff stood by Reynolds during his postgame media interaction, emphasizing the wide receiver's overall skill and contribution to the team.
"Josh is a stud," Goff asserted, acknowledging the slip-up while also highlighting the collective responsibility for the game's outcome. "We all had our moments. I missed throws. I took sacks. Josh made a mistake, and it's part of the game.
He's an absolute stud." Goff also expressed his trust in Reynolds' resilience and capability to overcome the mishaps during the game. He highlighted that there was no immediate need to discuss the errors with Reynolds after the match, indicating a strong belief in his teammate's mental strength and ability to bounce back from setbacks.
This approach underscores Goff's confidence in Reynolds' professionalism and his own leadership style that emphasizes support and trust within the team. The game concluded with the 49ers overturning the deficit to clinch a victory over the Lions with a score of 34-31, despite a spirited second-half performance.
Reynolds ended the game with a single reception, covering 25 yards from four targets, a stat line that starkly contrasts with the potential impact he could have had had those critical catches been secured.