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.


Five thoughts on Super Bowl XLIX; plus prediction

Can’t wait until Sunday’s Super Bowl between the Patriots and Seahawks.

Here are five things I’ve been thinking:

1. I am over Marshawn Lynch. His juvenile behavior is more sad than funny.
The Seahawks running back has been declining to say anything. He showed up at Media Day and answered every question with the same line — he was just there so he wouldn’t get fined.
Not every athlete is good with the media, but they usually make the most of it.
NFL players are paid handsomely and it’s not just for their on-the-field efforts. Part of their job is to talk to the media. 
Lynch needs to grow up.
Imagine how many NFL players are sitting at home this week, wishing they were at the Super Bowl.

2. I’m also over Deflate Gate. So many different stories. I understand the need for a thorough investigation by the NFL. But if the Patriots are exonerated, I agree with Patriots owner Robert Kraft who says the NFL will owe the team an apology.

3. It's a gut feeling. I think Tom Brady is going to have a great game. The Seahawks defense certainly will challenge the Patriots, but I have a hunch Bill Belichick is saving his best for this game.

4. Am very curious to see if Russell Wilson is the quarterback from the first half against the Packers, or the one who came back late in the game to win the NFC Championship.

5. Actually looking forward to the Katy Perry half-time show. Don’t think I could name one of her songs, but she’s an entertainer (like Bruno Mars from a year ago) who has been working diligently on her 12.5 minutes for the show. Lynch could take some lessons from Perry on how to handle the media. She was perfect at her press conference on Thursday. When asked since she’s single if she had her eyes on any of the players, she smiled and said she was only up there to not get fined. She answered the rest of the questions with poise and a sense of humor.

Prediction: Patriots 24, Seahawks 17

(Follow @PaulaPasche on Twitter. Order her book,  “100 Things Lions Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die’’ here. It’s also available at bookstores.)


Check out transcript from chat on Detroit Lions

If you missed Thursday's chat on the Lions, please check out the transcript here.

Plenty of discussion on Ndamukong Suh, Rob Sims, the offensive line, possible free agents and much more.

Join me for the next chat at 3 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 5.


Detroit Lions Matthew Stafford shows he belongs in Pro Bowl

It had been a long time since a Detroit Lions quarterback had played in the Pro Bowl.

Matthew Stafford made up for lost time in Sunday night’s Pro Bowl when he finished with a pair of touchdowns and 316 passing yards, second-most in Pro Bowl history.

For his efforts he won the Offensive MVP. 

Afterward he said it was a blast and gave credit to his Pro Bowl teammates.

He connected with wide receiver Golden Tate on a 60-yard pass play that set up the first touchdown. Tate had two catches for 98 yards. His touchdown passes were caught by Emmanuel Sanders and Odell Beckham Jr.

Stafford, who was a fourth alternate and played in place of Peyton Manning, proved he belonged.

In the game he was reunited with Scott Linehan, the Lions’ offensive coordinator for Stafford’s first five seasons. Linehan is a member of the Dallas Cowboys coaching staff that worked the Pro Bowl.

Lions safety Glover Quin finished with five tackles and a pass deflection.

Houston’s J.J. Watt was the defensive MVP.

Greg Landry was the last Lions’ quarterback to appear in a Pro Bowl in 1972.

(Follow @PaulaPasche on Twitter. Order her book,  “100 Things Lions Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die’’ here. It’s also available at bookstores.)


Detroit Lions — Rookie class offered a few gems, a few disappointments

With steady development in recent seasons, the Detroit Lions didn’t have as many vital roles to fill through the draft and rookie free agent signings for the 2014 season.
Among the draft class and two rookie free agents, there were a few gems along with a few disappointments.
Much is expected from all of them when they start the preparation for their second seasons.
Here’s a look at the 2014 draft class and the rookie free agents:

Eric Ebron (first round) — Much was made of the possibilities that Ebron brought to the offense — how he could create mismatches for the opposing defenses. It just didn’t happen. Coming out of camp he was the third tight end on the depth chart behind Brandon Pettigrew and Joe Fauria. Ebron made strides later in the season, but early on he often appeared lost — didn’t run right routes, missed blocks and didn’t make catches he should have had. 
In June, after spring workouts Ebron admitted his head had been spinning trying to learn the offense. The Lions wanted to use him like the Saints use Jimmy Graham.  As a rookie Graham had 31 catches for 356 yards and five touchdowns in 15 games. In comparison, in 13 games Ebron had 25 catches for 248 yards and one touchdown. EBRON'S SEASON IN PHOTOS
The offseason will be key for Ebron. He needs to get the offense down and step up his game. Yes, the Lions have plenty of offensive weapons, but the door is open for Ebron to step up and take a larger role.

