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GAME IN REVIEW: Should it really be all about the fake?

Posted Nov 18, 2013

Head coach Jim Schwartz scrutinized for a failed fake field goal attempt, but that may have been the least of the Lions' problems in a 37-27 loss at Pittsburgh

Jim SchwartzSchwartz. (Photo: G. Smith/Detroit Lions)

If the second quarter of Sunday's 37-27 loss at Pittsburgh could be capsuled, it would appear the Lions had the win in the bag.

Detroit scored all 27 points in that quarter as the offense exploded and the defense held strong to limit the Steelers to a field goal over the final 10:27 of the half.

Unfortunately for the Lions, however, there were three other quarters and they didn't dominate those.

"Any loss is a setback but it’s how we respond to this," said head coach Jim Schwartz following the game. "It is still a long season; we are 10 games into the season.

"We need to do what we have said from the beginning. We need to plug guys in for those who are injured, we need to improve on our mistakes, we need to correct our mistakes, we need to improve on things that we are weak at and we need to strengthen the things we are good at.

"No different than the first week of the season. I know it sounds boring but that is where it is."

The majority (if not all) of the buzz surrounding the Lions' 37-27 loss had to do with a failed fake field goal attempt early in the fourth quarter.

Leading 27-23, the Lions had made it 65 yards to the Steelers' 15-yard line. A run by Reggie Bush gained six, but his second lost a yard. A third-down touchdown pass to Calvin Johnson fell incomplete.

Detroit was looking at 4th-and-5 from the 10.

Instead of kicking the field goal, Schwartz called a fake.

"It’s in our arsenal," said Sam Martin after the game when asked how often the Lions practice it. "It’s there, you just never know."

Martin took the snap and ran for the endzone, but made it just three yards before he was brought down. He also fumbled on the play.

"I am not going to get into the scheme," said Schwartz when asked after the game what he saw that caused him to put the call on. "We thought we could get it in with the play that we ran. We thought we had a great chance to be able to score a touchdown there and not just get a field goal.

"We wouldn’t have called it if we didn’t think it was there and it was my call."

Hindsight is 20-20, said Matthew Stafford after the game. If the Lions score the touchdown, the play is heralded as genius. If it doesn't work -- which it didn't -- the play is greatly scrutinized.

And it was.

"For the record, I thought the call by Schwartz for a fake instead of a short field goal attempt that would have widened the Lions’ lead to 30-23 early in the fourth quarter was overly aggressive and wrong," said Mike O'Hara in his postgame column.

"Taking the points would have been the right call. A seven-point lead would make it probable that the game would go to overtime – at worst."

Schwartz's point after the game was that, despite taking three points off the board, the fake field goal didn't result in losing the lead.

"Every play is a risk, we are going to try to do our very best to win the game," he said. "We didn’t make that one. We still had a chance. Our defense turned around and gave up 97 yards after that."

NFC NORTH WATCH:

  • The Lions entered Sunday's game with an outright lead in the NFC North. After their loss to the Steelers to drop them to 6-4, they are tied with the Chicago Bears -- who beat the Ravens 23-20 in overtime -- for the division lead.
  • Detroit would still hold the tiebreaker over the Bears after sweeping the season series.
  • The Green Bay Packers, who were once again without starting quarterback Aaron Rodgers, dropped a 27-13 decision to the New York Giants and fall to 5-5.
  • The Minnesota Vikings lost 41-20 at Seattle to fall to 2-8.

OTHER NOTES:

  • It was a rough game for RB Reggie Bush, who finished the game with 31 yards on 12 carries.
  • "Reggie didn't have an easy time getting started today," Schwartz said. "I think that had a lot to do with our inability to get points in the second half."
  • The Lions ultimately favored RB Joique Bell until he went out with an ankle injury in the fourth quarter. Bell finished with 91 all-purpose yards and a touchdown. After the game, Schwartz told reporters Bell had been cleared to return.
  • Other than Bell, the Lions also lost S Glover Quin to an ankle injury. Unlike Bell, Quin was not cleared to return. Schwartz said it was too early to tell if it was a long-term injury situation.

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