NFL Scouting Combine

Campbell expects Lions to learn from NFC title game loss to 49ers

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INDIANAPOLIS — Two weeks before the 49ers’ season ended in heartbreaking fashion, they did a little heartbreaking of their own.

The Detroit Lions held a 17-point halftime lead in the NFC Championship game at Levi’s Stadium.

Twelve minutes later, the game was tied and the 49ers went on to a 34-31 victory to advance to Super Bowl LVIII.

It was a memorable season for the Lions, who claimed their first NFC North title since 1991 and won two playoff games in the same postseason since 1957.

Coach Dan Campbell was asked by NBC Sports Bay Area at the NFL Scouting Combine about the impact of the loss to the 49ers. He said he expects positives to come from the disappointment.

“Absolutely, I think we can benefit from it,” Campbell said. “Like to me, you should benefit from every loss. I think if the losses don’t motivate you to not lose again, and to not lose an NFC Championship Game, then something’s wrong.

“To me, that’s the ultimate. You just don’t want to have that feeling any more. You should do whatever it takes not to want to feel that. Absolutely, we benefit from that.”

Campbell came under intense scrutiny for two failed fourth-down attempts in the second half instead of lining up for field goals of 45 and 48 yards.

The Lions converted 21 of 40 of their fourth-down opportunities in the regular season and were 2-for-2 in their first two playoff games.

Campbell has expressed no regrets about those decisions. However, he does second-guess himself for a run play on third-and-goal from the 1 and, then, using a timeout with one minute remaining in regulation.

Javon Kinlaw and Fred Warner stopped Lions running back for a 2-yard loss.

After quarterback Jared Goff hit Jameson Williams on a 3-yard touchdown pass to pull to within three points, the Lions could not prevent the 49ers from running out the clock after a failed onside kick.

“The only thing, if I could go back, that I felt greedy on was at the very end of the game,” Campbell said. “Instead of just deciding what we were going to do on fourth down, to hold the time out. You can run it. I should’ve waited until fourth down. At least you hold onto that last time out. I thought we were going to pop the run.

“But hindsight. The smarter thing is to throw it. At least you know the clock stops when you score. And you hold the timeout for one more chance, one more opportunity.”

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