Tuesday, October 16, 2012
Fine with Jim Schwartz's decision to kick
By Kevin Seifert
Let's take a moment to wrap up a loose end from the Detroit Lions' 26-23 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles. Here's where we left it in our Rapid Reaction post:
What I'm curious to know more about: A pair of penalties on a fourth-quarter extra point allowed the Lions to kick off from the Eagles' 45-yard line midway through the fourth quarter. The Eagles held a 16-13 lead at the time, and Lions coach Jim Schwartz elected to have the strong-legged Jason Hanson kick deep. Was that a missed opportunity for an onside kick or a squib? At worst, the Eagles would be taking over around their 35-yard line if an onside kick failed.
The decision didn't play a role in the outcome of the game. In fact, Lions cornerback Chris Houston intercepted Michael Vick on the first play of the ensuing possession. But it's rare to kick off from opposing territory, and I'm glad someone asked Schwartz about it during his Monday news conference. I also respect his response.
Asked how much thought he put into an onside kick in that situation, Schwartz said in part: "None. We gave up four special teams scores in two weeks. We weren't going to get cute right there. … [I]n that case, we were going to get that ball out of the end zone."
Indeed, the Lions became the first team in NFL history to give up punt and kickoff returns for touchdowns in consecutive weeks earlier this season against the Tennessee Titans and Minnesota Vikings. A kickoff from the 45-yard line is a tempting place to get aggressive, but Schwartz was rightfully in safe mode at that point. He had a chance to guarantee nothing bad would happen -- by having Hanson kick 55 yards for a touchback -- and he took it.