Campbell explains 49ers fourth-down missteps

Detroit's identity is shaped by Dan Campbell's aggressive fourth-down style. Campbell's aggressiveness helped the 49ers win the NFC Championship Game between Detroit and San Francisco on Sunday at Levi's Stadium. The Lions were one win away from Super Bowl LVIII.

Campbell revealed to reporters after the game why he went for it on two failed fourth-down conversions that accelerated Detroit's second-half collapse.

"I just felt really good about us converting, and getting our momentum and not letting them play long ball," Campbell said. "The 49ers were burning time. They do that. Regaining the upper hand was my goal.

I understand that hindsight is simple. Yes, I understand. I don't regret my choices. That's hard. It's hard because we failed. It failed, but I don't. "I know I'll be watched. That's the deal, man. But failed." Detroit led 17 points at halftime after dominating the opening two quarters. Campbell's first dubious fourth-down call occurred on the Lions' opening second-half possession.

After the 49ers scored a field goal on the first drive of the third quarter to trim the Lions' advantage to 24-10, Detroit drove into San Francisco territory to break the home team's momentum.

Campbell skipped a 45-yard (-goal try on fourth-and-2 from the 49ers' 28-yard line with 7:03 left in the third quarter, keeping his offense on the field until quarterback Jared Goff incompleted and turned over on downs. Lions kicker Michael Badgley has converted 76.5 percent of his NFL field-goal tries between 40 and 49 yards, completing both of his 2023 attempts from 40 or more yards.

Detroit could have made it three-score if Campbell had attempted a field goal and Badgley had missed. San Francisco grabbed the ball back and scored immediately after Brandon Aiyuk's 51-yard reception moved them inside the Lions' 10-yard line.

Campbell's second brave decision came with 7:32 left on a fourth-and-3 from the 49ers' 30-yard line with the Lions behind 27-24. Once again, Detroit's offense went empty-handed after Goff's incomplete throw to Amon-Ra St. Brown.

San Francisco's following drive was a seven-play, 70-yard drive that extended their advantage to 34-24. Campbell stands by his choices, but it will be hard to accept. The Lions' Super Bowl ambitions were dashed on Levi's Stadium after those missed conversions.