The Lions dropped another heartbreaker on Sunday, eliminating them from playoff contention and likely ending head coach Jim Schwartz‘s tenure with the team.
Detroit fans’ frustration with the coach came to a head late in the fourth quarter, opening up a chorus of boos after Schwartz decided to play for overtime despite having two timeouts remaining.
Television cameras appeared to show Schwartz yelling back at the feverish crowd, but he said after the game — an eventual 23-20 loss to the Giants — that his heated words were only directed at his players.
“I wasn’t addressing the crowd, I was just trying to get our team fired up,” Schwartz said, via MLive.com. “I think the psyche of the team at that point, we needed to have that spark. We needed to feel like we’re going out here and overtime and we’re going to go win it. That’s the only thing I was doing there.”
Lions wide receiver Nate Burleson, however, said that yelling at fans was exactly what Schwartz was doing.
“When the fans are booing that loudly for the home team, when you still have an opportunity to win the game, sometimes it comes out,” Burleson said. “I’ll be honest, I wanted to turn around and say something on more than one occasion.
“I’m not mad at [Schwartz] for doing it because for as many times as I wanted to, and I kind of stopped myself from saying something to a fan or two that I probably shouldn’t have.”
Detroit held a 20-13 lead with less than five minutes remaining in the fourth before Will Hill picked off Matt Stafford and returned it 38 yards to the house to tie the game. The Lions got ball back three more times after Hill’s score, but they managed a total of 23 yards on nine plays. They also went three-and-out on their lone drive in overtime.
The loss was Detroit’s fifth in six weeks after beginning the season 6-4.
See Schwartz’s outburst for yourself in the GIF below, courtesy of SB Nation.