Blogs > Lions Lowdown

One thing you can count on with the Detroit Lions is that they are never, ever boring. Follow the latest news including injuries, roster moves and more here daily from Oakland Press beat writer Paula Pasche. Plus you'll find regular commentary about the team.


It's time for NFL, NFLPA to get serious

With the March 3 deadline approaching, NFL fans got good news today when the NFL and NFLPA announced they have agreed to talk starting on Saturday, the day before the Super Bowl.

The two sides haven’t had meaningful talks in months, so it’s a step in the right direction.

The statement issued by both sides said: “NFL Players Association Executive Director DeMaurice Smith and Commissioner Roger Goodell met today in New York to discuss a range of issues related to a new Collective Bargaining Agreement. As part of a process to intensify negotiations, they agreed to hold a formal bargaining session with both negotiating teams on Saturday in the Dallas area. They also agreed to a series of meetings over the next few weeks, both formal bargaining sessions and smaller group meetings, in an effort to reach a new agreement by early March.”

If a new agreement is not reached there’s a possibility the owners will lock out the players.

The NFL is so wildly popular that Sunday’s Pro Bowl game drew monster ratings -- the biggest since 2000. The TV ratings were surprising because as they say there’s nothing like good football and that was nothing like good football.

Perhaps that’s the impetus to get back to the bargaining table. Both sides know the NFL and its players would take a hit if the season is shortened or not held at all.

(Follow me on Twitter @PaulaPasche.)

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Services set for father of Lions QB Shaun Hill

Tragedy has hit the Lions’ family.

Ted Hill, the father of Lions quarterback Shaun Hill, died Saturday afternoon at St. John’s Medical Center in Springfield, Mo., following a fall while working on his son’s home at the Land of the Ozarks.

Hill, who was 60, had coached girls and boys basketball at Parsons (Kan.) High School.

The past two years he has been Title III project director at Labette Community College.

A funeral will be held Thursday.

Memorials are suggested to the Parsons Area Community Foundation. They may be left at or sent to the Carson-Wall funeral home at Box 942, Parsons, KS 67357. Online condolences may be left at

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Suh's shoulder injury dated back to Nebraska

Ndamukong Suh’s shoulder injury didn’t occur during his rookie season with the Detroit Lions.

Instead it was an old injury the defensive tackle had lived with since playing at Nebraska, according to a story in Thursday’s Portland (Ore.) Tribune.

Suh had successful surgery on his right shoulder two weeks ago.

“I hurt it at the end of my senior year at Nebraska,” Suh told the Tribune. “Funny, it didn’t really affect me. Something didn’t feel right, but it wasn’t that big a deal. I just continued to play.”

Even though he was voted in as a Pro Bowl starter, he had the surgery done two weeks ago to give him more time to rehab prior to the upcoming season. He’s expected to be in Hawaii for Sunday night’s Pro Bowl, but just to watch.

It was a surprise when it was announced on Jan. 5 that he was having surgery because there never appeared to be a time when he was injured while starting all 16 games.

Suh was the only rookie named to the Associated Press All-Pro team this week. On Feb. 4 he’s a favorite to be named the rookie defensive player of the year.

Imagine what he might be like next season with a healthy shoulder.

(Follow me on Twitter @PaulaPasche.)

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Super Bowl XLV: The 'mane' question

Here’s the real question for Super Bowl week: Will Green Bay’s Clay Matthews find a hair sponsor?

It’s unbelievable he must buy his own hair products.

In a national conference call last week, Matthews sought help in that department.

"It's unfortunate," he said. "I've been throwing it out there and just getting shunned. I don't know what it is. I need to talk to (Troy Polamalu) and see if I can join that (Head & Shoulders) campaign. America, I'm looking for a hair deal." The real hair wars will start when Green Bay and Pittsburgh fly into Dallas next week in preparation for the Super Bowl on Feb. 6.

Let’s take a preview look.

Two of the NFL’s best “hair” men -- the Packers’ Matthews and Pittsburgh’s Polamalu -- will meet on the field. Well, since they both play defense, they won’t exactly line up across from each other.

But do you think in pre-game warmups they’ll have a few words, shake hands and compare hair products?

Polamalu is sponsored by Head & Shoulders, while Matthews is on his own.

I’m just saying it’s a possibility.

I find it a little odd Matthews doesn’t have a sponsor. Even Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford has cashed in with Axe hair products for his curly mane. But his curls don’t begin to compare with Matthews.

In a very unscientific Twitter/Facebook poll this week, there was a gender split in the vote on whether Polamalu or Matthews had the better hair. Men went for Polamalu’s locks while women couldn’t help themselves and voted for Matthews.

It’s the story within the story about the hair within the helmets.

You want to know who’s going to win the game? Stay tuned.

(Follow me on Twitter @PaulaPasche.)

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In case of lockout, 569 NFL players could feel immediate pinch

In the next 10 days leading up to Super Bowl XLV expect to hear much about a possible NFL lockout. No negotiations are scheduled between the owners and the NFLPA with the current collective bargaining agreement set to expire on March 3.

It’s a very distinct possibility that there could be a lockout. It could be relatively short or it could impact the 2011 season. Of course no one knows for certain. The owners want more of the pie. They’ve also talked about adding two regular season games to bring the total to 18.

Some think the players won’t feel the pinch until September because they get their paychecks during the 17-week season. But that does not include free agent signing bonuses.

On Thursday NFL officials met with 10 NFL writers, including Gregg Rosenthal of, to explain their side.

Here’s an interesting tidbit, per Rosenthal: “By the league’s estimate, 569 players will be affected in March by a lockout. Of those, 495 players are scheduled to be free agents in 2011, with the assumption that the league goes back to a system where four accrued seasons are needed to become a free agent. That number includes 170 starters and 70 Pro Bowl players.

