The Lions won on Sunday despite 16 penalties, the most of any team in any game in the NFL all season. But to hear Lions receiver Nate Burleson tell it, that’s just fine.
According to Burleson, the Lions had to clean things up off the field after they led the league in offseason arrests, but they didn’t want to change their character on the field.
“We had a lot of discipline issues in the off-season, and we wanted to tighten up because the perception of this organization started to change,” Burleson told the Detroit Free Press. “What we worked for was getting torn down, and we wanted to be more of a mature team. But finding that maturity off the field can’t compromise who we are on the field. And who we are on the field are the bad guys. . . . We’re the ones that nobody wants to see succeed, and we like it that way. We play better that way. I think everybody took it in their own hands to be better men off the field, and that followed us a little bit on the field. But I think we’re back where we need to be.”
As a veteran team leader, Burleson said that’s an attitude he has tried to impress on younger players.
“I talked to the guys last week, and I said we’ve got to get back to being angry, mad at everybody, not really caring what people think about us, playing with that chip on our shoulders,” Burleson said.
You could argue that it must have worked last week, because the Lions won. Or you could argue that if it weren’t for all the penalties, the Lions would have won without having to come back from a 10-point deficit with four minutes left.