Lions’ coaches defend failed fake field goal


The Lions could have taken a seven-point lead in the fourth quarter on Sunday in Pittsburgh with a chip shot field goal, but instead they tried a fake. It didn’t work: Lions punter and holder Sam Martin was hit short of the line to gain and fumbled on the fake attempt, and the Steelers took over and promptly marched down the field for the go-ahead score.

But don’t try to tell the Lions’ coaching staff that the fake field goal was a mistake. Lions head coach Jim Schwartz insisted that the call was proof that his team isn’t afraid to be aggressive, and special teams coordinator John Bonamego said he loves having a boss who’s willing to be bold.

“I think when Jim Schwartz says he doesn’t coach scared, he means it,” Bonamego told the teams’ website. “I, for one, really respect him for that. We spend hours upon hours in here looking to find that slight edge, wherever it might be. You know it’s not time invested in vain because we know when we bring him something — as long as it’s sound — and we invest practice time and meeting time installing it, then it’s got a legitimate shot of getting called in the game.”

Both Schwartz and Bonamego said the problem with the fake field goal was not the call, but the execution. Of course, part of a coach’s job when making a call like that is knowing whether or not his players are capable of executing the play properly. And this play for the Lions was a mess.

43 responses to “Lions’ coaches defend failed fake field goal

  1. I imagine the Steelers are thanking their lucky stars that coach Schwartz doesn’t coach like a fradey-cat.

  2. “I think when Jim Schwartz says he doesn’t coach scared, he means it,”

    Didn’t coach smart in that situation either.

  3. Not a huge fan of the call, but I thought the game was decided on two other plays. The third & long Pittsburgh got on the ensuing drive, and the Ross drop on second down following their score. Lions didn’t make the plays to win, simple as that.

  4. It actually would have been converted if he didn’t fumble. Don’t like the call but the punter needs to secure it when he’s running it up the gut.

    What hurt the most was Levy dropping 2 picks (would have been 7 on the year for him), one of which would have been a sure TD.

  5. I dont think it was a bad call…you dont convert and the steelers offense (which had been stagnant much of the recent time in the game) would be backed up around their own 3 or 5 yd line…

    You dont know a) you wont make it and b) theyd go on a 97 yard drive

  6. Very happy to see Jim Schwartz explain his coaching style and I approve wholeheartedly, and hope the Lions keep him around longer than they kept Matt Millen— signed Vikings, Packers, and Bears fans.

  7. The steelers offense had been stagnant… youre right. Which is EXACTLY why you take the three points and go up 7.

  8. Well they don’t spend enough time or quality time on the strategy stuff as they continue to miss out on obvious strategies that would enhance their position. And in this game again he had a major Timeout malfunction with about 3 minutes left.

  9. It’s part of the fun for fans to second-guess coaches and play armchair quarterback. And I’ve been as critical as the next person when my coach has made–what seemed to me–a boneheaded call. But unless they just give up, the coaches don’t owe us any explanations or need to defend their calls. These guys work a lifetime to find themselves in a position only 31 other guys on earth have. As Herm Edwards said, they’re trying to win the game–and using their best judgment in the moment. We’re all geniuses in hindsight.

    For the last few years, Schwartz has had the Lions in contention. That’s more than his recent predecessors could do. If the play had worked, everyone would be singing his praises.

  10. you are asking your rookie punter to run 15 yards in the pouring rain on a notoriously bad field. That’s called coaching dumb not coaching fearlessly. Particularly when that 3 points puts you up by a td

  11. .

    Kick the FG to give you a 7 point lead. Make the Steelers have to go the length of the field and score a touchdown in order to TIE.



  12. A pretty bad call IMO with very little chance of success. 4th and 5 at the 10. 5 yds is a pretty long way considering the defense is packed into a short field. If the ball was at the 30 or 35, or there were only 1-2 yds to go, it might have been a worthwhile gamble.

  13. 7 point lead wouldn’t be good enough?

    Does this mean the Lions will go for 2 on the first drive of the game?

    It was a bad call, just say so. Own your mistakes, that way your players will as well.

  14. Doesn’t coach scared? He was scared to death that his crummy defense, especially the secondary, needed more then 7 points to hold off the Steelers from winning the game.

  15. I really hope he never gets fired. I love that the NFC North is really just a three team race consistently. The loins will get to the playoffs every 20 years or so. That’s about all they amount too year in and year out. Joke of the league.