“It will be the biggest free-agent class ever, and it will have the highest percentage of starters available ever. They also counted 74 players with roster or option bonuses due in March, which have a total of $143.5 million due to those players.’’

In other words 569 players will feel the pinch sooner rather than later.

It’s going to be interesting to see it all unfold. A New York Times profile on Sunday of NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith, started out with the words: “We are at war!” That’s how Smith addressed 20 NFL players who had been elected to represent their teammates at the beginning of a recent meeting, according to the Times.

If you’re an NFL fan those are not exactly the words you want to hear before negotiations heat up.

Watch this blog for updates as the process unfolds.

(Follow me on Twitter @PaulaPasche.)

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Will Lions fans ever take Suh for granted?

During Barry Sanders final season with the Lions, I wrote a column questioning whether Lions fans and media took him for granted. He was so good, so consistent that if he didn’t run for 100 yards he was having a bad day. His moves alone were worth the price of admission.

Do you think that might happen with defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh? He’s been so good as a rookie, that perhaps if he doesn’t get a sack per game next season heads will be shaking. It’s usually quite different on the defensive side of the ball. But Suh stands out.

For fans who saw him move bodies around in the middle for 16 games this season, his post-season honors should be no surprise. But remember he’s a member of the Lions who have not been to the playoffs since 1999. Often times players on losing teams are overlooked. Can you say Calvin Johnson?

That’s what makes Suh’s honors so significant. Remember he’s the only rookie starter named to the Pro Bowl and the only rookie on AP’s All-Pro team.

He could have another honor coming his way on Feb. 4 when the AP will names its defensive and offensive rookies of the year.

Suh should be in the mix with Patriots cornerback Devin McCourty and Cleveland Browns cornerback Joe Haden.

The AP awards will be spread throughout the week leading up to Super Bowl XLV in Dallas. They will be announced at 7 p.m. each night on NFL Total Access on the NFL Network. The season’s MVP will be announced during the pre-game show on Super Bowl Sunday.

Suh should have a good chance to pick up this hardware too. If he doesn’t we’ll be a little surprised, not that we’re taking anything for granted.

(Follow me on Twitter @PaulaPasche.)

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Report: Arrest warrant denied for Lions player

An arrest warrant for a Detroit Lions player has been denied by the Wayne County prosecutor's office according to a report from via the player's attorney, Jay Colvin. The player was accused of inappropriate touching of a physical nature.

The incident occurred in the early morning hours of Jan. 4 at a bar in Plymouth. The names of the accused or accuser, a 22-year-old woman, have not been released.

"We've asked the names be redacted from any Freedom of Information request. We believe there's precedent in the law,'' Colvin told "We hope that the complainant's counsel adheres to his initial statements that his client wanted no attention or publicity and the recent threat of a civil suit is reconsidered.''

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Follett on Stafford: First calls him china doll, then compares him to Dan Marino

Here we go. Lions linebacker Zack Follett called quarterback Matthew Stafford a "china doll" during an ESPN radio interview in Fresno on Tuesday. Later in the day during a Detroit radio interview Follett explained himself and, in fact, compared Stafford to Dan Marino.

"It was just kind of my personal opinion. It's the luck of the draw, he's had bad luck. I have do doubt that he can come and play a full season, he's a tough kid. I'll tell you right now I'm glad we have Matthew Stafford instead of the Bears quarterback (Jay Cutler) because he goes in and plays with separated shoulders in some games,'' Follett told a Detroit radio station.

"It definitely wasn't a knock on him, we just want to get him healthy,'' Follett continued. "He's a competitor and I'm not saying that he's not, I think he's proved that. He's had some bad luck early in his career.

"If we get him healthy I'd compare him to Dan Marino as far as his arm strength and accuracy. I'm just excited to get him back on the field,'' Follett said.

Stafford unexpectedly had shoulder surgery on Friday and is expected to make a full recovery. Afterward his surgeon, Dr. James Andrews, said "I am confident he will be as strong as ever."

Stafford started just three games this past season due to two right/throwing shoulder injuries. In his rookie season in 2009 Stafford started 10 of 16 games because of shoulder and knee injuries.

In one memorable win over Cleveland in 2009, he got up off the turf on the sidelines, surrounded by doctors, got back in the game and proceeded to win it with a touchdown pass even though his left/non-throwing shoulder was separated.

His toughness has never been questioned by his teammates. And it sounds like Follett didn't mean it that way.

In the earlier radio interview Follett said: "Stafford's a good guy. He’s a china doll right now. Anytime he gets hit, he goes down. But the kid is, hopefully, it’s just patiently waiting for him, because the kid is an awesome talent. He has a tremendous arm. The throws that he makes during practice when no one can touch him, he looks like an All-American quarterback, but put him in a game, and you hit his shoulder. So hopefully, say a couple prayers, keep him healthy next year, and the Lions can do some damage in the NFC.”

Follett was knocked out for the season during the Oct. 17 game at the Giants when he had to be carter off the field on a backboard. He told reporters on Jan. 3 that he is still undergoing rehab and is uncertain if he'll be able to play football again.

(Follow me on Twitter @PaulaPasche.)

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Lions' Suh only rookie to be named to AP All-Pro team

Ndamukong Suh's efforts through his rookie season did not go unnoticed. The Lions defensive tackle was named a Pro Bowl starter weeks ago.

His latest honor was being named to the Associated Press All-Pro team on Monday. He was the only rookie selected and is the first rookie defensive lineman to be named to the All-Pro team since Jevon Kearse in 1999.

