Nate Burleson: Lions 'bad guys' again

Updated: October 16, 2012, 12:29 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

The Detroit Lions, in an effort to regain discipline after an offseason marred by arrests, might have lost their swagger on the field, receiver Nate Burleson said Monday.

Burleson ... Finding that maturity off the field can't compromise who we are on the field, and who we are on the field are the bad guys.

-- Nate Burleson

But Burleson says Detroit regained its bad-boy image -- on the field -- during the team's bye week, and it was displayed during the Lions' comeback against the Eagles on Sunday. Detroit rallied for 17 points in the fourth quarter to stun Philadelphia 26-23 in overtime.

The Lions were plagued by seven arrests -- by four players -- during the offseason, causing the team's image to suffer around the league. But by tightening up off the field, the team's on-field play suffered, maybe helping to explain the team's 1-3 start before Sunday's victory.

"We had a lot of discipline issues during the offseason, and we wanted to tighten up because the perception of this organization started to change -- what we'd worked for was getting torn down, and we wanted to be more of a mature team," Burleson said. "But finding that maturity off the field can't compromise who we are on the field, and who we are on the field are the bad guys.

"We're the ones that nobody wants to see succeed, and we like it that way. We play better that way. I think everybody took it in their own hands to be better men off the field, and that followed us a little bit on the field, but I think we're back where we need to be."

Burleson put his renewed swagger on display in Sunday's victory after he caught a touchdown pass with 3:32 remaining to cut the Eagles' lead to 23-20. After scoring, he waved his hands to mimic the flight of an eagle and then pretended to throw the pretend bird in the air and shoot it with a pretend arrow.

"Yeah, I heard you can't shoot eagles," he said, according to the Detroit News, which according to the paper prompted laughter from his teammates in the locker room. "I don't know, I think I missed. The eagle might still be alive and flying around."

The receiver said his celebration was a way to have fun and helped "to kind of get our swagger back."

"I talked to the guys last week, and I said we've got to get back to being angry, mad at everybody, not really caring what people think about us, playing with that chip on our shoulders," he told reporters.

Burleson credited coach Jim Schwartz for helping to remind the team during the bye week to have fun again.

"It's hard to have a whole lot of fun when you're losing, but yeah, I think it is a game meant to be played with emotion," Schwartz said Monday, according to the Detroit News. "That was one of the things we talked about going in when we were 1-3. It's like, 'Look: We're a top-10 offense; we're a top-10 defense. Let's start acting like it.'"

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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