Lions coach Dan Campbell. Photo Credit: NBC Lions coach Dan Campbell was questioned on Thursday after accepting a penalty that gave Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs another chance. Photo Credit: NBC

Things generally went well for the Detroit Lions in the first half of Thursday night’s NFL season opener against the Kansas City Chiefs. But Patrick Mahomes and Blake Bell connected for a touchdown late in the second quarter, and a questionable decision by Lions coach Dan Campbell.

With just over a minute left, Kansas City faced a third-and-seven from its own 46. Mahomes found Noah Gray over the middle of the field and while Gray was close to picking up a first down, he was clearly short. The Chiefs were also penalized on the play for holding.

Declining the penalty would have brought up a fourth down. It would have been fourth-and-short and with Mahomes under center, it’s certainly possible that Andy Reid and company would have tried to go for it. But in a tie game, the most likely decision would have been a punt. Despite that, Campbell accepted the penalty.

The penalty forced Kansas City into a third-and-17 scenario. And while that’s a low-percentage situation, for Mahomes and the Chiefs have a much better chance than anyone to pick up the first down.

That’s exactly what happened and more. Mahomes found Marquez Valdes-Scantling to pick up the first down. Then two plays later, he and Bell connected on a touchdown pass.

And with that, the NFL world began to debate the decision to give the Chiefs another chance at a first down. It wasn’t universally criticized.

But the majority of people seemed to feel that forcing Mahomes into fourth-and-short was a better play than a third-and-long.

The real issue with taking that penalty is that it just invites Mahomes to throw the ball deep. Even an intercepted pass in that situation wouldn’t be much worse than a punt for the Chiefs. And generally speaking, Mahomes throwing the ball deep without much risk of serious consequence does not work well for his opponents.

[Photo Credit: NBC]

 

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