"It's humbling and encouraging at the same time. Kearse is a well-known player and was a proven player over time, so hopefully I can live up to the standard he set. I was fortunate to be able to grasp my role in our scheme and to flourish in it. I'm just going to keep working hard to improve because I'll never be satisfied,'' Suh told the Associated Press.

He is the first first-year defensive tackle to be named All-Pro since Wally Chambers in 1973 and just the eighth in NFL history.

Suh, who led the teams with 10 sacks, set goals for himself for his rookie season and said being All-Pro was one of them.

"It's a great honor and it's an award I've had my eye on along with being in the Pro Bowl. Those are two of the highest accomplishments you can have other than winning a Super Bowl and being MVP. To be the only rookie speaks volumes about the help I got from my teammates --especially on the defensive line -- and my coaches,'' Suh said.

Suh underwent shoulder surgery two weeks ago. He's splitting his time in the offseason between Lincoln, Neb., where he's doing most of his shoulder rehab, along with Houston and Portland, Ore. He's not sure when he will be back to 100 percent.

"It's tough to put a timetable on it because all bodies are different and they respond differently to injuries,'' Suh told the Associated Press.

The Lions announced on Jan. 5 that Suh would forego playing in the Pro Bowl so he could have the surgery and get going on the rehab right away. He could have delayed surgery and played in the Pro Bowl.

"It's going to be tough to not play, but I made the decision to put my team ahead of myself and I don't regret that for one minute,'' Suh said.

Suh was one of three Lions to undergo offseason shoulder surgery. Quarterback Matthew Stafford's right shoulder was operated on last week. Cornerback Chris Houston was also expected to undergo shoulder surgery.

If a new collective bargaining agreement is reached by the March 4 deadline, the Lions would start their offseason workouts in mid-March.

(Paula Pasche covers the Lions. Follow her on Twitter @PaulaPasche.)

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NFL players blast Bears' Jay Cutler via Twitter

Jay Cutler, the Chicago Bears quarterback may have severely injured his knee in the first half of Sunday's 21-14 loss to the Packers, but he got no sympathy from current and former NFL players who were flooding the Twitter waves with disrespect.

It's a new age in social media. The criticism doesn't come after the game, it comes during it. And it was amazing to see it all unfold while sitting on my couch, following Twitter on my Blackberry and watching the game on television.

Used to be you would depend on TV announcers to give you the storylines. Thanks to Twitter, which offers immediate impact, it is all different now.

The critical tweets came from guys like Deion Sanders, Desmond Howard, Derrick Brooks and others.

Here are a few examples of tweets sent during the game:

From Maurice Jones-Drew (Jacksonville Jaguars): "Hey I think the Urban Meyer rule is in effect right now ... When the going gets tough ... QUIT." (Nice double-swipe of Cutler and Meyer in 140 characters or less.)

From Darnell Dockett (Arizona Cardinals): "If I'm on Chicago team Jay Cutler has to wait till me and the team shower get dresseda and leave before he can come in the locker room! #FACT"

From Deion Sanders: “Im telling u in the playoffs u must drag me off the field. All the medicine in pro lockerooms this dude comes out! I apologize bear fans! . . . Folks i never question a players injury but i do question a players heart.''

Media tweeters -- national and Detroit-area writers including me -- were joining in the discussion.

In fact, in his post-game press conference Cutler was asked what he thought about so much criticism from his contemporaries on Twitter. He made reference to the fact they were jealous because he was still playing. Fans were tweeting too and even sent a Twit pic of Cutler jerseys being set on fire in the Soldier Field parking lot.

If Cutler's knee is a serious injury, some folks are going to be looking pretty silly. But it's understandable because of what they garnered from past experience in the NFL and also from looking at Cutler's body language. He didn't look exactly upset being on the bench.

In the Steelers-Jets game, it carried over. When it appeared Mark Sanchez was injured, someone tweeted it would be a good time for an injury. He was right back in the game.

But Sanchez did get burned by Twitter. Early in the game while on the sidelines, he picked his nose and wiped the booger on Mark Brunell's shirt. Don't believe me? There are Twitter videos.

If you've thought about getting on Twitter, what have you been waiting for? It's free and a blast. It makes the action just a little more fun, no matter the sport. You'll get info you never get from TV and you can express your opinions too. It will be my first Super Bowl with Twitter. Can't wait.

(Follow me on Twitter @PaulaPasche.)

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It's tough to pick against the Packers

Who would have thought a sixth-seed could be favored to make it to the Super Bowl, but that's exactly what is going on with the Green Bay Packers. Defense may win championships, but it doesn't hurt to have a quarterback either. Aaron Rodgers may have found the perfect time to play the best football of his career. Rodgers is the reason I see the Packers headed to Dallas on Feb. 6 to represent the NFC. Packers 24-17.

So if you go with Rodgers over Jay Cutler in the NFC, who gets the nod in the AFC? The Steelers have already won a Super Bowl (in Detroit) with Ben Roethlisberger having an awful game. But the guy is a scrapper. The Jets' Mark Sanchez is 4-1 in the playoffs with all those games being on the road. For this one I'm going with the J-E-T-S winning 21-14.

Can't wait. Nothing like Championship Sunday.

One note to the Fox TV folks, would it kill you to show the national anthem on Sunday from Soldier Field? Jim Cornelison, the anthem singer who got the Blackhawks the Stanley Cup last season, will be singing. In the season opener against Detroit, he made his debut at Solider Field and was a huge hit. The fans stood and cheered loudly throughout just like they do at the United Center. I only know this because I was there and it was a treat. Just a thought.

(Follow me on Twitter @PaulaPasche.)