Kyle Van Noy (second round) — The pass-rush specialist was slowed down considerably by sports hernia surgery in August. He sat out the first half of the season and then was gently eased into the defense. He didn’t see many snaps on defense in the final eight games. In his first game he was on the field for two defensive snaps. It varied but he never had more than 14 and was mostly in single digits. In the playoff game he was in on three defensive snaps. It’s an indication that he wasn’t able to step up and earn more time on the field. Van Noy needs a good offseason and to get a better understanding of the defense. He practices with linebackers and defensive ends. Yes, he has plenty to learn. He has to stay healthy and earn more snaps. This coaching staff doesn’t award playing time on the basis of draft order.

Travis Swanson (third round) — The offensive guard/center was not expected to start the 2014 season — he was drafted to fill holes on the offensive line when Rob Sims and Dom Raiola are gone. With the announcement this week that Raiola won’t return, expect Swanson to be the new starting center. Last season due to injury Swanson had to step in at right guard with four starts at the position. He wasn’t as good as Larry Warford but gained tremendous experience especially considering he was a four-year starter in college at center. He also started at center for the final regular season game when Raiola was suspended. A few of his snaps were a little shaky but Matthew Stafford was able to handle them. Overall it was a good rookie season for Swanson and much is expected for him when he takes over at center.
Nevin Lawson (fourth round) — The cornerback gets an incomplete since he suffered a season-ending injury in the second game. It was a dislocated foot severe enough that he required immediate surgery that afternoon in Carolina. He had replaced Bill Bentley at nickel after Bentley’s season was ended with a torn ACL.

Larry Webster (fourth round) — The big defensive end didn’t play one snap, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. For the most part the defensive ends stayed healthy, so the coaching staff was able to bring Webster around slowly. Coach Jim Caldwell raved about Webster in December saying he’s made leaps and bounds in his ability to rush the passer in practice. He’s 6-foot-6, speedy (4.58 40-yard dash) and has quite a vertical leap (36.5 inches at the Combine). Nothing but upside. He made the 53-man roster out of camp because they didn’t want to put him on the practice squad and risk losing him.

Caraun Reid (fifth round) —  The Princeton grad got thrown into the fire with so many injuries at defensive tackle. The Ivy Leaguer needs to take the next step in the offseason. Playing with Ndamukong Suh he was able to learn from the best. He saw limited time in a dozen games.

TJ Jones (sixth round) — The wide receiver was out all season, never able to return from offseason shoulder surgery. The wide receivers were basically a healthy group so his absence wasn’t really noticed. He’ll have a ton to prove in the offseason to find a spot on the 53-man roster.

Nate Freese (seventh round) — Gone after going three of seven on field goal attempts in his first three games.

Cornelius Lucas (undrafted) — The offensive tackle started three games (two right, one left) and played in 15. His star is rising, although much work to do for the 6-foot-9 Kansas State product. He can also move to guard if needed which it was this season with injuries to right guard Larry Warford and right tackle LaAdrian Waddle. 

Mohammed Seisay (undrafted) — Rookie cornerbacks in the NFL take time to mature. Seisay, who played at Nebraska, saw action in 13 games after a variety of injuries to defensive backs. He started the season on the practice squad, but was promoted in mid-September to the 53-man roster.


Check out transcript from Lions chat

If you missed Thursday's chat discussing the Detroit Lions, check out the transcript here.

Lots of discussion on possible roster moves, the NFL draft and more.

Join the next chat at 3 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 29.

Detroit Lions 'in good hands' with Travis Swanson

Dominic Raiola is thankful he got a year to work with Travis Swanson who is expected to be his replacement at center for the Detroit Lions.

Swanson was drafted in the third round in May to eventually become the starter at center.

“He’s going to do great. He’s tough, his track record, he’s a proven guy who can play, he’s durable,’’ Raiola said in a conference call on Tuesday. “I’m just thankful that I got the year to work with him and just get to know him. He’s a tough dude. He’s smart. I mean, you’ve got to be smart to be a center.’’

Raiola had been the starting center for 13 seasons.

