Listless Lions Turn Their Attention To Schwartz
JON KRAWCZYNSKI, AP Sports Writer
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — After his Detroit Lions delivered their final disappointing performance in a season full of them, coach Jim Schwartz lobbied for another chance.
The outcome is out of his control now, and all he can do is wait to hear his fate.
Rookie Cordarrelle Patterson scored two touchdowns, the last one with just over nine minutes to play that lifted the Minnesota Vikings to a 14-13 victory over the Lions in the season finale on Sunday.
The Lions (7-9) managed just 245 yards against Minnesota’s woeful defense and lost their fourth straight game to finish yet another frustrating season.
Schwartz, who is 29-52 in five seasons, has two years left on his contract. But his talented team fell far short of expectations, and the hot-tempered coach also lost his cool with Lions fans in their home finale last week to put his job in jeopardy.
“I’d certainly like to be back,” Schwartz said. “I think we have unfinished business here. We’ve come a long way in these years, but we still have some ground that we can make and I’m anxious to have a chance to do that.”
Matthew Stafford was 22 for 33 for 217 yards and a touchdown while playing without Calvin Johnson, who missed the game with a knee injury.
They led 13-7 in the fourth quarter before Marcus Sherels returned a punt 50 yards to setup Matt Cassel’s 8-yard TD pass to Patterson, and the Vikings held on.
The Lions were in position to win the mediocre NFC North after a 40-10 pounding of Green Bay on Thanksgiving. But they didn’t win again the rest of the season, a free fall that included the home loss to the New York Giants last week that eliminated them from the playoffs.
Schwartz said last week that he regretted yelling at fans who booed the Lions toward the end of regulation in the overtime loss to the Giants. But in the end, his record more than his temper could be his undoing.
Schwartz’s winning percentage is the worst by an NFL coach in his first full five years, according to STATS research, since John McKay with expansion Tampa Bay from 1976-80.
“We’re confident in the way that we work and in what we’re doing as a team,” Schwartz said. “Obviously we didn’t win enough games this year and there’s no standard to judge other than that. And I understand that in this business.”
Schwartz said Johnson could need arthroscopic surgery in the offseason, but the Lions have bigger problems.
They lost six of their last seven games despite holding the lead in the fourth quarter in each of them and missed the playoffs for the 13th time in the last 14 seasons.
“I know we have a ways to go,” said running back Reggie Bush, who had 65 total yards and a touchdown. “The last half of the season we didn’t do a good job of finishing in the fourth quarter. I know we have a lot of room for improvement.”
Long-time center Dominic Raiola said, given the team’s overall talent and the struggles of the other three teams in the division, this season was more disappointing than the infamous 0-16 year in 2008.
“This feels worse because we had a chance to have a home playoff game and we didn’t take advantage of that,” Raiola said. “It feels like everything that needed to happen or could’ve gone our way went our way. We did not take advantage of our opportunities.”
Cassel was 20 for 33 for 189 yards with one touchdown and one interception, Patterson turned a busted end-around pass play into a dazzling 50-yard scoring run and Matt Asiata filled in for the injured Adrian Peterson with 115 yards rushing on just 14 carries to send the Vikings (5-10-1) out winners in the final game at the Metrodome.
The Vikings are beginning construction on a new stadium, and the team will play the next two seasons at the University of Minnesota.
“Just told them how proud I am of what they’ve done this season to battle through adverse moments and to finish the second half 4-3-1 against some quality, quality opponents,” said Vikings coach Leslie Frazier, who is also in danger of losing his job.
Schwartz said he expected to meet with the Ford family sometime this week to discuss things.
“I know the way this business is,” he said. “We all do. We can’t worry about decisions we don’t make. We’ve got to try our very best week in and week out, and if we do then we can accept any decision that’s made.”
NOTES: Kevin Ogletree led the Lions in receiving with five catches for 75 yards. … Louis Delmas intercepted a pass for the Lions. … Bush and fellow RB Joique Bell each finished with 500-plus yards receiving. They combined for 2,709 yards and 15 TDs.
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