Jim Schwartz bemoans penalties

Updated: December 9, 2013, 5:44 PM ET
By Michael Rothstein | ESPN.com

ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Jim Schwartz likes to be able to coach off penalties called, to explain to players what went wrong and how they can avoid similar mistakes in the future.

On Monday, however, Schwartz said he didn't know what to say to defensive tackles Nick Fairley and Ndamukong Suh after they were flagged for penalties during the same drive in the fourth quarter of the Detroit Lions' 34-20 loss Sunday to the Philadelphia Eagles.

"It's difficult because one of our things we try to do with penalties is try to learn, 'This is why they called holding on you,'" Schwartz said. "'This is why they called pass interference,' so you can try to learn from it and be in better position the next time.

[+] EnlargeNdamukong Suh
Elsa/Getty ImagesNdamukong Suh was flagged for defensive holding on a failed two-point conversion Sunday. The Eagles converted the ensuing attempt to forge a 14-14 tie.

"In these cases, I honestly don't know what to tell Nick Fairley or Suh on those plays. But they got called."

Fairley was flagged for roughing the passer on a second-and-10 play early in the fourth quarter, turning what would have been an incomplete pass into a first down on Detroit's side of the field. Two plays later, LeSean McCoy ran for a 2-yard touchdown.

On the ensuing two-point conversion attempt, Suh was called for holding, turning a failed conversion into another opportunity for the Eagles. Philadelphia made the conversion from a shorter distance, tying the game at 14-14.

When asked what could be used as coaching points there for his players, Schwartz didn't really have an answer.

"I mean, you saw them," Schwartz said. "I don't know what else to say. They got called and one of them kept a drive, one of them was going to be third-and-10 after the incomplete pass. It's going to be third down and 10, and third down at any down and distance was hard in that game. That would have given us a big advantage to be able to get the ball back.

"The other one was a two-point play. Now two points at the end of the game didn't mean a whole lot, but there's a potential. Every play means something in the game, but we can't do anything other than play. We're not the officials."

Schwartz, who usually doesn't say much about penalties and officiating publicly, said this instance made things more difficult because he wasn't sure what corrections to make for Suh and Fairley.

Schwartz said the penalties, particularly the one on Fairley, changed the momentum of that drive.

"This one, he's trying to hit him in the midsection, he's getting his helmet out of the way, he's not late, he's almost simultaneous with the pass," Schwartz said. "But it sort of just falls to the league's point of emphasis and player safety and trying to protect what they consider defenseless players, which are quarterbacks in the pocket, and you're going to get some of those flags thrown.

"We don't officiate it. We just go play and we have to do a better job of playing after that."

The penalties came on the second of five straight touchdown drives for Philadelphia.

Michael Rothstein | email

ESPN Detroit Lions reporter

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