Detroit Lions coach Matt Patricia speaks to the media on Monday, Oct. 22, 2018, in Allen Park.
Dave Birkett, Detroit Free Press

In hindsight, Matt Patricia should have taken the penalty.

The Detroit Lions coach said as much at his weekly news conference on Monday.

But when Patricia declined a holding call early in the third quarter of the Lions’ 32-21 win over the Miami Dolphins on Sunday, he said was playing the numbers in counting on a stop from his defense.

“We thought maybe we kind of knew what they were going to do in those situations and thought we could defend it,” Patricia said. “Didn’t, obviously, and obviously hindsight is 20-20 in that aspect.”

The Lions had just taken a 20-7 when Brock Osweiler threw incomplete on a second-and-7 play with just under eight minutes to play in the third quarter.

Ja’Wuan James was called for holding on the play, but rather than accept the penalty and stick the Dolphins in second-and-18, Patricia chose to decline and play for one stop.

The Dolphins converted on third-and-7 with an 18-yard pass to Mike Gesicki, then scored two plays later on a 54-yard run by Kenyan Drake.

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“It was probably right on the edge (of being a) third-and-8 is kind of what you’re looking at from a statistical standpoint of decline the penalty in that situation and play third-and-8 instead of second-and-17,” Patricia said. “Just thought we were in good field position, we had a good call. Kind of, we’re playing all right at that point as far as what they were doing and just thought we wanted to stay in rhythm in the game. Sometimes it’s about how guys are playing at that moment. So obviously, hindsight (it) wasn’t really good. On that drive they scored, so that’s not a great decision by me.”


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Patricia said he was wary of putting the Dolphins and their big-play receivers – Albert Wilson was out with a hip injury at that point, but Jakeem Grant, Danny Amendola and Kenny Stills were still on the field – in an “unpredictable” second-and-long situation, where the Dolphins had a variety of “space plays” to dial up, and at that point he preferred to take a chance with a more calculable third-and-7 play call.

Along with Miami’s offensive tendencies, Patricia said the Lions’ defensive strengths also played into the equation.

According to, the Lions had allowed just one conversion on 17 plays of third-and-8 or longer before Sunday.

The Dolphins were 0 for 9 on plays of third-and-7 or third-and-8 entering Sunday, according to Sharp Football.

“Just statistically you try to just look at the numbers and say, all right, hey, where are we doing really well in stopping them and getting off the field, and where are they doing really well in converting in some of those areas as far as where you say, OK, this is a high percentage,’” Patricia said. “There’s just certain markers you try to look at, based on the team, based on where you’re playing, what you’re doing. Kind of, and what you feel the situation is right there. Probably right on the edge of it. Again, probably hindsight, should have pushed them back.”

Brain games

T.J. Lang played 75 percent of the Lions’ offensive snaps Sunday in his first game back from a serious brain injury.

Lang said the rotation with backup Kenny Wiggins, who played 16 of possible 64 offensive plays, was planned ahead of time as a way to ease him back into action.

Lang has suffered six documented concussions in his NFL career, the last in a Week 4 loss to the Dallas Cowboys.

“It’s been a few weeks now since I had the kind of game reps that I’m used to and especially coming off that injury, I think it was kind of let’s-kind-of-feel-it-back, that type thing,” Lang said. “So that was something that was planned going into the game and Kenny and I both were on the same page, knew about it, and I thought he did a nice job of stepping up, too.”

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