Day after blown call, Caldwell orders players to shut up about it
Jim Caldwell wants to turn his focus to Detroit’s next game — and he’s insisting his players do the same.
No more talk about the controversial ending in Monday night’s loss at Seattle.
"I’m going to tell them not to talk about it," Caldwell said Tuesday. "We can’t be hanging on something that happened a night ago that we can do nothing about."
Caldwell says he doesn’t want the Lions to be distracted by more discussion of Calvin Johnson’s fumble on Detroit’s final possession Monday. The ball was knocked out of the back of the end zone by the Seahawks’ K.J. Wright. Rather than flag him for illegally batting the ball, officials ruled the play a touchback.
Caldwell said he spoke with NFL VP of Officiating Dean Blandino on Tuesday, but the Detroit coach would not go into detail about that conversation.
Lions players were not available to reporters Tuesday. Caldwell began his news conference by talking a bit about the disputed play, but was unwilling to say much more about it.
"I don’t want it to linger. I don’t want our guys talking about it because it’s over and done with," Caldwell said. "As we looked at it from the sideline, we saw Calvin with the ball in his hand. The ball comes out and then I actually saw the young man bat the ball out."
Johnson fumbled just before reaching the end zone, but Blandino told NFL Network that Wright should have been called for illegally batting the loose ball, a penalty that would have given the ball back to Detroit at the Seattle 1-yard line.
"You can take that situation and drag it out through the week where your players are more focused in on that particular play than on the opposition that we have to face in just a few days," Caldwell said.
"You can act, `Woe is me, that’s a bad call, that went against us,’ and look at all those kinds of things. That’ll distract you and you’ll get your ears kicked in come Sunday afternoon."
The Lions (0-4) are the only winless team in the NFL, and they face another tough opponent this weekend when they host Arizona. The bad news continues to mount for Detroit — Caldwell said defensive tackle Tyrunn Walker is out for the season with a dislocated ankle and broken leg.
Caldwell may not want his players to dwell on Monday night’s questionable call, but it will be hard for Detroit fans to let this go. This is hardly the first time the Lions have felt aggrieved after a crucial call.
In 2010, Detroit lost a game at Chicago when what initially looked like a game-winning touchdown catch by Johnson was ruled incomplete.
Johnson got both feet and a knee on the ground before putting the ball on the grass and beginning to celebrate. It was ruled incomplete because he didn’t maintain possession of the ball throughout the entire process of the catch.
On Thanksgiving in 2012, Houston’s Justin Forsett scored on an 81-yard run against the Lions, even though replays clearly showed his knee and elbow touched the turf.
The play almost certainly would have been overturned by replay — all scoring plays are subject to review — but Detroit coach Jim Schwartz had thrown his challenge flag. Thanks to a quirk in the rules, that meant the original play actually couldn’t be reviewed and the touchdown stood.
Last season, Detroit lost a playoff game at Dallas after officials reversed themselves, negating what was initially announced as a pass interference call on the Cowboys in the fourth quarter. Caldwell said after that game that it might be time to allow more plays to be reviewed with instant replay.
That loss to Dallas ended Detroit’s season, so if there’s any solace the Lions can take now, it’s that they still have 12 games to try to turn things around.
After dropping their first four games, they look like a longshot to make the playoffs, but Caldwell obviously feels their best chance of bouncing back from Monday’s loss is to forget about the way it unfolded.
"It can work two ways, you can keep dwelling on it and feel sorry for yourself," Caldwell said. "Or you can get by it and move on and start focusing on your next opponent, and that’s what we plan to do."