Aaron Glenn is not second guessing himself about rushing three defenders on the fourth-and-19 conversion the Detroit Lions allowed in the fourth quarter of last week’s loss to the Baltimore Ravens.
“The decision to make that call again, I would not take it back not one bit,” Glenn said Thursday. “He made a hell of a throw. We’ve got to continue to execute and we will do that as a team. So, like I have no — there’s nothing in me, in my soul, that’s says I will call something different.”
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The Lions were leading 17-16 with 26 seconds to play when they pinned the Ravens in a fourth-and-19 with two sacks in a three-play span.
After a timeouts, Glenn, the Lions’ first-year defense coordinator, deployed three linemen — Romeo Okwara, Nick Williams and Austin Bryant — dropped seven players into coverage and had with an apparent spy on Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson.
None of Okwara, Bryant or Williams got any pressure on Jackson after the snap, and a coverage bust in the back end allowed Sammy Watkins to run free for a 36-yard gain.
Three plays later, after a spike and an incomplete pass, Justin Tucker made the game-winning, NFL-record setting 66-yard field goal.
“Honestly, I wouldn’t take that call back for the simple fact that you look at the odds of actually converting a fourth-and-19, especially, when you go across the league and look at what a lot of teams play,” Glenn said. “And I know that any time when you make a call, there’s always going to be criticism and, listen, I’m willing to take any criticism that is. But, the thing that I do trust myself, I trust our staff and I trust our plan.”
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Despite that conversion, the Lions had a good defensive plan against Jackson and the Ravens, holding them to 116 yards rushing, their fourth-lowest total since the start of the 2019 season.
Glenn said “about five” NFL coaches reached out to him after the game and asked for game plan tips against Jackson and the Ravens.
“I started getting calls from a number of people around the league just talking about, ‘Man, how do we defend these guys?’ And how good of a job we did,” Glenn said. “And man, I’m not into moral victories and I wasn’t even thinking on the level of, man, these coaches are giving me kudos, I guess, because of the way we defended them. But the only thing that I was thinking about was, ‘We had a chance to win and we didn’t win the game.’”
More Ravens wrap
A few plays before the fourth-and-19 conversion, the Lions opted to play for a touchback on a kickoff rather than mortar kick and force the Ravens to burn precious seconds off the clock with a return.
Had the Ravens returned the kickoff, they might not have had any time remaining after the conversion; Jackson spiked the ball with 6 seconds on the clock, then ran a throw-away play to the sideline before Tucker’s field goal.
Special teams coordinator Dave Fipp said he and head coach Dan Campbell discussed their kickoff plans late in the fourth quarter and ultimately decided to kick for a touchback, as they had been doing all game.
Practice squad kicker Ryan Santoso handled placekicking duties last week with Austin Seibert on the reserve/COVID list. All four of his kickoffs against the Ravens went for touchbacks.
“We have a lot of these conversations during the course of the week when you kind of got a level head and a clear mind and you’re thinking about all the parameters and saying, ‘Hey, how do we match up against them, with the guys we have, the kicker we have?’” Fipp said. “We want to put everybody in a good spot, give ourselves the best chance to win and then all of a sudden on gameday there’s the weight or pressure of the situation. I would say in my experience, you’re best off going with the decision you had already made when you were in a good place and you’re making it calculated based off a lot of information and you were in a cool, level-headed environment, not under the pressure of the game and all that.
“Every time I’ve gone off script and started to do something else, or chase something, it usually ends up getting you, which is what makes this game great. So we kind of stayed with our plan going into the game in that situation there and then we all know what happened.”
Fipp said he is not sure who will handle kicking duties Sunday against the Chicago Bears, with Seibert eligible to come off reserve/COVID.
Defensive end Trey Flowers missed his fifth straight practice Thursday with shoulder and knee injuries and is unlikely to play Sunday against the Chicago Bears. D’Andre Swift (groin), Michael Brockers (shoulder) and Romeo Okwara (shoulder) were limited.
Receiver Tyrell Williams remains away from the team while he deals with a brain injury he suffered in a Week 1 loss to the San Francisco 49ers. The Lions placed Williams on injured reserve last week.
Contact Dave Birkett at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.