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Monday exam led to surgery for Lions' Stafford

Even immediately after the season Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford did not expect to undergo shoulder surgery.At least that is what he said. But that all changed with his most recent examination on Monday.

Stafford underwent successful surgery on his right/throwing shoulder on Friday. It was done by noted orthopedic specialist Dr. James Andrews at the Andrews Institute in Pensacola, Fla. It was announced by the Lions late Friday afternoon.

In a statement Andrews said: “Matthew’s procedure (AC joint repair) today was very successful. It went very well. We now have plenty of time for a full recovery in order for him to get ready for next season. The procedure is the same one that we have successfully performed on a number of NFL quarterbacks. Matthew has one of the strongest arms in the League and I am confident that he will be as strong as ever.”

Stafford injured his shoulder in the opener at Chicago on Sept. 12 and then again against the Jets on Nov. 7. He was out for the remainder of the season.

“After Matt hurt his shoulder in the Jets game he was examined by both our medical staff and Dr. Andrews. There was a consensus at the time to proceed with a rehabilitation program and not to have surgery,'' coach Jim Schwartz said in a statement.

“Subsequent evaluations toward the end of the season by our staff and Dr. Andrews also confirmed that Matt had been making good progress with his rehab. But after Matt’s most recent visit to Dr. Andrews, it was determined by Dr. Andrews that Matt’s healing process could be enhanced by undergoing surgery at this time,'' Schwartz added.

The coach said that continuing the rehab program without surgery was still an option, but Stafford decided to have the surgery now so he will have plenty of time to recover and rehab before this coming season.

“We have full confidence that Matt will be 100 percent before the start of training camp,'' Schwartz said.

Stafford, the top overall pick in the 2009 draft, has been hampered with injuries for his first two seasons. In the 2009 season he was able to start just 10 games due to a left shoulder and a knee injury.

In the 2010 season he started three games. He was injured just before halftime in the opener and didn't play again until Oct 31. He picked up the win against the Redskins that day, then was injured in the second half of the game against the Jets.

(Follow me on Twitter @PaulaPasche.)

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Lions' Delmas recognized for charitable work

Lions safety Louis Delmas makes plenty of noise on the field, but now he will be recognized for his work off the field.

Delmas wil be honored at the inaugural Unsung Athlete Awards Gala on Feb. 3, the Thursday prior to the Super Bowl in Dallas.

Fifteen NFL professional athletes, current and retired will be honored for their inconspicuous yet outstanding service provided through their individual charities. Braylon Edwards of the N.Y. Jets, who played at Michigan, will also be honored.

“I am very honored to be recognized for my achievements off the field, and to be selected with an elite group of current and past NFL athletes makes me appreciate the award even more. Although I play in the NFL, I will never forget about my struggles before getting to where I am today, and to receive an award for something that comes naturally is greatly appreciated” Delmas said.

The awards gala has been coordinated by TPM Charity Events Management and the Retired Professional Football Players of Dallas to honor and celebrate the community efforts of NFL players off the field.

(Follow me on Twitter @PaulaPasche.)

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Obama's prediction could lead to loss of electoral votes in Wisconsin

This shouldn't come as much surprise to Lions fans, but the NFC North is tied with the AFC West for least representation in the Super Bowl since the divisions were realigned in 2002.

Chicago represented the NFC North in 2006 while the Raiders made an appearance in 2002.

That's pretty pathetic in these days of NFL parity. Don't you think?

Perhaps that's why the Packers at Chicago for the NFC Championship is such a huge deal in these parts and across the country -- all the way to Washington, D.C.

President Obama, who calls Chicago home, predicts the Bears will beat the Packers 20-17. So much for those 10 electoral votes from Wisconsin. Think Packers fans will forget? Probably not.

If the Bears do make it to the Super Bowl in Dallas on Feb. 6, Obama plans to attend which will lead to a logistical nightmare at the beautiful Cowboys Stadium.

Perhaps we should add an amendment to the Constitution that no sitting president is allowed to attend the Super Bowl because of the security details and the sure-fire traffic tie-ups.

Just saying.

(Follow me on Twitter @PaulaPasche.)

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No settlement expected in case involving Lions player

No settlement of any type is in the works regarding an alleged incident involving a Detroit Lions player at a Plymouth bar.

Jay Colvin, the player's attorney, told that his client is adamant that the event never occurred.

A 22-year-old woman accused the player of "inappropriate contact" during the early morning hours of Jan. 4 at the Ironwood Grill in Plymouth.

Plymouth police Chief Al Cox told The Associated Press on Wednesday his department has turned over the investigation's findings to the Wayne County prosecutor's office. A spokeswoman there, Maria Miller, said the office is reviewing a warrant request.

The decision could take days or weeks.

"We're confident a warrant will be denied. If the matter were to become a civil action we would counter-sue for defamation,'' Colvin told

Cox wouldn't identify the player in question, but said he has been "totally co-operative" and "made himself very available" during the investigation.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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Lions Nation supports Packers over Bears

The ballots are in. In a purely unscientific poll conducted mostly on Twitter and Facebook, Lions fans have made their sentiments known. During Sunday’s NFC Championship game 83 percent of them will be rooting for the Green Bay Packers over the Chicago Bears.

Who knew there was such a dislike for the Bears? One tweet said: “Pack hands down, they actually deserve to be in the championship game.”

One tweeter said he can’t stand Chicago's Jay Cutler and truly enjoyed watching Aaron Rodgers beat the Falcons on Saturday night. In fact, several fans sided with Green Bay because they like Rodgers.

Another said he thought the Packers had the best chance to beat the AFC -- and he prefers the Steelers on that side. “I despise the Jets,’’ Gary said.

