Dan Campbell's collapse vs 49ers fuels Cowboys-Lions rivalry after two-point fiasco

NFC Championship - Detroit Lions v San Francisco 49ers
NFC Championship - Detroit Lions v San Francisco 49ers / Thearon W. Henderson/GettyImages

It's hard to say who Dallas Cowboys fans wanted to win Sunday's NFC Championship Game. Ultimately, though, the 49ers are 3-0 in their last three games against Dallas, including 2-0 in the playoffs, and a 42-10 beatdown in Week 5 this season.

The Cowboys-49ers rivalry goes well beyond the last three seasons, so it stands to reason the majority of Cowboys Nation was pulling for Dan Campbell and the Lions to take down the NFC bullies.

After jumping out to a 24-7 halftime lead, Campbell's Lions collapsed in the second half and lost 34-31. While multiple Detroit players committed back-breaking mistakes, Campbell's overly aggressive (some would say reckless) coaching on fourth down has come under fire.

Campbell gifted the 49ers a Super Bowl berth on a silver platter, which only further fuels the budding rivalry between the Cowboys and Lions after the two-point conversion fiasco in Week 17.

Dan Campbell's collapse vs 49ers further fuels Cowboys-Lions rivalry

Sporting a 24-7 halftime lead, the Lions were in the driver's seat. All they had to do was control the clock, limit mistakes and counter every 49ers scoring drive with points and burned clock. Not touchdowns. Points.

Presented with a chance to take a 27-10 on 4th and 2 from the 49ers' 28-yard line with 7:03 left in the third quarter, Campbell elected to go for it. Josh Reynolds dropped an imperfect, but catchable pass from Jared Goff and the 49ers scored minutes later. A made field goal would've restored Detroit's 17-point halftime lead all the while taking eight minutes off the clock. This call was a 10-point swing.

With 7:38 left in the fourth quarter, Campbell again decided to go for a 4th and 3 from the San Francisco 30-yard line. It didn't work. The Lions trailed 27-24 at the time. A conversion wouldn't have guaranteed a touchdown to begin with, and a field goal would've tied the game.

Campbell had another all-time gaffe with a minute left in regulation when he called a running play on 3rd and 1 from the one-yard line down by 10 points. It forced the Lions to burn their first timeout and they needed all three to even have a chance of getting the ball back to tie the game. The 49ers recovered the ensuing onside kick and that was all she wrote.

Rememberhow obnoxious Campbell and Lions players were after their failed two-point conversion against the Cowboys in Week 17? Granted, the refs screwed them with an awful illegal touching call, but Detroit harped on and referenced the loss weeks after the game. The Lions Twitter account even posted a video of Taylor Decker coming out of the tunnel before the Divisional Round with the caption "Reporting as eligible for Divisional Weekend."

Like we said: Obnoxious. A trip to the NFC Championship Game is on the line and you're still referencing that loss? There's nothing wrong with holding a grudge, but Campbell and the Lions took it too far. The end of the game unearthed a new rivalry in the NFC.

Make no mistake: Campbell's decision-making allowing the hated 49ers to reach another Super Bowl added another layer to this burgeoning rivalry, even if it allowed Cowboys fans to poke fun at the Lions for their overreaction to the Week 17 loss.

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