NFC North: 2013 Week 2 DET at ARI

Lions must cut down on costly flags

September, 15, 2013
9/15/13
10:26
PM ET
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- They preached about how they wanted to be more disciplined, how they wanted to cut down on losing yards due to mistakes -- things they can control.

The Detroit Lions have really wanted to cut down on penalties, especially at critical times.

The Lions were penalized eight times for 101 yards Sunday in a 25-21 loss to Arizona. This comes a week after they were flagged 11 times for 88 yards. So after all the talking and preaching of discipline, for now, the Lions clearly are not.

[+] EnlargeDetroit's Bill Bentley
Jeff Gross/Getty ImagesBill Bentley was called for pass interference while defending Andre Roberts. The penalty set up Arizona's game-winning touchdown.
This time, it might have cost them a game.

“It’s something that we work on. It’s something that we talk about,” quarterback Matthew Stafford said. “We just keep working on it. We’re making a concerted effort to try and play cleaner football this year.

“I don’t know. Maybe asking them to quit throwing flags on us. I don’t know.”

The flags came at the worst possible time for Detroit in the second half Sunday. And they were big ones.

A hands to the face penalty on a third down in the third quarter by defensive end Willie Young -- a penalty he called “legit” after the game -- extended an Arizona drive. The next play, defensive lineman Israel Idonije was called for roughing the passer. The drive ended with a Jay Feely field goal.

Those weren’t even the biggest changers.

Cornerback Bill Bentley, who usually lines up in the nickel, was flagged for pass interference on Andre Roberts -- a play in which had he turned his head and made a play on the ball there would have been no call -- which set up the go-ahead touchdown run by Rashard Mendenhall two plays later.

In all, Bentley was flagged twice for pass interference and another time for holding Sunday -- just part of the Lions’ overall penalty issues.

“Yeah, they did hurt, but that’s the game,” Bentley said. “Like I said, man, you can’t win with penalties like that. You know what I’m saying. You’re good enough to be on the field like that, we just have got to make those plays.”

The question is how to actually do that. The answers vary. Linebacker Ashlee Palmer said his team needs to be “smarter” and to “know the situations.”

This also comes a week after Detroit had an interception return for a touchdown by linebacker DeAndre Levy wiped out by a Ndamukong Suh penalty.

As for the man whose job it is to make sure his players play disciplined, Detroit coach Jim Schwartz, he said it depends on the penalty on how to fix it.

“In our situation, if there were a bunch of unsportsmanlike, after the whistle plays, false starts, something like that, obviously there’s stuff that you can do that way,” Schwartz said. “But in the game, when you talk about pass interference, holding and anything else, it’s generally just a player having either bad technique or being in a bad position.

“I’m talking blind on Willie’s (penalty), but I know for Bentley, that was the case.”

And it is something the Lions know they need to correct.
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- A few thoughts on the Detroit Lions' 25-21 loss to the Arizona Cardinals.

What it means: This is a rough loss for Detroit. The Lions didn’t play particularly well in any facet -- more on that below -- and still led the game late in the fourth quarter. But penalties -- eight of them for 101 yards -- proved critical. Bill Bentley was called for pass interference to set up Arizona’s game-winning touchdown, and if he had turned around, it would have been fourth down instead of Arizona’s ball on the 1-yard line. Two penalties in the third quarter extended a drive that led to a Cardinals field goal. Just tough mistakes.

Stock watch: Stock up: Detroit’s front seven. DeAndre Levy had an interception return for a touchdown and the Lions were able to play well on third downs and in the red zone. They could challenge to be among the top groups in the NFL by the end of the season. Also up: Calvin Johnson. The best receiver in the NFL had two touchdowns in the first half and set two franchise records. Stock down: Rookie cornerback Darius Slay, who won the starting job out of training camp, was replaced for the second straight week by Rashean Mathis. Keep an eye on this during this week.

Special teams a mess: Just a horrific day on special teams for Detroit. David Akers, who is usually reliable, missed a field goal, had another one blocked and another field goal attempt, which he missed, was nullified by a running into the kicker penalty. Returner Micheal Spurlock struggled returning kicks -- almost causing a safety on a kick return -- and punts, losing yardage on one return after essentially running the width of the field. This is the second straight week there have been some special teams issues for Detroit. Last week, punter Sam Martin muffed a field goal hold and struggled with his kicks.

Offense not the same without Reggie Bush: Detroit’s offense stalled without Bush for the majority of the second half. It gained 90 second-half yards, most of them without Bush.

What’s next: Detroit has its second road game in a row next week, heading to Washington to face Robert Griffin III and the 0-2 Redskins.
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Calvin Johnson had a busy first half.

Johnson
The Detroit Lions wide receiver set two team records in the first 30 minutes against the Arizona Cardinals. His two touchdowns in the half was the 10th time he has accomplished that in a game, breaking a record set by Herman Moore.

On his first touchdown, a 72-yard slant that he took past the entire Arizona defense, he set another record. It was his sixth reception of 70 or more yards in his career, breaking a record held by Leonard Thompson, who played for the Lions from 1975 to 1986.

Oh, and the Lions also had 70-plus yard receptions in back-to-back games for the first time since 1986. Reggie Bush had a 77-yard touchdown reception last week off a screen.

Johnson has four catches for 96 yards and two touchdowns. Detroit leads, 14-10 at halftime.

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