The Detroit Lions accomplished so much during the 2023 season. They won 12 games for the first time since 1991 and captured the NFC North for the first time since the league created the division in 2002. The Lions also won two playoff games in the same season for the first time since 1957 and advanced to their second ever NFC championship game.
But Lions All-Pro right tackle Penei Sewell wasn’t thinking about any of that after the team lost to the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC championship game, 34-31.
Sewell appeared angry, keeping all of his answers short with the media after the game. When asked about everything the Lions accomplished during the 2023-24 season, Sewell provided a four-word response.
“That [expletive] don’t matter,” he told reporters.
He also said “It don’t matter” when asked whether the blown opportunity in San Francisco would take away from Detroit’s success this past season.
The Lions held a 17-point halftime lead in the NFC championship. But San Francisco’s 27 second-half points propelled them to a 3-point victory.
Penei Sewell Can’t Describe ‘Devastating’ Loss
Reporters continued to try and engage Sewell despite his repeated short answers. In response, Sewell’s answers grew even shorter. He replied simply, “no” when asked if there was any way to put into words how devastating the result was against the 49ers.
Sewell provided a little more descriptive answers when asked about specifics from the NFC championship.
The right tackle, who made first-team All-Pro in 2023, said the team had to execute better on the fourth-down opportunities.
Sewell also pointed to ball security as something that helped turn the tide in the second half. Lions running back Jahmyr Gibbs fumbled at their own 25-yard line in the third quarter. The 49ers tied the game four plays later.
The last significant point Sewell made was that the loss would make the team hungry next season. But based on his short answers and body language, the right tackle was more devastated than anything.
Lions Tie Record For Biggest Blown Lead in NFC Championship Game History
There have been far worse blown leads in NFL playoff history. But in the NFC championship game, which started in 1970, the Lions tied the record for the biggest blown lead at 17 points.
Ironically, the 49ers also overcame a 17-point lead against the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC championship game played in January 2013.
The Lions had an opportunity to add to their lead when they were still ahead by 14. But as Sewell put it, Detroit didn’t execute a fourth-down attempt in field-goal range. Wide receiver Josh Reynolds dropped a pass which would have converted into a first down.
San Francisco’s avalanched started from there. The 49ers scored touchdowns on three of their next four drives to take a 10-point lead with 3:02 remaining in the fourth quarter.
Perhaps in a few weeks or months, Sewell will be more proud of what the team accomplished in 2023-24. Quarterback Jared Goff and head coach Dan Campbell expressed being proud of the team despite also their devastation.
But one can’t blame Sewell for his severe disappointment either. According to Next Gen Stats, the Lions held a 90.4% chance of beating the 49ers with 8:29 left in the fourth quarter.
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