When he missed the final regular season game due to an NFL suspension, Swanson started for him at center.  The rookie also started four games at right guard for the injured Larry Warford.

At Arkansas, Swanson started 50 consecutive games at center.

“The Lions are in good hands with him and I’m glad I can leave what I did and move on to Travis. Couldn’t happen to a better guy,’’ Raiola said.

(Follow @PaulaPasche on Twitter. Order her book,  “100 Things Lions Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die’’ here. It’s also available at bookstores.)


Detroit Lions — Dominic Raiola had an amazing run

Dominic Raiola will be missed.

Inexplicably, there are many Detroit Lions fans who don’t like the guy who has been the Lions center for 14 years, the starter for 13 seasons.

He is from Hawaii, but he is more like Detroiters than some will ever know.
He worked hard, wanted to win and was all about the team.

Yes, he could be prickly that’s just who he was. Don’t think for a moment he didn’t appreciate the fans, he did. 

He loves Detroit and is a big fan of the Tigers and Red Wings, not to mention Kid Rock.

Really through the brutal seasons (and there were too many) he gutted it out. He always was optimistic (never moreso than this season) and fought hard to keep his spot on the roster. He played for five head coaches and never lost his starting role. He took a pay cut after the 2012 season, had one of his best seasons in 2013 and earned a pay raise.

But it wasn’t all about the money.

If you ever would have a chance to see Raiola after a big win or a devastating loss you would know he took it personally.

There are tears in football and Raiola shed a few of them.

Raiola knew that 2014 might have been his last season. He wanted at least one more. It’s likely what made the playoff loss at Dallas more painful for him.

Raiola turned 36 on Dec. 30 which, as we all know, is old in the NFL.

All good things must come to an end. The Lions have told Raiola they won't re-sign him for 2015.

To Raiola’s credit, he is the one who helped prep Travis Swanson to eventually take over his job. And really he seemed happy to do so. Again, he was all about the team and earned the utmost respect from his teammates.

Raiola’s career should be celebrated, not dismissed.

He was always there and he always fought hard. In 14 seasons he missed just one four-game stretch in 2008 with a hand injury. He also sat out the final regular season game in 2014 due to a suspension.

Fourteen seasons, five games missed. Every one played with all he had. That is remarkable.

(Follow @PaulaPasche on Twitter. Order her book,  “100 Things Lions Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die’’ here. It’s also available at bookstores.)


Detroit Lions hold onto Jim Bob Cooter

A year ago, Jim Bob Cooter was the final piece put in place for the new coaching staff. The Detroit Lions had to wait because he was busy preparing for the Super Bowl as an offensive assistant for the Denver Broncos.

Cooter has proven to be a hot commodity.

The Lions have turned down a request by the Chicago Bears to interview Cooter for the offensive coordinator opening, according to the NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.

With the Broncos he was an offensive assistant who worked with Peyton Manning. They wanted to keep him but he couldn’t promote him at the time. So he took the promotion to quarterbacks coach in Detroit to work with Jim Caldwell. The two had worked together with the Indianapolis Colts where Cooter also worked with Manning.

He’s worked closely with Matthew Stafford in the past season and the results showed in better footwork and decision making. In the last five regular season games Stafford threw nine touchdowns and just two interceptions.

Cooter was a quarterback at Tennessee and started his coaching career there as a graduate assistant in 2007.

The Lions had no choice but to allow defensive coordinator Teryl Austin to interview for head coaching positions. In fact, Caldwell was happy for him to get the opportunity. But it looks like he’ll be returning to Detroit. The Falcons have the only head coach opening and they are fully expected to hire Seahawks’ defensive coordinator Dan Quinn after the Super Bowl.

(Follow @PaulaPasche on Twitter. Order her book,  “100 Things Lions Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die’’ here. It’s also available at bookstores.)


Detroit Lions Matthew Stafford will play in Pro Bowl

Matthew Stafford will become the first Detroit Lions quarterback to play in the Pro Bowl since Greg Landry in 1972.

Stafford has been announced as an addition to the 2014 Pro Bowl, taking the place of Denver’s Peyton Manning.

The Pro Bowl will be played Sunday, Jan. 25 at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz.  It’s the same site as the Super Bowl which will be played on Feb. 1.

Stafford finished the regular season with 4,257 passing yards which is the fifth-most single-season yardage output in franchise history. He now holds four of the Lions’ top five spots on the all-time list for single-season passing yards (5,038 in 2011, 4,967 in 2012, 4,650 in 2013).