Then the true feelings of some came out and this may be the real reason why Lions fans can’t go with Chicago: “Bears are over-rated and stole one from us in Week 1.”

He’s of course referring to Calvin Johnson’s non-touchdown catch at Soldier Field that cost the Lions the season-opening game and perhaps changed the course of the season.

Deep down, you know it’s still eating at Lions’ fans and perhaps a few Lions too.

(Follow me on Twitter @PaulaPasche.)

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Jets' Scott has new target in Tom Brady

Bart Scott, the New York Jets linebacker, has quite a mouth. Even after his Jets win games.

Lions fans should remember after the Jets beat the Lions in November (23-20 in overtime), Scott came out afterward and said the Lions play dirty. It’s the NFL, a little dirty is a good thing for a team trying to win a football game.

The Lions shrugged it off without much respect for Scott’s opinion.

After the Jets bounced the New England Patriots out of the playoffs on Sunday, Scott went off on Tom Brady and the media.

“This was the quarterback that couldn’t get touched,” Scott told reporters, via the Boston Herald. “(The media) talk all about how great he’s playing, but what Rex (Ryan) pulled out for us was his last three playoff games — what his record was and what his rating was then. He had a 66 quarterback rating in his last four or five playoff games and you guys didn’t believe that. You guys didn’t look deep enough into the notes.”

Brady did have a less than stellar game (29 of 45, 299 yards, two TDs, one interception and he was sacked five times). The Jets defense did a great job making sure he couldn’t find an open receiver, hence the five sacks. Mark Sanchez, who is now 4-1 in the playoffs threw three touchdowns, zero interceptions and was not sacked at all.

Usually there are good winners and bad losers. Scott has established a new category -- whiny winners.

(Follow me on Twitter @PaulaPasche.)

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Will the Lions be in playoff mix next year?

You can try to pin down Lions coach Jim Schwartz on his team’s playoff chances next year, but you won’t succeed. He’s too smart for that.

Same goes with asking him if the Lions are close to overtaking the NFC North and making the playoffs next year. Green Bay plays at Atlanta Saturday night while Chicago is at home to the surprising Seattle Seahawks on Sunday afternoon.

"I mean, we’ll see next year. You can’t say that now. Those teams are still playing, we’re not. There’s a lot of offseason, there’s a lot of training camp, there’s preseason games, there’s all that different stuff. Our goals and things like that are not really important right now. But how we go in the offseason and how we develop and things like that,’’ Schwartz said.

While he’s not a big believer in carryover from one year to the next he does see value in ending the season with four straight wins.

“I think that we have set the table. Now it’s up to us to run that table rather than to just count on the momentum coming from the end of this year,’’ Schwartz said.

(Follow me on Twitter @PaulaPasche.)

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Does close count in games against playoff teams?

If you look at the Lions’ record against playoff teams which was 1-6, there is only one conclusion -- there’s a long way to go for the team that finished the season 6-10.

One positive way to spin it is that the Lions beat the Packers in the final quarter of the season. And that is a bit of a stretch.

But wait a minute, check the scores. Five of the six losses to playoff teams were by 5 points or less -- the only big loss was 45-24 to the Patriots.

Does that mean anything?

We won’t know until a year from now.

If the Lions are truly growing, learning from mistakes and figuring out how to win, they must contend in the playoffs next year.

(Follow me on Twitter @PaulaPasche.)

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Do the Lions owe Tom Brady a big thanks?

Do the Lions owe Tom Brady and the Patriots a big thank you?

The Patriots needed a fourth-quarter push to beat the Lions 45-24 on Thanksgiving. It was the Lions’ biggest defeat during their 6-10 season. Seven of their 10 losses were by 8 points or less.

Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh calls that the “breaking point.’’ After that loss, the Lions 24-20 to Chicago and it was their final loss of the season.

“At that breaking point, at the Thanksgiving game, that’s more or less (when we) started to learn how to finish and learned exactly how close we are to being able to take those wins and figuring out what we had to get done with our own selves,’’ Suh said. “It wasn’t always the other teams affecting us and the way they play, we played a lot of great teams, playoff teams as you can see, but I think at that point we learned how to finish.’’

And that was the key, the breaking point if you will.

(Follow me on Twitter @PaulaPasche.)

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Lions' Mayhew prepares for every scenario

With a potential lockout of NFL players looming, this could be anything but a normal season for NFL general managers.

Lions GM Martin Mayhew is preparing for every scenario. This isn’t surprising if you’ve seen him operate the last two seasons.

Questions linger about salary cap and how many seasons it will take to become a free agent. That’s just the beginning.

Mayhew won’t comment on specifics regarding a possible lockout, but talked about preparation just in case.

“What it means is we have to prepare for every eventuality and for every scenario. It means do more work in terms of preparation, and we’re fine with that, we’re doing that,’’ Mayhew said.

“We’re prepared for whatever the system is, we plan on being ready for it and being able to implement a strategy for it. It’s a little more work for us be we’re up to the task,’’ he added.

For more on the potential lockout and Lions’ reaction to it, see story and video at (Follow me on Twitter @PaulaPasche.)

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Seahawks' connection to Lions easy to trace

The Seahawks shocked many NFL fans by knocking off the New Orleans Saints, the Super Bowl defending champions, over the weekend.

It’s even more surprising when you consider the talent they have shipped or lost to Detroit in the last two seasons.

When left guard Rob Sims was traded to Detroit from Seattle in the offseason he marveled at how thrilled he was to get back to football country. After all, in Seattle all they do is drink coffee. OK, drink coffee and win wild card playoff games.

Sims is one of seven Lions on the roster who came to Detroit either in a trade or signed with the Lions as a free agent out of Seattle in the past two years.

