The Baltimore Ravens dominated the Detroit Lions last Sunday, plain and simply. The Ravens had a 28-0 lead before the Lions had a first down, and the stats look more even outside of the score thanks to garbage time.
Head coach Dan Campbell openly acknowledged the poor performance from his team, acknowledging it as a reality check that may have been needed. And maybe he is right. It was just one of those days for the Lions, as sometimes happens to good teams.
One thing that was a little odd late in Sunday's blowout was Lions' starters remaining in the game like they did. Jared Goff and all five offensive lineman played every offensive snap, Amon-Ra St. Brown missed just two snaps and Jahmyr Gibbs missed just 10.
St. Brown and Gibbs' fantasy owners were certainly glad they stayed in and picked up nice production, but in a broad sense it didn't make a lot of sense to keep them in a game that was no longer winnable.
Dan Campbell reaches to explain why starters weren't pulled vs. Ravens
In the case of keeping Goff in for the entire game against Baltimore, it's worth noting backup Teddy Bridgewater was on the injury report last week with a knee injury. So there's a bit of an explanation there, even it was potentially risky to keep Goff in.
On the defensive side, Sunday's game might have been an opportunity to give Alex Anzalone and Aidan Hutchinson a bit of rest. But Anzalone played every snap, and Hutchinson rarely left the field as usual (54 of 60 snaps).
On 97.1 The Ticket Tuesday morning (h/t to SI.com), Campbell explained the decision not to pull starters against the Ravens.
"I think there's a time (to pull starters). I think what's hard is, honestly, I didn't believe that we were out of it until there was two minutes left," said Campbell. "And then that's when we started running the ball, under the two-minute warning. You never know what can happen. You score, onside kick, throw a bomb."
"I mean, Jamo (Williams) was over the top twice. I mean, that's a one strike score. We execute on those plays, and so, right, wrong or indifferent. But no, I don't believe we're sitting there and it's 12 minutes in the fourth, ten minutes in the fourth and it's like, 'Lets better just scrap it.' There's there's a lot of time left. So yeah, I think there's a time and place."
Campbell mentioned a team he was previously with that pulled starters in a one-sided game, only to see the opponent mount a comeback. The Ravens did that on Sunday, but only a little bit. It's not as if the Lions were ever a real threat, so they could have done it more than they did.
Campbell noted how a couple missed deep plays to Jameson Williams could have changed the narrative of Sunday's game, but those are low-percentage plays regardless of any issues Williams has. The league has made recovering an onside kick an incredibly low-percentage play for the kicking team, so to even mention that as a realistic part of a comeback equation is a massive stretch.
Campbell wants to foster a "we never give up" mentality, which is fine. But the Lions were out of Sunday's game by halftime, and they were clearly not equipped to make a credible comeback. Sometimes it's ok to just take your medicine and reduce injury risk for players you will need healthy down the road, even if it's only for a handful of snaps late in a blowout.