Black Monday in NFL:

Lions' Schwartz defends failed fake field goal

The SportsXchange

ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- With one sentence uttered toward the end of his Monday press conference, Detroit Lions coach Jim Schwartz put a nice, concise bow around the debate over the team's failed fake field-goal attempt Sunday in a 37-27 loss in Pittsburgh.

"The only way to be right is to win," he said.

The call may have been made for all the right reasons. It may have been well-scouted, practiced and planned. The situation may have occurred just as they drew it up. The play may have unfolded just as they envisioned.

In the end, it failed. And when it fails, as former Ravens coach Brian Billick said during the broadcast on Fox Sports, "You make the right decision, you're brilliant. If you don't, you're the village idiot."

Schwartz defended his decision to fake what would have been a 28-yard field-goal try that would have put the Lions up by seven points early in the fourth quarter. He said if a similar opportunity presents itself on special teams Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, he would do it again.

"Everybody (in the Lions' locker room) knows why we called it and why we practiced it," he said. "We really don't care what anybody else's feeling is. We got the look that we wanted. We thought it was there. We didn't execute it great."

It was the third time in the game the Lions lined up for a field goal. In all three attempts, the Steelers used an unbalanced alignment, with six defenders on one side and four on the other, with a safety in back. Pittsburgh also was crashing hard off the edge.

On the play, the Lions blew open the left side of the Steelers' front and holder Sam Martin, who picked up the snap and ran, had a lane to the end zone. However, Steelers defensive tackle Steve McLendon, coming from the weak side, broke through the block of long snapper Don Muhlbach and destroyed the play.

"We have a chance right there to really put a dagger in that game and go up 11," Schwartz said. "We didn't get it done. We still had a chance to get them stopped, and even if we gave up a drive, we had confidence in our offense being able to come back and score. We didn't do any of those things."

The players, almost to a man, backed the decision.

"We have all kinds of different wrinkles we can decide to use at different times depending on the looks that we see," Lions kicker David Akers said. "They were bringing it hard off the edge, and we thought we could slide up in between some of the guys there. Coach Schwartz is very aggressive, and it was one of those things -- yeah, you can hit the three (field goal) there. Most people would have thought we would kick it.

"But this was game-planned, and if it was there, let's go ahead and run it. Seven points would have made a big difference there."

Martin said after the game, "You can't play with scared money."

The Lions haven't played scared all season.

At Washington in Week 3, the Lions were up by three and faced a fourth-and-1 from the Redskins 12. They went for it, got the first down on a sneak by quarterback Matthew Stafford and went on to score the clinching touchdown.

Against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 8, Stafford, with time running out, faked spiking the ball and stuck it over the goal line for the winning score. If that play fails, the Lions may not have got another play off.

"If you have quarterbacks that are afraid to throw interceptions, you're never going to complete any passes," Schwartz said. "If you have defensive backs that are afraid to give up passes, you'll probably never make an interception. I think the same thing goes for coaching.

"If you're afraid about what might happen, you're never going to make a call. We were confident in our call, and it didn't work."

Schwartz was defiant immediately after the game, telling reporters, "You can say whatever you want about me, but don't say I'm scared because we ain't. This team is going to be aggressive."
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