Lions coach Jim Schwartz said after the 31-17 win against the Browns Sunday that halftime speeches are often overblown.
This one wasn’t.
Middle linebacker and defensive captain Stephen Tulloch went all Knute Rockne on the entire team at halftime Sunday. Although neither Tulloch nor the players would share the details, his speech hit home.
“It’s a locker-room thing,” Tulloch said. “But I’ve been on a lot of teams with some good talent. This is probably one of the best teams I’ve been on and we need to take advantage of it now. We can’t wait because the opportunities to win games are hard to come back.”
He felt the Lions were playing well below their capabilities and were in danger of giving a game away similar to the loss in Arizona in Week 2.
“We were just going through the motions of playing just to be out there,” Tulloch said. “We weren’t really playing how we play. I think we came out in the second half and exemplified what this team can do.”
The Lions won the second half 24-0.
“I really give credit to my linebacker Stephen Tulloch,” safety Louis Delmas said. “He came in here and spoke a couple of words. I’m not going to pinpoint what it was but he spoke to us and for some reason, each and every individual felt like that one person, Stephen Tulloch, was talking to them.
“I think we all got the message and went out in the second half and didn’t want to prove him wrong.”
Reggie Bush had something he wanted to get off his chest at halftime, too. He didn’t pull a Keyshawn Johnson and demand the darn ball — but pretty close. He had 14 yards in seven rushes in the first half but worse, not one single pass was thrown his way.
“There were some looks we saw I knew we could take advantage of — like me one on one with a linebacker,” he said.
Offensive coordinator Scott Linehan saw it, too. The Browns surprised the Lions by playing man coverage. They had played primarily zone their first five games.
“Scott just said, ‘Hey, they want to play man defense, let’s get Reggie matched up on No. 53,” quarterback Matthew Stafford said. “He said, ‘That’s a great matchup for us.’ ”
It was. No. 53 is linebacker Craig Robertson and Bush was able to exploit him. He got him on a cut-back run for 39 yards and he wound up with five catches for 57 yards in the second half, including a 18-yard touchdown which came on a screen pass where he was isolated on Robertson.
“He’s been doing it for years,” Robertson said. “It wasn’t the first time we’ve seen it. I felt like it was my fault on a lot of the plays. I mean, letting Reggie Bush out like that. I had him and he got out. I own up to it and I have to keep battling.”
Stafford completed 25 of his 43 passes and had a respectable quarterback rating of 95.9. But it could have been a lot better. At least six passes were dropped, four in the first half and two by Calvin Johnson.
Stafford, though, never said a word to any of his receivers.
“Those guys know I trust them,” he said. “They are going to have bad halves of football just like I am going to have bad halves of football. It happens. We are a team. We win together and we lose together.
“All I do is let them know I am going to keep coming at them.”
Patrick Edwards continues to be a mystery. He was targeted three times. Two of the passes were 50-50 balls. He didn’t catch any of them.
He made a nice diving effort on one long pass and couldn’t hold it as he crashed to the ground. The most egregious play, though, ended up being the only interception that Stafford threw.
The Lions had just cut a 10-point lead to three and were driving. On first-and-10 at the Browns’ 23, Edwards was running stride for stride with cornerback Buster Skrine. Stafford put the ball right there but Edwards didn’t go after it strong enough.
Skrine tipped it and Tashaun Gipson intercepted.
Edwards has the speed to get open, but he’s yet to show the ability to catch the ball in tight coverage.