Along with Sims, they include: WR Nate Burleson (free agent 2010), RB Maurice Morris (free agent 2009), TE Will Heller (free agent 2009), DE Lawrence Jackson (trade 2010), LB Julian Peterson (traded 2009) and QB Zac Robinson who was picked up off waivers in November to provide backup for the Lions’ injured quarterbacks.

It’s quite a connection.

Lions general manager Martin Mayhew traces it back to Tim Ruskell, the Seahawks general manager who resigned toward the end of the 2009 season and is now the Bears’ director of player personnel.

Ruskell and Mayhew had worked together in Tampa.

“We liked the same kind of players,’’ Mayhew said.

No doubt.

(Follow me on Twitter @PaulaPasche.)

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Without question, Lions want to re-sign Houston

One of Martin Mayhew’s best offseason moves prior to the 2010 season was making a trade with the Falcons for cornerback Chris Houston. All the Lions general manager had to give up was a sixth-round pick and a conditional seventh-round pick.

Perhaps it was his bargain of the year.

Now he wants to re-sign the 26-year-old Houston who will be entering his fifth season in the NFL. Because a new collective bargaining agreement has not been reached which means a possible lockout, re-signing Houston is a little more complicated than it would be in a normal offseason

Houston started 15 games and finished with 56 tackles, an interception and a forced fumble. He could not play in the final game after injuring his shoulder in Miami on Dec. 26 and will undergo shoulder surgery in the offseason.

“Chris did a great job for us, he’s a great pickup, He’s sort of like Drew (Stanton) in terms of we don’t know what his contract status is, whether we have the ability to tender him or not,’’ Mayhew said. “We’re preparing to tender him or deal with him and make him an offer. That’s a guy we definitely want back.’’

(Follow me on Twitter @PaulaPasche.)

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Mayhew: Lions broke free of losing momentum

After finishing with a four-game win streak and a 6-10 season, are the Lions over the hump? Have they turned the corner? There is some debate about that.

General manager Martin Mayhew has weighed in with his perspective. He doesn’t know what the key was to the turn-around or he would have fixed it two years ago, but he likes the results.

“I just think it’s the kind of thing, when you build that kind of momentum as a team, winning momentum like the Steelers have and the Patriots have, they know how to win football games,’’ Mayhew said. “And you can build losing momentum the same way. And we had built that up over a long period of time and I think we finally broke free of that.’’

So that would be a yes. No more hump talk, at least for now.

(Follow me on Twitter @PaulaPasche.)

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Lions kicker Jason Hanson not certain to return

Kicker Jason Hanson is not a lock to return to the Lions for his 20th season even though he has two years remaining on his contract. Lions general manager Martin Mayhew said kicker is one of the roster positions that has not been set for the 2011 season.

Hanson underwent knee surgery for his second straight training camp in August and then was forced out for the remainder of the season with a knee sprain that happened on Nov. 7.

The 40-year-old kicker has played 19 years with the Lions.

Dave Rayner (Michigan State, Oxford High) was signed and kicked well in the final eight games including two pressure field goals to win the game in overtime in Tampa and a 55-yarder in Sunday’s win over the Vikings.

Well enough to replace Hanson?

“I don’t know if I would say fight for his job. (Hanson) is probably a first-ballot Hall of Fame type of kicker,’’ Mayhew said. “He’s had a lot of success here, he had a tough run with injuries this season and we’re still sort of formulating our plans for the roster this year at a lot of different positions, but kicker is one of them.’’ (Follow me on Twitter @PaulaPasche.)

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Suh to have surgery, out of Pro Bowl; Peterson will not return

ALLEN PARK -- Lions rookie defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh will undergo shoulder surgery on Monday which will keep him out of the Pro Bowl. General manager Martin Mayhew made the announcement early Wednesday evening.

Mayhew would not give any specifics on when the shoulder was injured or even which shoulder.

Suh, who had 10 sacks this season, had been voted as a starter to the Pro Bowl along with wide receiver Calvin Johnson. He will still attend the Pro Bowl to support Johnson.

“My thinking (on surgery) was just to make sure I was 100-percent healthy going into the off-season program and to be ready for March and so forth,” Suh said. “I truly wanted to play in the Pro Bowl, which is a great honor and opportunity.

“It came down to making a decision to play in the Pro Bowl or to have surgery as soon as possible and begin rehab in order to help my team next year achieve our goals of getting into the playoffs and competing for a championship. The organization and I opted to have the surgery now and not wait. I will always put my team first,’’ he added.

Suh is one of several Lions to undergo offseason surgery. Cornerback Chris Houston will also have shoulder surgery, while safety Louis Delmas and linebacker DeAndre Levy will both have groin surgery.

Mayhew also confirmed that linebacker Julian Peterson will not return.

(Follow me on Twitter @PaulaPasche.)

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Follett's football future remains uncertain

ALLEN PARK -- Zack Follett’s football future remains uncertain two and a half months since he was carted off the Meadowlands Stadium football field after a helmet-to-helmet hit that caused him to temporarily lose feeling in his arms and legs.

The Lions starting outside linebacker has a bulging disc in his neck.

“When I got hurt (the disc) tapped my spinal cord. They call it cervical tap that’s why I lost feeling, but doing the rehab and correcting posture could help the disc retract,’’ Follett said. “Right now there’s not much room in-between the disc and the spinal cord which is kind of a scary thing.’’

He’s undergoing rehab and hoping for the best.

“I do know football isn’t life but it’s something I’d like to do,’’ said Follett who was in his second season with the Lions.

Follett said it feels better now that he’s not taking any hits, but an MRI in the next few months could be the determining factor about his future.

