The Detroit Lions went home with a controversial 20-19 loss to the Dallas Cowboys in Week 17 but the frustrating result takes nothing away from what they can still accomplished. The No. 1 seed was a remote possibility that is officually gone, and now the No. 2 seed is similarly remote heading into Week 18.
Even though they didn't have their fastball offensively, the Lions defense battled until the final minutes. Following a failed two-point conversion attempt that looked successful, fans are left looking for answers.
While there is obvious reason for outrage, Lions fans can't lose sight of reality. Heading toward the postseason, Detroit has proven they can play with anyone. In a wide-open NFC, the Lions showed they are dangerous and can deliver a clutch performance whether home or away.
Dan Campbell understood this dynamic. He believes the Lions were positioned to win and did plenty of good things, but simply were burned by a judgement call around a few key mistakes.
"We knew it was going to come down to the wire. I thought our defense played really well (Saturday) minus one play that was in our hands. We were there to make a play and we didn't. Other than that, I thought we did some really, really good things. Got off the field, got a takeaway. Offense, 1:41 on the clock, no timeouts, (drove the) length of the field (and) scored. Go for two, we get it, and we get an 'L.' Proud of the way the guys fought. We just made too many critical errors to where it shouldn't have come down to the end."
Though Lions fans are bitter after a horrible call, this team has proven they are different. The officiating error is lined up to fuel them, not turn things negative.
Detroit Lions still have everything in front of them for the playoffs
Linebacker Alex Anzalone made an important point after the defeat, saying he believes the effort Detroit put together against Dallas lends for hope, because the Lions are already set up well heading into the postseason.
"I think obviously, guys are disappointed right now but at the same time, there was a lot of good stuff on film. A lot of stuff to build off of. We won the (NFC) North, we have at least a third seed from my perspective and know we have a home playoff game. That's really when these things count and we just have a lot to look forward to."
Players and fans can feel outrage, but this time around the referees didn't take anything away from the Lions. They still won the division, and will host a playoff game for the first time since the 1993 season. It's important to keep those facts in mind, even with the frustration of another blown call and a rough loss.