September 12, 2010 at 11:52 pm

Mike O'Hara: Burning Questions

Jim Schwartz won't pin Lions' loss on one controversial call

Officials try to explain to Lions coach Jim Schwartz the ruling on Calvin Johnson's incomplete touchdown catch in the final seconds. (Daniel Mears / The Detroit News)

Chicago

One play -- Calvin Johnson's apparent 25-yard catch that didn't count for a touchdown according to NFL rules -- will haunt the Lions from Sunday's 19-14 loss to the Bears at Soldier Field.

As dramatic and controversial as the play with 24 seconds left might have been, there were 126 other plays from scrimmage that also had an impact on the game. Those plays kept Lions coach Jim Schwartz from pinning the loss on the one play.

"The time I stand up here blaming the officials for a loss is the time I don't have to do this anymore," Schwartz said.

There were the following other burning questions from the game -- the impact of quarterback Matthew Stafford's injured right shoulder, key defensive breakdowns, and an offense that came up surprisingly flat:

Q . How bad is Stafford's injury?

A . The Lions weren't saying after the game, but it doesn't look like he'll play in the next week or two. After the game, Stafford indicated he hadn't had an X-ray, and Schwartz said he needed more tests in Detroit.

"We still have to do all the tests, but it was significant to not put him back in the game," Schwartz said.

Translation: Get ready for Shaun Hill, at least for a short while.

Q . The offense was supposed to carry the team, but it misfired throughout the game, generating only 13 first downs and no running attack. Why so ineffective?

A . It misfired with Stafford in the game and was worse under Hill. Most surprising was the running game. Rookie Jahvid Best scored two touchdowns, but he looked tentative and indecisive. He didn't slash through the holes.

Best looked good on his two touchdown runs -- 7 and 4 yards in the first half. But his other 12 carries totaled only 9 yards.

Best has been called the Lions' best back since Barry Sanders. Even Barry's shadow could gain 20 yards on 14 carries.

Q . How big was the defense's goal-line stand in the fourth quarter, when it held the Bears on four tries inside the 1?

A . Even though there were almost nine minutes left after the fourth-down stop, it looked like a winning stand. It kept the Lions' lead at 14-13.

"It was big," said Kyle Vanden Bosch, who was even better than advertised at defensive end. "It showed a lot about the attitude of this defense, and about the guys we have up front."

Q . The defense had three costly breakdowns. What happened on the first?

A . The first was Matt Forte's 89-yard catch and run with a screen pass for a TD with 1:03 left in the half. Linebacker Julian Peterson said the Bears' formation put the defense in a bad situation, with three receivers split to the opposite side.

"That was one of those plays, I wish we all could take back," he said. "Everybody was shifted over. The angles were wrong."

Q . There were two bad plays on the winning TD drive that ended in Forte's 28-yard catch with 1:32 left. What happened there?

A . First, on a second-and-20, they let Chester Taylor got loose for an 18-yard catch. That made it third-and-2. It let the offense off the hook. It could dictate to the defense. On the winner, Peterson said he slightly misplayed the ball as he trailed Forte down the left sideline.

Q . Back to the goal-line stand. What did it say when Bears coach Lovie Smith bypassed the go-ahead field goal to go for a TD?

A . That Smith had no fear of the Lions' offense. But it was a bad decision by Smith. Kick the field goal, take the lead, and keep the Lions' offense out of the game.

Q . Bottom line on the Johnson play. Should it have been ruled a catch?

A . Yes. According to the rule, a player has to maintain control when he goes to the ground. My view was that Johnson had both feet and a knee on the ground before he let the ball go.

Peterson has said he thinks winning franchises get the breaks, and he said it again Sunday.

"The Detroit Lions? You never get breaks."

Burning questions

Center Dominic Raiola protects quarterback Matthew Stafford during the ... (Daniel Mears / The Detroit News)