Harrington responds to criticism

With every interception Lions quarterback Joey Harrington throws, his critics seem to become a little more vocal. Harrington recently responded to the criticism, along with Lions' head coach Steve Mariucci.

With every interception Lions quarterback Joey Harrington throws, his critics seem to become a little more vocal.

Most of the criticism is coming from the sports talk radio crowd, and the big complaint isn't Harrington's mechanical mistakes as much as it is the way he handles himself when things go wrong.

Regardless of how terrible the outcome is -- and Harrington has thrown three interceptions in each of the past two games -- he somehow finds a way to put a positive spin on it.

After the 23-13 loss to Minnesota, for instance, one of Harrington's comments was: "sometimes you're hitting them and sometimes you're not. I made a couple of bad decisions today and that's what hurt me. I don't feel any different."

That obviously is not good enough for the Harrington critics. They want some fire and brimstone, a couple of profanities perhaps, and a lot of outrage. That's not what they get from the second-year quarterback and they apparently never will.

"People can think whatever they want to think," Harrington said. "This is me. I've given you me from the start, from the day I showed up and told 'em it was `Orygun.' (Harrington played his college ball at Oregon and frequently has to correct Midwestern reporters on the pronunciation.)

"That's me, that's what I do and I'm not going to change just because people are questioning my tactics and my leadership qualities, or how I go about it."

Coach Steve Mariucci said he has no problem with Harrington's positive approach.

"Joey happens to be a very positive kind of guy, and I fail to see the negative," Mariucci said. "I think he's a guy who's up, stays up. He believes in himself and his teammates. He thinks he can, thinks he can and thinks he will. And I tend to believe that's a good quality."

With the Lions struggling with a 1-2 record and Harrington's passer rating slipping from a first-week 116.0 to a second-week 66.6 to this week's 58.9, he is getting a smattering of boos when he's introduced to the Ford Field crowd.

As is customary in NFL circles, the most popular quarterback on the team is generally the backup quarterback. For the Lions, that is third-year veteran Mike McMahon.

Some Lions fans feel McMahon should have a shot at the starting job because of his scrambling ability, although his career completion percentage is 43.9 percent.

McMahon got a big cheer when he came onto the field to replace Harrington for one play after Harrington suffered a dislocated right forefinger in the Minnesota game Sunday.

The Lions were in a third-and-11 situation at the Minnesota 32, needing just a few yards to set up a Jason Hanson field goal that would have tied the game with less than a minute to play in the half.

McMahon looked briefly for a receiver, then scrambled, giving up nine yards before being sacked and taking the Lions completely out of field goal range.

BY THE NUMBERS: 1 -- Quarterback Joey Harrington's rank on the NFL's all-time list of sacks-per-pass attempt percentage. He has been sacked only 10 times in 556 attempts for a percentage of 1.8, putting him ahead of Steve Walsh (3.04 percent) and Dan Marino (3.23 percent).


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