Dan Campbell pulled out all the tricks Sunday, and Detroit Lions fans are here for it

Detroit Free Press

The Detroit Lions are 0-7. But you wouldn’t know it by the way fans have reacted toward the team in recent weeks, especially after Sunday’s 28-19 loss to the Los Angeles Rams.

The Lions made noise across the NFL-verse when, after scoring a touchdown on their opening drive, they took the ball back on a surprise onside kick, then converted a fake punt on the same drive, taking a 10-0 lead on the Rams before their former quarterback, Matthew Stafford, could even step onto the field.

More Lions: Was this a moral victory for the Lions on Sunday? Yes, absolutely

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Given the Lions were 16.5-point underdogs, going up against a potential Super Bowl contender on the road, first-year coach Dan Campbell’s bold calls put the team in position to win, right up until the final minutes of the fourth quarter.

And football fans around the country took notice. (WARNING: A couple of these tweets contain explicit language. Viewer discretion advised.)

Campbell has been making national headlines since his hire earlier this year, when he said during his introductory news conference that his team was going to “bite the kneecaps” of opposing teams. And while some of his “Dan Campbell-isms” have created a few chuckles, nobody’s laughing at how hard the team’s playing despite being outmatched in most (if not all) games.

Even little things, like rookie offensive lineman Penei Sewell standing up to All-Pro defensive tackle Aaron Donald, are getting positive reviews from the social media masses.

The Lions even led the Rams, 19-17, early in the fourth quarter. But Stafford completed a 5-yard touchdown pass to Cooper Kupp to give L.A. the lead and, while the Lions were able to drive down to the Rams’ 12-yard line, poised to re-take the lead with less than 5 minutes remaining, quarterback Jared Goff threw an interception to Jalen Ramsey in the end zone. The Rams’ field goal on the ensuing drive all but sealed it.

On the other hand: Campbell’s risk-taking went just a bit too far

Despite the loss, it’s safe to say Lions fans feel encouraged by the game — and the overall toughness the team is showing under Campbell and first-year general manager Brad Holmes in what is clearly a rebuilding year.

Campbell and the Lions are also earning respect around the country.

The Lions get the 2-5 Philadelphia Eagles next, at 1 p.m. on Halloween. Could that be the game where Campbell gets his first win as Lions coach?

Contact Brian Manzullo: bmanzullo@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter at @BrianManzullo.

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