Detroit Lions head coach Jim Schwartz came into the post-game press conference after Sunday’s 37-27 defeat in Pittsburgh and was immediately grilled about the failed fake field goal call in the fourth quarter.
"It had nothing to do with mindset," Schwartz said when asked about the aggressive call. "It had to do with making the plays to win the game. We didn’t make it.
"You can say whatever you want. You all can say whatever you want about me. Don’t say I’m scared because we ain’t.
"When I say we, I mean me. We were doing what we thought was best to win that game and that was faking the field goal. We aggressively go and score a touchdown right there, we’ve seen that in the past, we had a chance to put that game away. We didn’t get it done today."
Leading 27-23 with 12:56 remaining in the contest, Schwartz made the aggressive call, on the road, to try and take a two-score lead instead of attempting the field goal that would have put his team up by seven.
It didn’t work as punter
On the road, with the wind at their back, and a chance to make it a full touchdown lead, the fake isn’t the call most coaches would make.
"We didn’t play well enough to win this game," Schwartz said. "It’s not because we are passive, we went for it on a fourth down also. We didn’t make enough plays to win this game, offense, defense and special teams."
Schwartz is right about that. The Lions had plenty of opportunities to make a play and win the game following the failed fake field goal.
They could have made a play on defense during and third-and-long conversion and a fourth-down conversion on the subsequent Steelers drive. Instead, the defense relinquished a 16-play, 97-yard touchdown drive to give up the lead.
They could have also moved the ball and scored on their possession after Pittsburgh had taken the lead. Instead, Stafford threw an interception.
The failed fake field goal will get the most talk, but it’s just one of a number of plays that contributed in the loss.
TALE OF TWO HALVES
"I’ve got absolutely nothing for you."
That was the quote from receiver
Frustration seemed to be behind Johnson refusal to talk to the media, and who could blame him.
After catching six passes for 179 yards and two touchdowns in the first half. Johnson was targeted only three times in he second half and didn’t have a catch in the final 30 minutes.
"It might just have been what they didn’t do," Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said after the game when asked what the difference was in stopping Megatron in the second half.
That statement seems to be a bit of an indictment on the Lions offense.
The Lions went away from what worked so well in the second quarter when they scored all 27 of their points, which was throwing it to Johnson, covered or not.
"They honestly didn’t do anything different scheme wise in the second half," Schwartz said. "We didn’t make enough plays against what they were running. They were doing the same things that we made a couple plays earlier in the game against. When it came down to it, we didn’t make enough plays in that second half of the game."
Stafford didn’t complete a pass in the fourth quarter and missed on his last 12 dropbacks.
That was a top-10 Steelers pass defense coming into the game and they looked the part for everything but the second quarter.
He’s right, especially when it comes to the play of the secondary. Too many missed tackles. Too many open Steeler receivers. Sunday wasn’t a good performance for the back four.
Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger threw for 367 yards and four touchdowns with a quarterback rating of 119.4.
"If you’re not on your Ps and Qs, and the next man is, you’re going to look embarrassed," Mathis said. "We had some embarrassing plays that shouldn’t have happened.
"When it comes back to it, it wasn’t just a man beaten. It was missed tackles. Being technique sound."
Mathis believes those things are fixable, though.
"That’s what playoff teams do," he said. "They fix those mistakes and move on."
The only problem is that it looks like a pretty big job at this point.
There are lots of plays, or sequence of plays, the Lions can point to and wonder what if things had played out differently.
Case in point, the final drive of the first half.
The Lions were up 24-20 and had a first down at the Steelers 1-yard line with 21 second left in the half. Quarterback
"It’s my least favorite situation," Stafford said. "You can’t run it. You’re on the one-foot line, they know you can’t run it, because if they stop you then the quarter or the half runs out."
Stafford was forced to pass it three straight times, and didn’t complete one.
"They can drop eight guys in the end zone," he said. "It’s not a fun feeling. They did a great job of holding us there. I have to give them credit, they played well on defense when they needed to."
It ended up being a four-point stand for the Steelers as the Lions kicked the field goal and went up 27-20.
"I thought that was big," Schwartz said. "At the end tough if you ran the ball it was sort of an all or nothing. We were either going to get in or weren’t going to be able to get a field goal out of it. It forced us to throw it and they did a good job defending it.
"I thought that was a key point in the game. We had the lead, we had a chance to really extend that lead and we missed that opportunity."