DETROIT – Dan Campbell wasn’t thinking about moral victories.
Yes, his Detroit Lions nearly pulled off an improbable comeback, scoring 16 points in the final two minutes and moving the ball back into San Francisco territory before falling short in a 41-33 loss.
Campbell, though, was focused on the first 58 minutes of his debut as Lions coach. Detroit trailed 31-10 at halftime and by as many as 28 in the second half.
“We didn’t do enough to win,” he said. “It was truly a team effort. We talked about everything we needed to do to beat them, and we really didn’t do any of it.
“We let it get away, and even though we gave ourselves a chance at the end, we’ve got a lot to fix.”
New Lions quarterback Jared Goff threw for only 92 yards in the first half and had an interception returned for a touchdown with 1:10 left in the second quarter.
“We can’t play like we did in the first half and expect to win many games,” Goff said. “That’s especially true for me. I can’t throw an interception at that point, and specifically I can’t throw a pick-six. That gave them all the momentum going into halftime.”
The Lions did have some positives. Running backs D’Andre Swift and Jamaal Williams combined for 214 yards on 36 touches, including 121 receiving yards. But they weren’t able to take much consolation.
“There were some good things, and I think it's tough on defenses when we can rotate in and out on long drives,” said Swift, who turned a third-quarter screen pass into a 43-yard touchdown. “But we knew what was at stake today, so we can’t give them a lead like we did.”
Coming into the season, Detroit’s secondary was expected to be a weakness, and didn’t change any minds against Jimmy Garoppolo. He completed 17 of 25 passes for 314 yards and a touchdown, while rookie Trey Lance completed his only attempt for a 5-yard touchdown.
Cornerback Jeff Okudah, who struggled last season after being drafted third overall, was beaten on a 79-yard touchdown from Garoppolo to Deebo Samuel before leaving the game with an ankle injury.
“We got the pressure we wanted and the ball got floated up in the air a little,” Campbell said. “It looked like Jeff didn’t get his eyes around, and they made a play on the ball and really hurt us.
“I would say it was an up-and-down game from Jeff — he shows flashes and then something happens and he makes a young error.”
Campbell didn’t have exact details on Okudah’s injury, but the news didn’t sound promising.
“I don’t want to get too far out in front — we’ll know more tomorrow — but it is definitely around his ankle and it could be an Achilles (tendon).”
Going into Green Bay next weekend, the Lions know they can’t afford the same level of play.
“I think we found out a little about who we really are at the end of the game, but we can’t let ourselves be proud of that,” Goff said. “We can’t put ourselves in another position where we have to try to do something like that again.”
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