Backus: Don't Boo Joey, Boo Me

ALLEN PARK - At the end of Sunday's tough 21-20 loss to the Carolina Panthers, the sellout crowd booed Lions quarterback Joey Harrington and chanted obscentities toward him. You had to feel for Harrington. No matter how poorly he played, he didn't deserve what the crowd presented to him.

In the post game locker room, Lions tackle Jeff Backus was incensed. Backus, while not totally absolving Harrington for the failures of the offense, said he was as much to blame as Harrington. "[That was] probably the worst game I've ever played in my life," admitted Backus. "I had four penalties called against me, obviously I did something wrong on each one."

"I don't know how many sacks they had," said Backus, "but it was a lot." (Carolina's six sacks were the most allowed by Detroit this season) It's the most we've given up in the last three years. My rookie year we had a few bad games but today was....then the crowd's sitting going "Joey Sucks". The offensive line's got to protect him and give him a chance. I mean call me out, tell me I suck, don't put it all on Joey."

He was right. Backus was whistled for three false start penalties and a holding call, then got injured. He was struggling against the speed rush of Mike Rucker who recorded 1.5 sacks for the Panthers.

Once Backus left the game, the play of the offensive line went from bad to worse. Guard Rick DeMulling, who was benched in favor of Kyle Kosier, was forced to return to the guard position with Kosier moving over to tackle. The team was totally unable to run the football mustering just 52 yards rushing. Kevin Jones got just 21 yards on 12 carries, Artose Pinner five carries for 12 yards and Shawn Bryson four carries for seven yards.

That left the Panthers free to harass Harrington into two fumbles and an interception. Backus said the Lions were unprepared for some of the things that the Panthers threw at them.

"They started off and basically they brought some fronts to stop the run and basically put it on our passing game to beat them. They started blitzing and they never let up. I didn't see most of the fourth quarter because I was in the locker room, but I'm sure they stuck with the same plan because it was working. We couldn't get a rhythm going on offense, we couldn't really get our job done up front."

With Detroit's offensive lilne struggling and the offense in general unproductive, Harrington, not the offensive line, bore the brunt of the ire of the fans.

"All I can do is keep working," said a beleagured Harrington in the locker room. " I have one job and one focus and that's getting this offense better. I can't tell you when its going to happen, I'd have liked it to have happened three weeks ago, but it hasn't.

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