Also Stafford’s 363 completions rank fifth on the Lions’ all-time list for single-season pass completions.

Stafford is only the third Lions quarterback to play in the Pro Bowl. Along with Landry in 1972, Bobby Layne played in it three times — 1953, 1954 and 1957. 

This is the first time since 2000 that that five Lions have been named to the Pro Bowl.

Along with Stafford, Calvin Johnson, Ndamukong Suh and Glover Quin were Pro Bowl selections.

On Sunday it was also announced that Golden Tate was added in place of Jeremy Maclin.

In 2000. the Lions were represented by linebacker Stephen Boyd, defensive tackle Luther Elliss, kicker Jason Hanson, defensive end Robert Porcher and tight end David Sloan.

Detroit Lions WR Golden Tate added to Pro Bowl

Lions wide receiver Golden Tate has been added to the Pro Bowl roster replacing Eagles wide receiver Jeremy Maclin who is out for personal reasons.

Tate had 99 catches for 1,331 yards in his first season in Detroit. 

This marks the first time in Lions’ history that two wide receivers — Tate and Calvin Johnson — have been named to the game. It's the first time since 1966 that two players at the same position — defensive tackles Roger Brown and Alex Karras — were named.

Safety Glover Quin and defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh were also selected to the Pro Bowl. Johnson and Suh have opted out.

The Pro Bowl will be played on Sunday, Jan. 25 at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz., which is also the home of the Super Bowl. It will be televised on ESPN.

(Follow @PaulaPasche on Twitter. Order her book,  “100 Things Lions Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die’’ here. It’s also available at bookstores.)


Report: Lions' Teryl Austin withdraws as Broncos coaching candidate

Teryl Austin, the Lions’ defensive coordinator, has withdrawn his name from consideration for the Denver Broncos head coaching vacancy according to ESPN’s Josina Anderson.

Austin has interviewed twice for the Atlanta Falcons head coaching position. He also interviewed with the Chicago Bears where John Fox appears to be the leading candidate.

Austin, 49, found success in his first season as a coordinator with the Lions under Jim Caldwell. The defense finished the season ranked second in the NFL and first against the run.

Caldwell was happy to see Austin get the opportunities to interview. Caldwell said he interviewed six to eight times before landing his first head coaching position.

(Follow @PaulaPasche on Twitter. Order her book,  “100 Things Lions Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die’’ here. It’s also available at bookstores.)


Detroit Lions Joique Bell, LaAdrian Waddle undergo surgery

With the Lions’ season over, it’s time to heal.

Lions running back Joique Bell posted a photo on Instagram in a hospital bed on Thursday. It was tagged with the message “Surgery was a success, be right back like I left something. #Concrete.''

It’s uncertain which body part was surgically repaired. He missed one game in 2014 and that was back on Oct. 5. He didn’t play like he was injured.

Right tackle LaAdrian Waddle announced his surgery on Twitter and also that he started his last two classes to graduate from Texas Tech.

Waddle missed a half-dozen games in 2014 with a concussion also calf and ankle injuries. But it was a knee injury on Dec. 14 that ended his season prematurely.

(Follow @PaulaPasche on Twitter. Order her book,  “100 Things Lions Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die’’ here. It’s also available at bookstores.)

Detroit Lions — Jim Caldwell one year later

One year ago today, Jim Caldwell was introduced at Ford Field as the 26th coach of the Detroit Lions.

Here are three key items from his speech on Jan. 15, 2014:

— “We’re going to be smart. We’re going to be a football team that takes the field that’s not going to shoot itself in the foot. We’re going to be a team that is disciplined, that’s focused, that understands situational football.’’

— “It’s going to be drilled and drilled and drilled and not just given lip service, but what you should see on the field is obviously a product of our coaching, our instruction and our demands. We’re going to have a fast football team. There’s nothing like teams with speed.’’

— “We’re going to do things the right way, but we’re going to be a physical, hard-nosed, rough football team. We’re going to flat get after you from the word go — every single snap of the ball on offense, defense and in the kicking game.’’

We know how he did his first season. He changed the culture and the mindset of the players and finished with an 11-5 record and a trip to the playoffs.

Many fans were hoping the Lions would hire Ken Whisenhunt instead of Caldwell. Whisenhunt was hired by the Tennessee Titans who finished 2-14.

