Penalties Cage Lions In Dallas

By Stephen C. Smith Sr.
Updated: November 21, 2005

IRVING, Texas – The 4-6 Detroit Lions are not a very good team. But before Sunday’s game against the Dallas Cowboys, they didn’t seem to be aware of it. They probably have a clue now.

A whopping 17 penalties in their 20-7 loss – which wasn’t nearly as close as the score indicates – have a way of making that clear to anyone. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg in Detroit.

“The procedural penalties are inexcusable,” Lions coach Steve Mariucci said. “Both sides of the ball had too many and it’s really not like us. We actually had less penalties on the road than at home. Both sides of the ball were jumpy. A lot of the penalties were aggressive-type penalties.”

And some of them weren’t. In fact, the Lions should have been whistled at least 20 times due to defensive ends Cory Redding and James Hall lining up off-sides on at least three separate occasions that weren’t noticed.

“I had some discussions with the officials,” Mariucci said. “For the most part, they gave me the best explanation they could over some of the calls and non-calls. Obviously, that’s one statistic that was lop-sided.”

True. Just look at what happened on offense. For a team that spent its last six top draft picks on offensive players, the Lions are by no means an offensive juggernaut.

Quarterback Joey Harrington (17-of-25, 169 yards) and wide receiver Roy Williams, a Texas native and former University of Texas All-American, hooked up for a nearly silent 72 yards on five receptions.

Meanwhile, the mystery deepened concerning the relative non-use of fellow wide-out Charles Rogers. “I think he’s an excellent player and that we’ve got to find a way to get him more touches,” Williams said.

“Maybe they could switch us up sometimes at Z-receiver – anything to keep him involved and help this team win.” Rogers pulled down four catches for 41 yards, but didn’t start the game and was never a factor.

So what’s going on? “I don’t know,” Rogers said. “That’s a question to ask Mooch (Mariucci) or Matt (Millen)…that’s what’s I have to ask Mooch. Ask them. I’m giving you what I’m giving you.”

After brief flashes of brilliance in the early weeks of the 2003 season, Rogers suffered a broken collarbone that kept him out through the 2004 season and followed that up with a drug suspension this year.

“We didn’t get a lot of snaps in the first half,” Mariucci said. “When he (Rogers) did get in there, I thought he played well today.”

Add to this confusion a rushing game that yielded a paltry 57 yards and a defense Dallas felt comfortable enough to run on 42 times and you have the recipe for a Thanksgiving Day disaster when Michael Vick and the Falcons come calling Thursday afternoon in Detroit.

“I’m proud of our effort today, but I’m not proud of the result,” Mariucci said. “We’ve got to bounce back. Thanksgiving Day preparation starts tomorrow.”

Good luck, coach. You’re going to need it.