Lions DB pays ultimate price for way-too-early taunting in NFC Championship Game loss

A Lions defensive back ate crow in the worst way possible.

Detroit Lions
Detroit Lions / Kevin Sabitus/GettyImages

The Detroit Lions looked like they were on the verge of making it to the Super Bowl for the first time in their franchise's history. Their incredible 2023 season under Dan Campbell earned them the moniker "the real America's team" from fans around the country, but, unfortunately, the Lions campaign ended up being quite Dallas Cowboys-esque.

Detroit blew a 24-7 half-time lead, as the 49ers came roaring back with a 17-0 third quarter, finishing the game as 34-31 victors to return to the Super Bowl under head coach Kyle Shanahan. The 49ers were the clear favorites on paper with a star-studded defense and the explosive Christian McCaffrey leading the way on offense.

There's no doubt the Lions will be kicking themselves for their collective failure in the second half of this unforgettable NFC Championship game, but no player will be more self-critical than safety CJ Gardner-Johnson, who got a little too carried away with the celebrations during the game.

The 49ers playoff experience over the Lions made a difference

Never, ever do this in the NFL.

With the Lions up 20-7 in the second quarter and still a whole lot of football left to play, Gardner-Johnson waved goodbye to the 49ers fans. It wouldn't take long for them to serenade their farewells to him on the road to a Super Bowl rematch with Patrick Mahomes' Kansas City Chiefs.

The Lions have to be commended for making it this far, however, the 49ers showed a ton of heart in coming back from this, whereas Gardner-Johnson's celebration is a sign that Detroit may have gotten a little too complacent. You can't take things for granted in the NFL, especially not in the postseason against elite competition capable of rebounding at any given moment. That's the advantage extra playoff experience can give you, and the 49ers took that to the bank in the game's fourth and final stanza.

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