DETROIT - Coach Jim Schwartz lost the game on Thanksgiving Day. For sure, there were so many opportunities for the Lions to beat a really good team, the Houston Texans, at Ford Field before a national television audience.
In overtime alone, the Lions were on Houston's side of the field few times and appeared to be close to getting into field goal range.
Instead, it was the Texans that got Shayne Graham's 32-yard field goal to secure a 34-31 OT victory over Detroit.
For the Lions, it was their ninth straight loss on Thanksgiving Day, a tradition in the NFL.
The only difference between this one and the other eight losses is that it was the coach who lost the game, not the players.
Normally, a good coach puts his players in the best position to win. The coach isn't supposed to hurt the process.
But that's what happened in the third quarter with his team up 24-14. Schwartz acted more like an emotional fan than a head coach.
We all seen his antics the last three years, signaling first downs, jumping up and down on good plays by his team, fuming on the sideline when there's a mistake made by his team or pouting when the officials made a call he doesn't a agree with.
This one, though, took the cake. Instead of waiting for the officials to replay an 81-yard TD run by Houston, one that clearly looked as if it would come back after you could see Justin Forsett's left knee and left arm were down.
All scoring plays are automatically reviewed. But Schwartz reacted like a fan who had just seen the replay, firing the remote at the TV.
In this case, Schwartz threw a challenge flag that he couldn't by rule. Hence, it negated the normal scoring replay by officials. The play stood and the Lions' lead was cut to 24-21. "I know that we can't challenge a turnover or a scoring play and I overreacted,'' Schwartz said after the debacle. "I was so mad that they didn't call him down -- because he was obviously down on the field. `I had the flag out of my pocket before he even scored the touchdown and that's all my fault.''
The head coach has to know better, have more restraint. That's why it's totally unacceptable for a coach to be so wrapped up that he forgets to do his job.
So often, a coach can't really affect the game. especially if he doesn't have the best players on the field. The best coach on the planet can't win with scrubs.
But the last thing you want is a coach who overreacts, loses his composure in the biggest moment in the game.
That's exactly what happened. It turned the game. "You could feel the momentum shift,'' Lions WR Calvin Johnson said.
As fans booed with disapproval of what took place -- for sure, most had no idea of the rule that Schwartz violated -- Schwartz told his players what had happened and that he was at fault.
"I just wanted to let them know on the sideline what the call was and that was my fault on the sideline,'' Schwartz said. "Tried to spread the word as much as we could.''
It didn't soften the blow much, especially since most of the players didn't know about the rule, either.
"I guess it's a rule,'' quarterback Matthew Stafford said. ``Yeah, he knew it and talked to us on the field about it right after it.''
Said DE Kyle Vanden Bosch, "It's unfortunate. It was obvious to just about everybody that the runner was down. Obviously, it cost us. It's just too bad that that's not reviewable.''
Actually, upon further review, these Schwartz antics have to stop. Schwartz has crossed the line from being a young and enthusiastic coach into fan mode, in a place where his actions have actually hurt his team.
We've seen Schwartz in action before. No one will ever forget Schwartz's attack of 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh after the Lions lost to San Francisco at Ford Field last season. Schwartz thought Harbaugh pounded him on the back too hard and went into attack mode.
But on this Turkey Day, Schwartz was just that, losing the game for the Lions.
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