Are you happy with Caldwell as the Lions’ coach?

Was this a better result for his first season than you expected?

(Follow @PaulaPasche on Twitter. Order her book,  “100 Things Lions Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die’’ here. It’s also available at bookstores.)


Check out transcript from Lions chat

If you missed today's chat on the Detroit Lions, check out the transcript here.

Much discussion involved the futures of defensive coordinator Teryl Austin, Ndamukong Suh, Reggie Bush and Stephen Tulloch.

Join the next chat at 3 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 22. It's always a fun time.


Detroit Lions Tahir Whitehead fined for hit on Cowboys' Beasley

Detroit Lions linebacker Tahir Whitehead has been fined $22,050 for hitting Cowboys wide receiver Cole Beasley in the head in Sunday’s wild-card game according to USA Today’s Tom Pelissero.

The Lions’ linebacker expected the fine which accounted for his whole paycheck for the game. (In the first round in the playoffs each player makes $22,000.)

It was a tough situation for the 6-foot-4 Whitehead against Beasley who is 
Cowboys’ Dez Bryant was fined $8,268 for taunting, a penalty he was flagged for during the third quarter.

(Follow @PaulaPasche on Twitter. Order her book,  “100 Things Lions Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die’’ here. It’s also available at bookstores.)

Texas kid learns ugly truth about being a Detroit Lions fan

At times it doesn’t pay to be a Detroit Lions fan.

One of those times was Sunday in Dallas. 
Go figure.

According to a story from, a boy from Amarilllo got tickets to the Lions’ playoff game at Dallas on Sunday. He’s a big Lions fan so wore a Lions jersey.

From the web site:
Roman and his family made the trip from Amarillo to Arlington, TX. Before the game started Roman participated in a contest that was being held on one of the stages outside of the stadium. The game was musical chairs and the last person to get a chair would win a brand new PS4 Madden game. Roman ended up being the winner, but when the MC noticed he had a Detroit Lions jersey on she asked to do it all over again because he was a Detroit Lions fan.

You know how this ends. In the next attempt, a guy wearing a Cowboys’ jersey won.

They gave Roman a Batman DVD and the Cowboys’ fan was awarded the PS4 Madden game.

A GoFundMe account has been set up to buy the kid PS4 games, a setup to play them and Lions gear. 

It was just a bad day for Lions’ fans all-around.


Lions Mayhew says Ndamukong Suh wants to return to Detroit

ALLEN PARK — Make no mistake the Lions want Ndamukong Suh to return to Detroit.

Apparently the feeling is mutual.

“He wants to be here and we want him to be here,’’ general manager Martin Mayhew said at a Thursday press conference. “As I said before that’s a pretty good combination, we’ll see how it all turns out.’’

Mayhew said that they are keeping all options on the table. The preference is to sign Suh to a long-term deal, but he would also consider a franchise tag which would cost $26.7 million for one year.

“He certainly is a big priority for us, he’s an important part of our football team the last five years,’’ Mayhew said. “I think the world of him, had an opportunity to sit down and talk with him on Monday had a good conversation.’’

Mayhew said the salary cap is expected to raise $10 million for 2015 and they could create cap room with either long-term deal or the franchise tag.

There is some urgency to get a deal done possibly before free agency starts on March 10.

(More to come.)


Detroit Lions Jim Caldwell was prepared for everything but bad officiating

Starting in training camp and throughout the season, one of Jim Caldwell’s mantras (and he had a few) was he wanted his Lions to be able to win any time and anywhere. He wanted them to be an indoor team with an outdoor attitude. Caldwell wanted them to be prepared for anything that Mother Nature and the NFL schedule makers could throw at them.

He held a training camp workout at 8:30 p.m. bringing lights to the Allen Park facility for the first time. They had one evening camp practice at Wayne State.

Caldwell wanted them to grow to believe they could win anywhere at any time.

They succeeded in winning four games on the road including at London’s Wembley Stadium and went 7-1 at home.

The Lions were prepared for the playoff game at Dallas. 

What they weren’t prepared for is the ineptitude of the officiating crew. Yes, they could have won despite Pete Morelli’s bunch, but they were not given a fair chance. 

It's been revealed this week the officials missed (at the very least) a defensive holding call on Anthony Hitchens and a hold on Ndamukong Suh on fourth down on the game-winning drive.

That’s what’s so troubling. We all know the officials blow calls in every game. But this was a playoff game, nationally televised. So much on the line.

