Schwartz Believes His Team is Better Than Banking on One Call

Posted Sep 13, 2010

It has been a chaotic 36 hours when it comes to media coverage of Detroit’s 19-14 loss at Chicago.

After the Lions led for the majority of the game, what seemed to be a game-winning touchdown from Shaun Hill to Calvin Johnson was ruled an incompletion.

That ruling caused an uproar in Detroit with countless debates and polls springing up regarding whether it should have been a catch.

Head Coach Jim Schwartz appreciates all of the fan support and loyalty, but told his players that he would be doing them a disservice if he focused on that play as the reason they lost.

“There were a lot of other big moments in that game and that was one of those moments,” he said. “But to point to one as the sole reason, that’s probably a little bit too much emphasis on that play.”

Schwartz cited the 89-yard reception for a touchdown toward the end of the first half followed by a sack-fumble in the Lions’ next drive, which the Bears ultimately turned into a field goal.

Those two plays alone – which occurred in the last two minutes of the first half – made the difference in Detroit entering the locker room 14-13 instead of 14-3.

“All of those plays had as much to do with losing that game as the Calvin play,” said Schwartz. “I think they all deserve as much as attention. As a team that’s where our focus is: on those plays, not parsing a rule.”

Ultimately, Schwartz sees his team with significantly more ability than it showed Sunday, making it even more of an upside that the Lions even had the opportunity to win the game at the end.

His current focus is to take the mistakes Detroit made at Chicago and turn them into successful plays against Philadelphia this week at Ford Field.

What is unfortunate for the Lions is that they may have to do that without certain starters, most notably Matthew Stafford.

“Matt’s very sore today,” said Schwartz. “We’ve had some good returns from his test that it doesn’t look like surgery is going to be needed, but how much time he misses is still going to be up in the air. We’ll probably know a little bit more on Wednesday.”

Stafford isn’t likely to undergo any more tests, but the prognosis will come from how he feels.

If Stafford isn’t able to play against the Eagles, Schwartz is more than confident in Hill, who has plenty of experience as a starter.

“We have a lot of confidence in Shaun,” he said. “I thought that was one of our biggest offseason acquisitions: getting him here in the role to be available to play like we saw in the second half of that game and to give us that chance to win a game. He gave us that chance.”

Though the Lions’ offense as a whole struggled in the second half, Schwartz and other offensive players are quick to point out that wasn’t because Hill entered the game.

What’s more, Schwartz says that the outlook would be significantly different had Johnson’s catch in the endzone been ruled a touchdown.

“That was a heck of a drive,” said Schwartz. “Again, you can write stories a lot of different ways – if that ball’s complete right there, the Shaun Hill two-minute drive at the end of that game is a story that would have been easy to write.”

Why those plays weren’t made prior to the final two minutes of the game had a lot to do with field position, the score and Detroit struggling in the ground game.

“We were having a really hard time running the football,” said Schwartz. “So take that away from a quarterback and you’re a one-dimensional team.”

Factor field position and the fact that Detroit held the lead for the majority of the second half and the game plan became getting as much out of each drive without risking the lead.

But once the lead changed hands and the Lions were down by five, Hill was able to be more aggressive. Not only was there that urgency to do so, but Detroit was finally at the 18-yard line instead of being backed up inside its own five.

“I think you saw a little different thing with him and he was able to go make aggressive throws and push it down the field,” said Schwartz.

“But to do those same things when you’re backed up on your own one when you’re protecting a one-point lead, that may not have been the smartest thing to do and Shaun’s a smart quarterback.”

Schwartz is confident with his personnel heading into this week’s match-up with Philadelphia, which marks the regular season home opener for the Lions.

Though they would like to be 1-0 heading into this game, Schwartz has his players focused on the things they can control, improving upon errors committed against Chicago.

“We have enough talent, we have enough players, we have enough ability to take (official calls) out of the equation,” said Schwartz. “We’re not going to make excuses; we’re not going to make excuses for our play, we’re not going to make excuses for rule books or officials or anything like that.

“Our job is to win – that is the only thing we’re judged on. We’re not judged on public polls that it was a catch or it wasn’t a catch or anything like that. I think if I point to things like that, I’m not doing my job as the leader of the team.”