DETROIT — The cascade of boos enveloped Ford Field late Sunday afternoon. The Detroit Lions were electing to play for overtime instead of taking a shot to win down the field, and the fans were not pleased.
So they let the Lions know it. And Detroit coach Jim Schwartz was not too happy about it.
“I was disappointed to hear boos. We’re getting ready to go to overtime right there and our crowd is great for us and they support us,” Schwartz said. “The team needed a lift right there. We didn’t need to feel bad at that point. We just intercepted a ball that got us to overtime. I thought that I was just trying to get our team ready.
“That’s tough, the situations when your players are getting booed and you want them fired up. That’s what I was trying to do right there.”
Schwartz did not indicate who he was speaking to when he started yelling at the end of regulation and it wasn’t clear from the video whether he was yelling at fans or just about the fans booing his team and the decision to not go for the win at the end of regulation.
And they were loud enough that the Lions couldn’t help but hear them.
“I don’t know how you cannot,” Schwartz said. “At that point, we’re taking a knee and after we didn’t get the yards, we just let the clock run out and we didn’t get the first down. We were trying to gather the troops and trying to get ready for overtime.
“It wasn’t like we were running another play in that situation. We were getting ready to go into overtime and our fans have been great for us but we needed them on our side in overtime.”
The Lions had lost their fifth fourth-quarter lead in sixth games on the way to the eventual 23-20 loss in overtime. At least some of the Detroit players backed their coach in getting angry about the boos.
“Fans are frustrated but what do you think we are?” receiver Nate Burleson said. “I get it, you come in and sit down and you cheer loud and occasionally want to get upset and boo.
“But if the fans are frustrated, just imagine what we feel on the field. And I think maybe Schwartz was just speaking out because the same fans that boo turn around and go crazy when we get the lead.
“So I get it. I’ve been playing long enough to where I don’t get upset when fans boo. You pay a ticket, you buy the jerseys, you have your right to go out there and show your emotions.”
Burleson said he wanted to turn to the fans to say something more than once Sunday, but held back.
“I’m not mad at him for doing it,” Burleson said. “As many times as I wanted to, I kind of stopped myself from saying something to a fan or two that, you know, I probably shouldn’t have.
“But it’s frustrating when you hear them boo because the same fan will turn around and praise you when it’s all good.”
- Previously covered University of Michigan for ESPN.com and AnnArbor.com
- Also covered Notre Dame for Fort Wayne Journal Gazette