Brayden Coombs did not make the call to send Matt Prater out for a 55-yard field goal attempt late in Sunday’s season-opening loss to the Chicago Bears, but the first-year Detroit Lions special teams coordinator said he agreed with the decision 100%.
“No question,” Coombs said Tuesday. “I think for us, first off, with Matt Prater, I wouldn’t trade him for anybody in this league at his position. Talent wise and just his demeanor, his makeup, he’s a stud, and here he’s one of our best players. In the fourth quarter, you look to your best players to make plays. And maybe that sounds unusual to some people because he’s a kicker and not everybody looks at specialists the same as other guys on the team, but make no mistake about it, he’s one of our best players.”
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The Lions opted to try the long field goal with 4:08 left Sunday, rather than punt and try to pin the Bears deep.
Prater pushed his kick wide right, Chicago took over at its own 45-yard line, and five plays later Mitchell Trubisky threw a 1-yard touchdown pass to Javon Wims.
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The decision to kick the field goal was one of several highly-scrutinized plays that contributed to the Lions’ fourth-quarter collapse, their 11th in 33 games under Matt Patricia.
Matthew Stafford threw an interception on the ensuing series, the Bears took the lead with 1:54 to play on a 27-yard touchdown from Trubisky to Anthony Miller, and D’Andre Swift dropped the would-be game-winning pass with 6 seconds left.
Prater was 7 of 8 on field goals of 50-plus yards last season, and made kicks of 27, 32 and 44 yards in the first three quarters Sunday.
Patricia defended his decision to attempt the field goal, saying he wanted to stay aggressive with his top two cornerbacks out with injuries and has “all the confidence in the world in Prater.”
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Coombs echoed that, saying, “I’d do the same thing again next week.”
“Fifty-five yards for him, we expect him to make it,” Coombs said. “He wants to go kick that kick and he expects himself to make it. It just didn’t work out for us on Sunday. Not many kickers in the history of the NFL that I’m aware of have ever been perfect and I’m sure he would like to go give it another shot, it just doesn’t work that way. But certainly had all the confidence in the world at the time that he was going to go out there and bang it through and really kind of put the game away for us.”
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