Raiola: 'I let a lot of people down'

BY foxsports • September 24, 2012

ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Dominic Raiola has played 12 years in the NFL and never had anything happen to him like the ending in Detroit Lions’ 44-41 overtime loss Sunday at Tennessee.

With fourth-and-inches at the Titans’ 7-yard line, the Lions wanted to try to draw the defense off-sides before having to settle for a game-tying field goal. The only thing that could turn it into a disaster is if one player -- the center -- didn’t get the call right and snapped the ball.

And that’s exactly what happened.

Raiola was so distraught that he couldn’t talk about it immediately after the game when approached by reporters in the Lions’ locker room.

He finally did address the topic Monday afternoon.

“It still hurts,” Raiola said. “It’s still fresh. I let a lot of people down. That’s the way I take it.”

Quarterback Shaun Hill ended up losing yardage on the play, sending the Lions home with their second straight loss.

It was a demoralizing finish for a team that had scored on a Hail Mary pass on the final play of the fourth quarter to send the game to overtime.

After officials measured for a first down and determined that the Lions were inches short in the overtime, the offense tried to line up quickly. There was no huddle. They relied on a verbal call at the line of scrimmage from Hill, who was replacing injured starter Matthew Stafford.

“We tried to get up on the ball and run a play that wasn’t supposed to be snapped,” Raiola explained. “I totally read Shaun’s lips the wrong way. I ran fullback dive.”

Asked if crowd noise was a factor at LP Field in Nashville, Tenn., Raiola said, “Noise, we were trying to get up on the ball, run fastball, get them on the line, get them to jump. That’s just on me.

"Mis-execution on my part. … If I hear the key word, the check, I’m not going to snap it.”

His teammates heard the key word, Raiola didn’t.

“I take my job pretty serious,” he said. “To end the game like that sucks.

“There’s nothing I can do about it now. I’d have asked Shaun three times if I knew that was going to happen.

“I’ll take all the blame people want to give me. I know that the (coaching) staff and this locker room (his teammates) has my back. That’s the most important thing.”

During his weekly news conference, coach Jim Schwartz referred to the play as “a great example of an overaggressive call by the head coach.”

“Going into the play, it seemed like there was no downside,” Schwartz said. “Hey, try to draw them off. If we jumped off-sides or did something, we move back five yards and we still kick the field goal.

“What wasn’t supposed to have any downside ended up having a downside. That’s on me as a head coach.”


Schwartz wouldn’t comment on the results of the MRI scheduled for Monday on Stafford’s right leg. Stafford came out of Sunday’s game late in the fourth quarter with an injury apparently in the area of the hamstring.

“We’ll see how he progresses through this week,” Schwartz said.

Stafford wasn’t available to the media Monday, but he did appear on his weekly radio segment during the Valenti & Foster show on 97.1 The Ticket.

Asked if he expects to play Sunday against Minnesota, Stafford said, “I’m not sure. Taking it kind of day-to-day right now to try to figure out how it responds to treatment.”

The Lions don’t practice until Wednesday. The official NFL injury report for this week's games is released late Friday afternoon.


Schwartz didn’t rule out having to add a punter to the roster after Ben Graham suffered a calf injury, which forced kicker Jason Hanson into double duty for much of Sunday’s game.

“We’ll have to see how he (Graham) responds and how he looks, but there is definitely a possibility of that (signing a punter),” Schwartz said.

Former Lions punter Nick Harris, who was cut by Carolina during training camp, reportedly visited the Allen Park practice facility on Monday.

… The replacement officials mistakenly marked off 27 yards for the Titans on a 15-yard personal foul penalty against Detroit before the winning 26-yard field goal in overtime.

The NFL does not allow a coach to challenge that type of ruling, Schwartz said. Coaches are not allowed to challenge any plays in overtime anyway.

The decisions on reviews are made by the official in the replay booth during the OT.

“We had the alternate (official) on our sideline,” Schwartz said. “He was the guy mic-ed up (to the replay booth). We said you’re enforcing it from the wrong spot. He was adamant that they were correct.”

 … Receiver Nate Burleson, on bouncing back from such a tough loss: “We’ve got to. It definitely does leave a mark. That was an emotionally-draining loss. When you get blown out, you just deal with it. You kind of move on quickly.

“When you exert so much emotion and you exert so much of yourself physically, it’s tough to bounce back in one day. The best remedy for that is just getting a victory. We’ve got to forget about it and go out and get a victory vs. Minnesota, which is going to be tough because they’re playing well right now.”