Lions stars show tension on the sideline

The Lions could be feeling the pressure of another losing season. Their star offensive players, first overall draft pick Matthew Stafford, and receiver Calvin Johnson were shown on camera with some tense sideline moments between them.

Uh-oh. As if Sunday's 32-20 loss at Seattle weren't bad enough for the Lions, who blew a 17-0 first-quarter lead and fell to 1-7, TV cameras caught a tiff between quarterback Matthew Stafford and wide receiver Calvin Johnson on the sideline.

Stafford and Johnson were on the field together for the first time in a month after battling right knee injuries, and they seemed out of sync. Stafford threw five interceptions. Although Stafford targeted Johnson nine times, Johnson caught only two passes for 27 yards.

Replays showed Stafford trying to talk to Johnson at one point, and Johnson turned his head away and didn't respond. While Stafford was unavailable for comment the day after the game, Johnson and coach Jim Schwartz played down the incident.

"There's no problem with us," Johnson told reporters. "People are just blowing that out of proportion.

Asked whether he had seen the replay, Johnson said he didn't need to.

"I don't care to see it," Johnson said. "I know there's nothing. I was there. So it's no problem."

Schwartz said it was just the heat of battle and tried to keep it in context.

"There's no issue there," Schwartz said. "I've talked to the players. I haven't looked at TV copies or anything else. Good gracious, if there was a camera on every single person on every single play, you could read between the lines on a million different things."

Asked whether it's expected to have tension between the quarterback and a receiver, Schwartz said: "You want to be happy and cheerful, and you want to win football games, and there are things that you have to work through. There are going to be times that you need to talk things out and stuff like that.

"I don't even see it as being an issue. I know it's not for the players, and I don't understand why somebody would make an issue when it's not even an issue."

Why were the Lions unable to get the ball to Johnson? Schwartz pointed out that one big catch was nullified because Johnson came down out of bounds and that the Seahawks played a lot of Cover 2, keeping their safeties deep to smother Johnson.

"Defenses know he's a great player," Schwartz said. "They know what he's capable of doing, and they're going to try to take everything that they can to keep him from making plays down the field."

NOTES

  • QB Matthew Stafford threw five interceptions Sunday at Seattle, the worst performance of his rookie season thus far. It was his second game since returning from a right knee injury.

  • RB Kevin Smith finally broke a run longer than 20 yards, busting a 31-yarder Sunday. But he probably could have had more yards on that run, and he finished with 67 yards on 13 carries.

  • TE Brandon Pettigrew had the best game of his rookie season thus far, catching more passes (seven) for more yards (70) than before and leading the team in receiving. He caught his first NFL touchdown pass.

  • WR Calvin Johnson caught only two passes for 27 yards Sunday, even though he was targeted nine times. He returned after missing two games with a right knee injury.

  • WR Bryant Johnson made a spectacular 29-yard touchdown catch, corralling the ball with his left arm and bringing it into his body as he held off a defender. But he caught only one 6-yard pass the rest of the game.

  • LB Ernie Sims suffered a hamstring injury Sunday. Coach Jim Schwartz said it had the potential to be significant, and he has used that language in the past only when a player had the potential to go on injured reserve.

  • S Louis Delmas suffered a right leg injury Sunday. Coach Jim Schwartz said it likely was only of the bumps-and-bruises variety.

  • LB Julian Peterson got some revenge against the Seahawks, the team that traded him to Detroit in the offseason, by forcing a fumble in the first quarter Sunday.

  • WR Derrick Williams didn't have a pass thrown to him Sunday, but he filled the No. 3 receiver role.

  • WR Dennis Northcutt lost the No. 3 receiver role and didn't have a pass thrown to him Sunday, after dropping three passes the previous week against St. Louis.


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