“I’m staying optimistic, I’ve talked to the coaches they want me back, I want to be back,’’ Follett said. “This team next season feels like it’s going to be a great year so I want to do everything I can.’’

(Follow Follett on Twitter @ZakarianFollett. Follow me @PaulaPasche.)

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Could 13 be lucky for the Lions?

ALLEN PARK -- Coach Jim Schwartz has been so busy with post-season duties he wasn’t aware until Monday’s 3 p.m. press conference that the Lions had the 13th draft pick. He did know it was either 13th or 14th.

It’s a relief for the club because in the last two years they’ve had the top pick (Matthew Stafford) and the second pick (Ndamukong Suh). Both have been quality players, but both came with a steep price tag too.

"It’s easy to have a list when you’re picking No 2. You can say ‘who’s the best player in the draft? Let’s take him.’ When you’re picking No. 2, you say, ‘OK, who are the two best players in the draft?’ You can’t miss. By definition you’re going to get one of those two guys,’’ Schwartz said. “Thirteen, obviously you’re going to have to have 13. Its spread a little bit more thin, but I think that’s good.’’

Not to mention cheaper.

(Follow me on Twitter @PaulaPasche.)

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After injury-plagued season, 3 Lions face surgery

ALLEN PARK -- Never used as an excuse, injuries played a key factor in the Lions (6-10) season this year. Sixteen Lions ended the season on injured reserve.

In a weird way, maybe dealing with the injuries will help the Lions heading into the future because they were able to play younger guys, and pick guys off the waiver wire who could become an integral part of the team starting next season.

“It was obviously an issue to overcome. We didn’t always do a good job with it, but at the end of the year we’re probably in a little better place in some positions because of the injuries we’ve had ,’’ coach Jim Schwartz said on Monday. “We know a little more about some younger players and we’re a little more prepared to deal with things like that in the future.’’

Three Lions will undergo surgery soon. Linebacker DeAndre Levy and safety Louis Delmas will each have groin surgery while cornerback Chris Houston will have shoulder surgery.

Quarterback Matthew Stafford said he should be close to 100 percent in the next month.

Schwartz anticipates a full recovery for Kyle Vanden Bosch who had surgery on a bulging disc in his neck.

“He’s already chomping at the bit, he was lifting weights 12 hours after the surgery or whatever it was,’’ Schwartz said.

Linebacker Zack Follett, who injured his neck on Oct. 17, is still going through treatment and is hopeful to return to football. He expects to have an MRI within the next two months which will give him a better idea.

Quarterback Shaun Hill, who suffered a broken forearm followed by a broken index finger, said he feels as good as he has all season.

(Follow me on Twitter @PaulaPasche.)

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Lions finish season on four-game win streak

DETROIT -- It’s simple to choose one play that made the difference for the Lions on Sunday.

Midway through the third quarter Vikings’ defensive end Jared Allen picked off a Shaun Hill pass and ran it 36 yards for a touchdown to bring the Vikings within six.

Here’s the difference between now and early in the season: The Lions did not collapse under the pressure.

Instead they answered back with a 77-yard fourth-quarter drive ending in a Maurice Morris 5-yard touchdown scamper.

In Sunday’s season-ending game, the Lions beat the Minnesota Vikings 20-13 to stretch their win streak to four games. They had not won four in a row since 1999 and they hadn’t ended the season on such a streak since 1995 when they won their final seven games to finish at 10-6 and still miss the playoffs.

“It’s been a process for us getting this thing turned around, the main thing is we did get it turned around,’’ quarterback Shaun Hill said. “We’ve catapulted ourselves into the 2011 season with the way we finished which is nice. I know everybody in that locker room can’t wait to get back at it this spring.

“It took some growing pains early to prepare us for this and make us a better team going forward,’’ said Hill who finished 28 of 39 for 258 yards, one touchdown and that ugly Jared Allen interception which he never saw.

“I still don’t know, did he catch it? Tip it to himself? Clean catch? Step right in there?’’ Hill asked the media.

When he learned it was a clean catch, he said, “I did throw a catchable ball though,’’ and then he laughed.

The laugh and the relief was a long time coming after this team started with a 2-10 record. They finished 6-10.

Wide receiver Nate Burleson, who had his best game of the season with six catches for 83 yards, a touchdown and one 20-yard run on a reverse, said there had not been a change in the locker room.

“We lost all those games in the beginning of the year, we came to work (ticked) off because we were handing games away, I felt like we gave some games away,’’ Burleson said. “We still approach that same way. Regardless of if we won the last four games when we come to work on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday we’re still mad because we’re not where we want to be , so the attitude hasn’t changed.’’

But here’s the key.

“I think on game day it’s starting to click now. We’re not surprised when we’re winning we’re a good team. I don’t want to stand up here and sound overconfident or cocky. I think we’re realizing how good we are now, in the beginning of the year I don’t think we understood it,’’ he added.

Playing without Calvin Johnson, who was dressed and active but never stepped on the field due to an ankle injury, the offense was able to move the ball.

Coach Jim Schwartz said they knew he couldn’t run well, but they thought he possibly could act as a decoy. But they didn’t need him because everyone else stepped up including Burleson and Bryant Johnson (three catches for 49 yards).

Bryant Johnson had the biggest catch of the day on a third-and-8 at Minnesota’s 28 with the Lions clinging to a 13-10 lead, Hill found Johnson along the sidelines for a 23-yard gain. It was ruled a completion and withstood a challenge.

Schwartz said he thought there should have been defensive pass interference called which would have made the challenge a moot point. “That was a great catch and we needed it but I was disappointed because it looked like there was a lot of contact on that play,’’ Schwartz said.

