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Schwartz On Penalties Of Suh, Fairley: ‘I Don’t Know What To Tell Them’

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PHILADELPHIA, PA - DECEMBER 08: Ndamukong Suh #90 and Stephen Tulloch #55 of the Detroit Lions walk off the field after the loss to the Philadelphia Eagles on December 8, 2013 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.The Philadelphia Eagles defeated the Detroit Lions 34-20.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

PHILADELPHIA, PA – DECEMBER 08: Ndamukong Suh #90 and Stephen Tulloch #55 of the Detroit Lions walk off the field after the loss to the Philadelphia Eagles on December 8, 2013 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.The Philadelphia Eagles defeated the Detroit Lions 34-20. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

AshleyDunkak Ashley Dunkak
Ashley Dunkak spent the last three years covering Kansas S...
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By Ashley Dunkak
@AshleyDunkak

DETROIT (CBS DETROIT) - Calling the NFL to discuss penalties is nothing new for the Detroit Lions. They do it almost every week to get clarification on calls so they can tell players what to do differently in the future.

This time, though, head coach Jim Schwartz expects more of a concession than an explanation.

“We talk to the league just about every single week when it comes to calls, mainly to find out, ‘What can we tell this player here? What do we need to do different? What did the official see?’” Schwartz said.

“Those two plays are difficult because it’s hard to tell those guys what to do any different,” Schwartz continued. “I’d be surprised if the league had a different stance on that, if they told us, ‘Hey, this is what they did wrong.’”

The plays in question, of course, are the same ones that Sports Illustrated’s Peter King named in his list of blown calls by NFL referees this weekend. Both came on a game-tying drive for Philadelphia at the beginning of the fourth quarter. The first flag, a roughing the passer call against defensive tackle Nick Fairley, gave the Eagles first down when it would have been a third-and-long situation. The second was a holding call against fellow defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, a penalty caused a redo of the two-point conversion, allowing the Eagles a second chance to score.

“It’s difficult because one of our things we try to do with penalties is we try to learn, ‘Okay, this is why they called holding on you, this is why they called pass interference,’ so that you can try to learn from it and be in better position the next time,” Schwartz said. “And in these cases, I honestly don’t know what to tell Nick Fairley or Suh on those plays, but they got called.

“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, and the other one was a two-point play,” Schwartz added. “Now two points at the end of the game didn’t mean a whole lot, but there’s potential. Every play means something in a game. We can’t do anything other than play. We’re not the officials.”

Schwartz does not often criticize penalties handed out to his players. Asked about whether the Lions get punished for their reputation, Schwartz did not agree. Another questionable call against Fairley occurred when Detroit played Chicago, but Schwartz did not think Sunday’s foul belonged in the same category.

“Nick in that game, I thought he could have avoided his passer penalty in that game at the end,” Schwartz said. “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.

“It sort of just follows to the league’s point of emphasis and player safety and trying to protect what they consider defenseless players, which are quarterbacks in the pockets,” Schwartz continued. “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. That probably swung momentum on that drive. Like I said, there’s a chance that big third down, we get a chance to get a stop there and we can stop their momentum. That kept that going. It gave them a little momentum on the two-point drive.”

While the calls certainly benefited Philadelphia, they definitely were not the main factor in the Eagles scoring 28 points in the fourth quarter to run away with the game. That, of course, is the bottom line.

As Schwartz put it, “We can’t blame any of our tackling problems in the fourth quarter on those calls.”

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