Jim Caldwell says Lions done talking about missed call

ByMichael Rothstein ESPN logo
Wednesday, October 7, 2015

ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Detroit Lions coach Jim Caldwell said Tuesday he is instructing his players not to talk with the media about the batted ball controversy that happened at the end of Monday night's loss to Seattlebecause he wants his team to remain focused on Sunday's game against Arizona.

"Now, you can take that situation and drag it out through the week with your players more focused in on that particular play than the opposition that we have to face in just a few days in a very, very good Arizona team," Caldwell said. "Or you can act 'woe is me' and 'bad call' and 'that went against us' and look at all those kinds of things and that can distract you, you'll get your ears kicked in come Sunday afternoon.

"We don't plan to let that happen. ... You'll know, when you talk to them [Wednesday], I'm going to tell them not to talk about it, just so you understand that," he said. "Because of the fact that we can't be hanging on something that happened a night ago that we can do nothing about. There's nothing we can do about it."

Lions receiver Calvin Johnson fumbled the ball on the 1-yard line in the fourth quarter of Monday night's 13-10 loss to Seattle. The ball bounced in the end zone, and then Seahawks linebacker K.J. Wright intentionally batted the ball out of the end zone.

The play was deemed a touchback for Seattle, but NFL officiating czar Dean Blandino said after the game the Lions should have maintained possession. Caldwell said he spoke with Blandino on Tuesday, but wouldn't reveal the contents of the conversation or say whether the league apologized.

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said Tuesday in a radio interview that he was unaware of the rule and would have done the same thing Wright did.

"That was a smart play," Carroll said during his weekly radio appearance on 710 ESPN Seattle. "He wasn't aware of the rule. I would have done the exact same thing. I didn't know that rule either. I've never even seen it come up, and I've been coaching for I don't even know how many years it is and how many games it could possibly be. I don't know if anyone would have known that. If somebody did, they did."

Caldwell's decision to keep his players silent on an issue that could be a distraction is somewhat of a contrast to what happened to the Lions last week, afterDenver Broncosplayers said they knew what plays were coming at timesduring a 24-12 win over Detroit. On his weekly radio appearance last week, Lions receiver Golden Tateconfirmed that this was a problem, saying that opposing players have made similar remarks to him in the team's first three games of the season.

When asked last Thursday whether he wished Tate had not said that, Caldwell said, "We don't try to keep our players from saying anything. I don't censor guys. That's ridiculous. I think they are being interviewed because you want to know what they think and feel. We try to give them some guidance, obviously, but other than that, you know, you got to let them be who they are."

The two situations are different, though. Last week, the issue was with the Lions' play calling, and Tate's comments were in response to what opponents had said. Monday night's issue had to do with officiating and a call that helped cost the Lions a critical game.

Caldwell declined to answer most other questions about the batted ball controversy, although he said it is not something the Lions work on much, especially in the end zone. When asked about a lot of players not knowing the rule, Caldwell said, "There's obviously officials that don't know the rule as well."

Caldwell also explained what he saw on the batted ball play in greater detail than he did Monday night.

"It's one of those situations where as we looked at it from the sideline, we saw, obviously, Calvin with the ball in his hand, the ball comes out, and then I actually saw the young man bat the ball out," Caldwell said. "So you see [field judge] Buddy Horton on the side waving his flag in his hand. He's got it clearly in his hand. I kind of took my eyes off him at that particular point in time, but they all started to confer. So I knew it was a discussion going on there just in terms of how it works.

"Once they figured they had it ironed out, obviously, it's out of our control. It had to be reviewed and looked at by them from upstairs. Once it was completed, then we had to look at ways to try and make certain we got the ball back, and so it went from there."

ESPN.com's Sheil Kapadia contributed to this report.

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