On the next snap Morris ran in for the touchdown to give the Lions a 20-10 lead. In the second quarter Burleson caught a 7-yard touchdown pass which followed a 55-yard field goal by Dave Rayner who also kicked a 37-yarder in the third quarter. The Lions held a 10-0 lead at the half.

It’s the second time the Lions’ defense held a division opponent without an offensive touchdown. Detroit beat Green Bay 7-3.

“It’s a credit to this locker room because after they got the pick-six you could feel the momentum shifting, I think the first half of the season the old Lions would have given that up,’’ center Dominic Raiola said. “We’ve been up 14-3 on teams and given the lead up. We came up with a big drive in the fourth quarter and scored a touchdown there, some receivers made big plays down the sideline and punched it in. This is a mature locker room.’’

It’s new territory for the Lions. Raiola and Jeff Backus have been around since they were drafted in 2001. They hadn’t won four straight since college.

The change in the last four weeks has been a maturation of this group as a team. The growing pains were ugly, but perhaps necessary to get to this point.

“It’s just what we’ve been through. You look at what we’ve been through the first half of the season -- the first nine years of my career --- the people who were inserted in this locker room. ... I think we’re learning how to win, there was so much losing going on around here I think we forgot that feeling,’’ Raiola said. Now it’s back.

To a man, they expect the momentum to carry over into the offseason and next season.

“I see a lot of this team coming back and I think the people upstairs are going to equip us even more to make a playoff run,’’ Raiola said. “That’s the expectation next year, we have the personnel here to do that.’’

The four-game win streak cemented what the team has known since August -- they are headed in the right direction and they are not the same old Lions.

(Paula Pasche covers the Lions. Follow her on Twitter @PaulaPasche. Read her Lions Lowdown blog at

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Peterson, Houston out; Calvin Johnson active

DETROIT -- Surprisingly, Lions linebacker Julian Peterson is inactive for today’s game against the Vikings. Peterson was not listed on Friday’s injury report. Ashlee Palmer will start in his place

Cornerback Chris Houston (shoulder) is out. He didn’t practice this week and was listed as doubtful on Friday’s injury report.

Wide receiver Calvin Johnson, who did not practice all week because of an ankle injury, is active for today’s game against the Vikings. Running back Jahvid Best (toe), DE Lawrence Jackson (groin) and QB Drew Stanton (left shoulder) were listed as probable and are active.

QB Matthew Stafford (shoulder0 and LB Landon Johnson (concussion) are on injured reserve.

Other inactives for the Lions are: RB Aaron Brown, S Randy Phillips, DE Barry Turner, T Tony Ugoh and G Donald Thomas.

In the first meeting this season the Viking beat the Lions 24-10.

(Follow me on Twitter @PaulaPasche throughout the game.)

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Game day info for Vikings at Lions, includes complete injury report

Vikings at Lions

1 p.m. Sunday, Fox-TV; WXYT-AM (97.1)

Records: Lions 5-10; Vikings 6-9

Key matchup: Lions defense against Vikings RB Adrian Peterson. In the first match-up this season, Peterson busted loose for long yardage and finished with 160 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

History: Vikings have won six straight against Lions, including 24-10 win at the Metrodome on Sept. 26. ... Lions have beat Vikings just one time in eight tries at Ford Field. ... Last time Vikings played at Ford Field (Dec. 13) they were the home team and lost to the N.Y. Giants after the game was moved from Minneapolis due to the collapse of the Metrodome roof due to too much snow. ... This will be 99th time the two teams have met with Vikings holding 30-66-2 edge. ... Last time Lions beat Vikings was on Sept. 16, 2007, with a 20-17 overtime win at Ford Field.

Injury report: Lions -- CB Chris Houston (shoulder) is doubtful and WR Calvin Johnson (ankle) is questionable. RB Jahvid Best (toe), DE Lawrence Jackson (groin) and QB Drew Stanton (left shoulder) are probable. LB Landon Johnson (concussion) is out (IR).

Vikings -- S Madieu Williams (concussion) is out; QB Brett Favre (concussion/neck/right shoulder), S Tyrell Johnson (knee) and WR Sidney Rice (concussion) are doubtful; CB Asher Allen (abdomen), LB Erin Henderson (concussion) and FB Naufahu Tahi (ankle) are questionable; RB Adrian Peterson (knee) is probable.

Quote of the week: Gunther Cunningham on Ndamukong Suh: “The Pro Bowl selection – how could you not pick him in the Pro Bowl? I said it a lot of times and if people challenge that statement, so be it. But come into my office and watch him. Watch him with me and I’ll show you. I’ve never seen anything like this and a lot of people want to compare him. There’s no comparison.’’

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5 things Lions must do to beat Vikings

ALLEN PARK -- Coming off a three-game win streak, the Lions have a strong shot to beat the Minnesota Vikings in the season finale. In fact, they should win. Here are five things they must do to make that happen:

1. The pieced-together defense, which is missing key players to injury, must be good enough to let the offense have a chance to win it. Guys like Lawrence Jackson, Nathan Vasher and Bobby Carpenter should be improving due to increased playing time.

2. The Dolphins’ defense did a good job in stopping the Lions’ rushing attack, but they’ve got to stick with running the ball against a strong Vikings’ defense. Maurice Morris, who has a chest injury, wasn’t as effective against the Dolphins as he had been in recent weeks.

3. Lions quarterbacks (Drew Stanton and Shaun Hill) haven’t thrown an interception in two straight games. That’s played a huge factor in the wins. Hill needs to keep that up against the Vikings.

4. Get the ball to Calvin Johnson, Pro Bowl starter.

5. Be resilient.

Prediction: Lions 28, Vikings 21

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