Inside Slant

Inside slant on the Detroit Lions, including an update on Matt Millen's post-game comments to Johnnie Morton, and notes on QB Mike McMahon, Luther Elliss, Barrett Green and more inside.

INSIDE SLANT

Team president Matt Millen has gotten himself in hot water for the third time in the last two years, this time because of a hostile exchange of insults with former Lions wide receiver Johnnie Morton, now playing with Kansas City.

Millen was in the process of congratulating a number of Chiefs players on their 45-17 victory over the Lions when Morton walked past the group on his way to the Kansas City locker room.

Millen called his name, apparently in an attempt to get Morton's attention, congratulate him and wish him good luck in the upcoming NFL playoffs.

Morton ignored Millen initially, but then shouted back over his shoulder with something different than the "kiss my ass" comment he claims he said.

Millen responded -- by his own admission -- by calling Morton a "faggot."

Millen apologized in a prepared statement released by the Lions later Sunday evening after learning the Kansas City Star was publishing an account of the incident.

"When I called out to him, he just kept walking and then he made a derogatory remark toward me, which really upset me," Millen said in the statement.

"Unfortunately, I retaliated with a derogatory term directed toward Johnnie. I apologize if I offended anyone. It was certainly not meant to do anything other than express my frustration and disappointment."

NOTES, QUOTES, ANECDOTES

--QB Mike McMahon, who has thrown only 20 passes and completed only five for 51 yards in two appearances as the backup to QB Joey Harrington, might get some playing time in one or both of the last two games. Coach Steve Mariucci wants to get a better picture of McMahon's abilities before the end of the season.

--DT Luther Elliss reported back to work Monday with a headache, the result of a concussion he suffered Sunday. It is unclear if he will be able to play in next week's game at Carolina.

--LB Barrett Green suffered a slight concussion as well as a mild ankle sprain Sunday. The Lions aren't expected to know until later in the week if he will be able to play at Carolina next Sunday.

--OG Matt Joyce started in place of Eric Beverly at LG Sunday but left the game early after suffering a sprained elbow. If Joyce is unable to play it is likely the Lions will start Kerlin Blaise, who got about 20 snaps after Joyce was injured.

--LG Eric Beverly became the 14th Lions player to go on injured reserve. He suffered a high ankle sprain in the loss to San Diego on Dec. 14 and is not expected to recover before the end of the season.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "Certainly, it follows us around and at some point we've got to snap that streak. Then we'll quit talking about it, but I'm sure, until we do, we're going to keep discussing it." -- Lions coach Steve Mariucci on the team's NFL record-tying 23-game road losing streak.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

REPORT CARD VS. CHIEFS

PASSING OFFENSE: C -- The passing game wasn't awful; there just wasn't enough of the Lions pop-gun offense to compete with the cannon blasts coming from the Chiefs. Lions WRs Az-Zahir Hakim and Reggie Swinton, and FB Cory Schlesinger all dropped at least one pass but QB Joey Harrington can't complain because Hakim and Swinton also made a couple of outstanding catches.

RUSHING OFFENSE: C -- RB Shawn Bryson got the Lions' first 100-yard rushing game in more than a year, gaining 105 yards on 18 carries. However, more attention was focused on rookie RB Artose Pinner, making his first NFL appearance with 26 yards on nine carries and catching a 21-yard pass.

PASS DEFENSE: F -- Without any kind of pass rush pressure, the Lions were incapable of keeping a lid on Chiefs QB Trent Green, who earned the maximum 158.3 passer rating for the game. He completed 20 of 25 passes for 341 yards and three TDs before leaving the game after three quarters.

RUSH DEFENSE: D-minus -- Even an average NFL RB could have hit the holes the Kansas City offensive line was opening in the Lions defense, virtually neutralizing DTs Dan Wilkinson and Shaun Rogers in the process. Poor tackling once again was a factor. But, mostly, RB Priest Holmes was quicker and better than anyone the Lions had on the field.

SPECIAL TEAMS: C-plus -- The Lions succeeded in keeping Chiefs KR Dante' Hall out of the end zone, thanks to PK Jason Hanson. Hanson knocked Hall out of bounds after his longest KOR of the game -- a 49-yarder. Backup KR Reggie Swinton was pressed into service again for injured Eddie Drummond and averaged 27.1 yards on seven kickoff returns.

COACHING: D -- More than anything else, the Lions were simply overmatched in this game, especially on the defensive side. They looked inept and slow trying to stop the Chiefs offense. Coach Steve Mariucci is fighting an uphill battle trying to motivate a team that -- for the third consecutive year -- has nothing to play for in December.


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