It was just the Lions’ second playoff game since 1999. 

It was time to show the NFL world they belonged in the playoffs.

The NFL should be ashamed.

Coaches and players should win or lose the game not the officials.

Fans from across the NFL should be upset — this could happen to their team this weekend.

(Follow @PaulaPasche on Twitter. Order her book,  “100 Things Lions Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die’’ here. It’s also available at bookstores.)

Detroit Lions — Check out chat transcript

If you missed Thursday's chat on the Lions, check out the transcript here. Lots of roster related questions along with a little leftover venting about the officiating in the loss at Dallas on Sunday. Join the next chat at 3 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 15. Until then ask questions @PaulaPasche on Twitter.


Report: NFL admits to Detroit Lions a hold penalty was missed

It keeps getting worse.

Per, ESPN’s Adam Schefter — the NFL admitted to the Detroit Lions today that the officials missed a "blatant hold" on Ndamukong Suh on the fourth-down conversion from Tony Romo to Jason Witten with six minutes left in the game. That was the key fourth-and-6 play that started at Detroit’s 42. Romo hit Witten on a 21-yard curl route.

If the penalty had been called, Dallas would have been in fourth-and-16 back in their own territory. The Cowboys would have had to punt and Detroit would still have the lead, per Schefter. Instead they scored the go-ahead touchdown on that drive.

He reported that one person said this is “even worse than the PI call/no call.’’

Dean Blandino, the NFL’s head of officiating, admitted on Monday they missed at least one call — defensive holding during the sequence with Anthony Hitchens. That came with 8:25 left in the game.

The Lions lost 24-20 in their first playoff appearance since 2011.

A team spokesman said the team had no comment.

The Lions, like other NFL teams, send videos to the NFL after every game with questions. Uncertain if this is a result of Lions' diligence.

(Follow @PaulaPasche on Twitter. Order her book,  “100 Things Lions Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die’’ here. It’s also available at bookstores.)

Detroit Lions Matthew Stafford wired for sound, reacts to flag pickup

Matthew Stafford was wired for sound for Sunday's loss to the Dallas Cowboys.

So imagine what the Lions quarterback had to say when the penalty flag was picked up in the Anthony Hitchens-Brandon Pettigrew pass interference fiasco.

Wait, you don’t have to imagine. reported on Stafford’s reaction today, prior to tonight’s “The NFL on Showtime” which will air the sequence at 9 p.m.

According to, Stafford’s discussion went like this:

“That's unbelievable ... and you know it. You know it is, though. ... How does that get overturned? ... Congratulations. It's unbelievable."
Stafford sought after several officials and, shortly after, continued to voice his displeasure: "Can we explain that or no?" Stafford asks. "Just flat out overturning a pass interference call?"
An official then mentions face-guarding to Stafford, and the quarterback responds: "I understand, but your man saw it and threw a penalty. ... I understand that. ... But I've never in the history seen one turned over. Congratulations, man. First time in history that's happened.”

The NFL through Dean Blandino, the head of officiating, admitted on Monday at least one mistake in judgment on the call.

The Lions lost 24-20 to the Cowboys. PHOTOS FROM SUNDAY'S GAME

(Follow @PaulaPasche on Twitter. Order her book,  “100 Things Lions Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die’’ here. It’s also available at bookstores.)

Detroit Lions — Jim Caldwell backs Joe Lombardi

Under Jim Caldwell in his first season, no one knew exactly what to expect from the Lions.

Two surprising things happened on the way to an 11-5 record and a trip to the playoffs:

1. The defense was one of the best in the NFL. The secondary was not an issue, the line was the best in the business. For most of the season they were the NFL’s best and the rush defense remained No. 1. Safe to say that was unexpected. Teryl Austin succeeded so well that he’s drawn interest from three teams (Bills, Falcons, 49ers) as a head coach candidate.

2. The offense was inconsistent throughout the season. With the additions of Golden Tate and Eric Ebron, much more was expected. Everyone thought the new offense would be more explosive from the get-go. Injuries were an issue especially on the offensive line. They had only five games where the starters from week one were able to play. Depth guys were rookies. Offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi has been targeted by fans, but Jim Caldwell totally has his back.

“We don’t talk about it because we don’t make any excuses, but let me just tell you something  as a play-caller, what (Lombardi) had to deal with in terms of juggling guys, using people, particularly what we had with changes in our offensive line, things of that nature, who to protect, who not to help, all these kinds of things, it’s a lot different than public perception, trust me,’’ Caldwell said.

