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Josh Katzenstein's Four Downs: Jim Caldwell gets snippy

Josh Katzenstein
The Detroit News

First down

Aaron Rodgers was clearly a step slower than usual even before aggravating his left calf injury late in the second quarter. And when he returned, Rodgers' mobility was even more limited.

But for some reason, the Lions rarely blitzed Rodgers, and he used quick passes to beat their man-to-man coverage and negate what's been a stout defensive line for most of the season. The Lions had one sack and it was on Matt Flynn during his brief relief of Rodgers early in the third quarter.

And coach Jim Caldwell was in no mood to discuss why the Lions didn't blitz more when a reporter asked him after the game.

"You're probably getting into some areas where you don't know what you're talking about," he said. "And first of all, because of the fact that we have to look at this guy for what he's done. If you look at the number of times when he gets blitzed what happens, you look at the number of times people play zones against him what happens."

"When you start looking at all those things, breaking them down, looking at those things, then you might be qualified to ask me that question, but you're not. I'm going to move on."

The reporter then tried to explain why he asked the question and Caldwell continued with a response that could soon wind up in a Coors Light commercial, as MLive.com's Justin Rogers suggested.

"You questioned what our defensive staff and set and what we're doing and that kind of thing," Caldwell said. "Do your homework and then maybe you can ask that question. Next question."

Second down

Jim Caldwell also had no interest in talking about why running back Joique Bell had just two carries in the second half.

"Circumstances, score, etc." he said.

Bell ran 11 times for 58 yards in the first half and just twice for 2 yards in the second half. The Lions ran just eight times in the second half, and Matthew Stafford's late 18-yard run helped them have finish with 111 yards on the ground. Reggie Bush finished with five carries for 19 yards.

Early in the fourth quarter, Stafford and Bell fumbled a handoff — Stafford was credited for it — and the Packers recovered and marched to a touchdown to take a 28-14 lead. Bell also fumbled late in the first quarter, but the Lions recovered.

So even if the Lions wanted to punish Bell, the timing was illogical. Bush was on the field for the Lions' first two snaps of the second half, running for no gain on the first. Bush had three catches for 22 yards, but he and Stafford were out of sync for his other three targets.

Bell didn't have a target in the passing game, just the second time this season that's happened.

Third down

Jim Caldwell made a couple gutsy fourth-down calls, but the most notable thing he did was challenge a play which the Lions had just about zero chance to win.

Packers running back Eddie Lacy made a diving catch on third-and-3 late in the third quarter and rolled his way to a first down before linebacker DeAndre Levy hit him and knocked the ball free. Cornerback Rashean Mathis recovered, but it was clear Lacy was down as soon as Levy hit him.

"It was worth it," Caldwell said. "That's a tough situation, and it was one that we thought that there was a chance that he hit the ball first as opposed to his arm first."

Caldwell was defensive when asked for further explanation.

"I know you probably listen to the broadcast, but if you look at the rule — the official explained it to me in detail — if he would've hit the ball first when the ball came out, we would've had a chance at it. But they ruled otherwise."

Fourth down

Early in the season, missed field goals were the Achilles heel of the Lions' special teams, but now, it appears everything can be a problem from week to week.

On Sunday, the Lions gave up a 55-yard punt return touchdown to Micah Hyde in the first quarter, and punter Sam Martin had a kickoff go out of bounds in the third quarter to give the Packers the ball at the 40.

Jeremy Ross had a 41-yard kickoff return, but didn't give the Lions good field position on any others. Isa Abdul-Quddus also blocked a 52-yard field goal, and the Lions recovered Martin's free kick of a safety, ensuring it wasn't all bad for the third phase.

jkatzenstein@detroitnews.com

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