Phoenix — Before the Lions hosted the Buffalo Bills in Week 5, Jim Schwartz said he was approaching it like any other game. Obviously, when two Bills players carried their defensive coordinator on their shoulders after Buffalo won the game, it was clear how important the game was to the former Lions head coach.
As it turns out, Schwartz provided plenty of insight into how to beat the Lions in the practices leading up to the game.
"He was in the scout team huddle saying how he expected guys to run routes and how running backs would run and find what holes just because he was there and he knew them," Bills running back Fred Jackson said Wednesday at the Super Bowl's radio row. "He gave us first-hand perspective."
Having coached the Lions for five seasons, Schwartz knew plenty about a number of players. Even though he was coaching the defense in Buffalo, he shared some of his knowledge with the offensive players, too, and made sure the entire team was operating at its peak. The Bills won, 17-14, with a winning 58-yard field goal from Dan Carpenter with 4 seconds left.
"You could tell just by the way that he practiced or when we were at practice and how well he wanted things to go," Jackson said. "It was one that we knew meant a lot to him, and it was great that we were able to get that win for him."
Even though the Bills defense finished fourth in yards and points allowed and first with 54 sacks in 2014, Schwartz will not return to Buffalo. Coach Doug Marrone opted out of his contract after the season, and new coach Rex Ryan brought Dennis Thurman to replace Schwartz.
"He was a guy who made those guys aggressive and put them in the right places to make plays, and you saw it," Jackson said of Schwartz's impact. "That's why they had a league high in sacks and we had a bunch of different people who had double digits in sacks just because he created a lot of different havoc and brought people from all over the place.
"Jim was a guy that guys loved playing for, so it'll be interesting to see how they react and play for a different coordinator."
And even though some Lions players and plenty of fans took issue with Schwartz being carried off the field, Jackson saw no problem with it.
"One of the things about this game is it's a win league, but at the same time, you've got to have fun doing it," he said. "To be able to win and carry him off in that fashion was a lot of fun."