“What he did in terms of being able to get us through some of those very rough spots was exceptional, the whole offensive staff. I know often times we all look at the bottom line and hey, that’s well and good. I think the bottom line is wins and losses is what we should be looking at, but did we win enough to get us in position to play further in the season? Yeah, we did. Did we play as well as we’d like to? No, and I think we have to continue to improve in that area,’’ Caldwell added.


(Follow @PaulaPasche on Twitter. Order her book,  “100 Things Lions Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die’’ here. It’s also available at bookstores.)


Detroit Lions — Tony Dungy rips officiating in Sunday's loss

OK, the NFL has an officiating issue.
Perhaps the Lions would have lost Sunday’s game to the Cowboys without the help of the officials. Perhaps not.

Tony Dungy, a guest on the Dan Patrick Show on Monday morning, argued the NFL should have the top four officiating crews working the playoff games. It shouldn’t be an all-star situation like is was at Sunday’s game. That crew had not worked together all season.

Dungy had plenty to say about the situation.

“I‘ve never seen a situation like that where you have the conference then the flag gets picked up after they announce the penalty. I don’t see how that can happen,’’ Dungy said on the show.

“You’re very frustrated and the fact you look at it on the replay and it’s clearly pass interference, there’s no way it should have been picked up,’’ he added.

That said, he has more of an issue with Dez Bryant without his helmet running onto the field to protest the call. 

Here’s the rule: Section 3: Unsportsmanlike Conduct - Article 1 - REMOVAL OF HELMET (h) Removal of his helmet by a player in the field of play during a celebration or during a confrontation with a game official or any other player. Penalty: Loss of 15 yards from the succeeding spot or whatever spot the Referee, after consulting with the crew, deems equitable. If the foul is by the defense, it is also an automatic first down.’’

“To me that was worse than the pass interference call,’’ Dungy said on the show. “You can debate the pass interference call, the helmet rule is plain. For an official not to have the courage to call that, Dez Bryant is not on the field at the time, he’s an offensive player, he’s not coming out to substitute. 

“There’s no reason he’s out there other than to argue the call with no helmet on, every official should have thrown the flag at that point at the very least a 15-yard penalty. There’s no way you can justify not calling that,’’ said Dungy, the former NFL coach.

Dungy and Jim Caldwell worked together at the Bucs and Colts.

Dungy said he think Caldwell will now concentrate on what he can control.

Caldwell will hold a season-ending press conference this afternoon.

(Follow @PaulaPasche on Twitter. Order her book,  “100 Things Lions Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die’’ here. It’s also available at bookstores.)

Detroit Lions lose turnover battle and the game

Much has been made about the flag that was picked up by officials after they called defensive pass interference in the Lions’ 24-20 loss to the Cowboys on Sunday.

Anthony Hitchens was flagged for pass interference on the Lions’ tight end Brandon Pettigrew. The officials could have thrown in defensive holding too since he tugged on Pettigrew’s jersey. Also Dez Bryant ran onto the field to argue the call with the officials without his helmet. That could have been a 15-yard penalty in itself.

But let’s forget all of that for a second (try if you can).

The Lions lost for a few basic reasons. They could only put up 3 points in the second half and they killed themselves by losing the turnover battle.

They lost a fumble and Matthew Stafford threw an interception (it was tipped, wasn’t really his fault, but it was a turnover). The timing could not have been worse. It happened on the first play of the second half. The Lions were up 17-7 and knew they had to come out and put more points on the board.

Then with a minute left, on a fourth-and-3 at Dallas’ 42, Stafford was stripped on a sack in the final drive when the Lions were going for the win and lost the ball. It was recovered by DeMarcus Lawrence. Game over.

Stafford was sacked three times which is unacceptable in a playoff game even if the starting right tackle and right guard are rookies.

The mistakes were minimal but costly.

Can’t happen in the playoffs. 

Tony Romo didn’t throw an interception. They did lose a fumble in the fourth on another strip sack of Stafford. Lawrence fell on the ball but lost the ball when Garrett Reynolds punched it out and Reiff recovered.

Teams that win the turnover battle typically win ball games.

That’s what happened on Sunday.

(Follow @PaulaPasche on Twitter. Order her book,  “100 Things Lions Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die’’ here. It’s also available at bookstores.)