  16. He coaches like he is gambling with the house’s money…if you feel that you’ll make the playoffs anyway regardless ofvwhat your W-L record is then by all means, go all in!

  17. I just looked up the play. It was a 4th and 5. Had the Detroit kicker not fumbled, it’s a first down. There’s a question about whether a rookie kicker should be allowed to try this in slick weather, but no guts no glory.

    This play is kind of like Stafford’s lunge to beat the Bears. He’s a hero if it works and a goat if he fails.

    From what I saw of that game there were so many dropped passes and blown coverages that all of the Detroit players can take blame for this loss.

  18. Probably the worst situation to try that imaginable. They were scoreless for the half, but with the sure field goal they’re still up 7 in the fourth against a team who has struggled all year. This was not like some crazy high scoring game where you know 3 won’t cut it.

    When you’re the better team, you shouldn’t need to roll the dice like that. His gambling increased the likelihood of the Steelers winning.

  19. The Steelers went 97 yards to score. 97 yards! Blame the Lions defense, not the stupid fake field goal attempt.

  20. In 9th grade, I was playing third base. The pitcher and I came up with a sign for me to call a pick off at third if ever I had a runner there. Late in the game, I finally had a runner. I wanted some action. I made the sign. He threw me the ball, and it went right through my legs. Run scored. Coach called us idiots. But, you can’t say we were scared.

  21. @tory707 …

    Not denying the recklessness of his behavior. Just remembering I’ve driven that speed myself in the past never imagining in a million years that I could kill myself or anyone else. We’ve all done stupid, reckless things in our lives. It’s not in me to judge someone so harshly when there but by the grace of God …

  22. hyzers says:

    It actually would have been converted if he didn’t fumble. Don’t like the call but the punter needs to secure it when he’s running it up the gut.

    And if he’s tackled short because he was running the whole time with two hands wrapped around the ball? I don’t think you can blame the punter because he’s not on that team to be a ball carrier. Part of calling a fake like that is realizing the odds of a fumble or other mistake go up. If it fails, it’s on the coach because that was a known risk of the call.

  23. Love those of you from the Bears, Vikings and Packers talking crap. Last time I looked, the Lions are still in first place and especially you Bears fans…geez, you lost two to the Lions this year…you have NO room to talk…shut it down already Bear fan!

  24. Right on Ivan; love the call and if it worked, they would be calling Coach a ballsy hero today. The holder is a wuss and needs to take some “tough” lessons along the way. You have to know that you are going to get hit hard…don’t fumble!!! As for Bears Fan…I suggest you shut it down pal…you got punked by the Lions twice this year.

  25. Forget the fake.
    Schwartz ought to be held accountable for his play-calling right before halftime: At the goal line, he used an empty backfield and a five-wide formation. On the goal-line.
    Stafford then threw three of the worst passes in the history of history. Had the Lions punched it in there, they would’ve taken a 31-20 lead into halftime.
    An 11-point lead at that point would’ve been demoralizing. Instead, settling for a field goal allowed the Steelers to be down by just 7 and still in the game.
    The rest is history.

  26. Jim Schwartz < Forrest Gump

    4th and 5 from the 10 and you call a fake punt with a rookie punter who is slower than my 90 year old grandma. Sorry Jimmy but if you want to be aggressive, why not put your 2 best players on the field in Stafford and Megatron and try for the 5 yards?

    BTW to respond to the posters above, he was hit and went down at the 7 so he was 2 yards short. The ball rolled forward and was recovered at the 3 yard line.

    Also Jimmy, if you are so aggressive, how come you don't go for 2 points after you score every TD?

    You may not coach scared Jimmy but you sure do coach stupid.

  27. I’m a Bears fan so you know I’m not taking the side of anybody on here but I like that they went for it. If they would have scored then everybody would be saying it was a great decision. You have to coach aggressive! BEARDOWN!

  28. True statements:
    -a 10 point lead is better than a 7 point lead;
    -field goal attempts at Heinz are risky propositions, especially in wind and rain;
    -five yards is a long way to run for a holder in a fake field goal play;
    -instead of a run, a pass by the holder from a field goal formation has a better chance of success at that distance, but wind & rain make that problematic, too;
    -we don’t know whether Martin can throw an accurate pass.

    Conclusion: no high probability of success for run or pass from fake field goal formation given yardage & conditions; successful kick not certain, either. Therefore, no clearcut successful strategic choice, except in hindsight.

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