Schwartz won’t use one play as excuse for Lions

The incomplete touchdown catch by Calvin Johnson (is there a better phrase for what we’re calling this?) continues to draw an incredible amount of interest from NFL Nation. At last count, the video drew more than 2,800 comments on NFL’s Facebook page.

On the day after, Lions coach Jim Schwartz spent a good chunk of his news conference sharing more of his thoughts on the catch that wasn’t.

Schwartz sounds ready to move on from the controversy, saying he respects and understands the rule in question. He described it this way: “There’s a difference between incomplete and having caught the ball. He caught the ball. It wasn’t ruled complete.”

Even so, you have to respect that Schwartz isn’t using the play as a crutch for the loss, certainly using the scenario to send a message to the young Lions. Maybe it’s his only choice, but he refuses to allow his team to focus on one play as an excuse.

Schwartz’s day-after reaction to the call deserves a deeper look:

“Let may say this: Officials officiate. My job is not to officiate. It’s not my job to write rules. It’s not our players’ job to write rules. It’s our job to play. If we’re doing our jobs right as players, as coaches, as a team, that play doesn’t even come up into consideration.

“(An) 89-yard screen play on second-and-20 with a minute left in the half. Getting sacked, (a) fumble, and another field goal before the end of the half. That’s a 10-point swing right there. When we have a 14-3 lead and, it appears, some good momentum to go up by even more than that at the end of the first half. We have a chance, second-and-20 with about three minutes left in the game, to force a third down and long, to get the ball back for our offense, have a chance to finish the game taking a knee, and we give up 18 yards on a checkdown.

“All those plays had as much to do with losing that game as the Calvin play. I think they all deserve as much attention. Nationally that’s not going to happen, locally that’s not going to happen. As a team, that’s where our focus is, on those plays, not parsing a rule, not trying to look at it that way. It doesn’t really matter technically what we think of the rule. The officials view it that way. That’s the way they’re going to officiate it, that’s they way the league looks at it, and that’s what we have to deal with as coaches and players. It’s really not part of the consideration.”

Whether or not you agree with the written rule, Schwartz has stepped up to handle the situation admirably.

— Frank Tadych

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