Detroit Lions head coach Jim Schwartz walks the sidelines during the third quarter of an NFL football game against the New York Giants, Sunday, Dec. 22, 2013, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
ALLEN PARK, Mich. — Jim Schwartz’s emotions have gotten the best of him at least a few times publicly as coach of the Detroit Lions.
The latest example happened in what might be the last time he leads the Lions at home.
When Detroit ran the ball instead of having turnover-prone Matthew Stafford throw late in regulation of Sunday’s 23-20 overtime loss to the New York Giants, the crowd reacted with a loud chorus of boos.
Schwartz responded by looking away from the field and toward the stands to shout something.
“I probably should have done just what I did at the end of the second quarter and just kept it in my mind,” Schwartz said Monday.
The previous day at his postgame news conference, the embattled coach insisted he wasn’t responding to the fans who voiced their displeasure with the decision to play for overtime.
Detroit had the ball at its 25 with 23 seconds and two timeouts left, needing to gain about 40 yards to give David Akers a legitimate shot to attempt a winning kick.
The Lions ran it once and let the clock run out in regulation, leading to perhaps a predictable response from a crowd that has endured a lot of losing and lost opportunities by the hapless franchise. But it was unusual to see an NFL coach shout back at jeering fans.
“I just wanted to say, ‘Don’t you know what the situation is and the risk reward of doing something other than what we did right there?” Schwartz explained.
Schwartz’s temper has flared up in the past for everyone to see.
He negated a video review and was called for unsportsmanlike conduct by angrily throwing a challenge flag last season when Houston’s Justin Forsett scored after two Lions tackled him, leading to a defeat during an eight-game, season-ending slide. The previous year, Schwartz had a heated exchange with San Francisco coach Jim Harbaugh and had to be separated following their postgame handshake.
Losing, though, is what may get Schwartz fired.
The Lions eliminated themselves from the NFC North title race by losing five of their last six games — blowing fourth-quarter lead in each of those setbacks — after a 6-3 record put them in a favorable position.
If Detroit (7-8) won one more game, it would be closing the regular season at Minnesota (4-10-1) with a chance to earn its first division title since 1993 because both Green Bay and Chicago lost on Sunday.
“That made it even tougher to swallow for sure,” Schwartz said.
Schwartz got his first shot to be a head coach in 2009 when the Lions were coming off the NFL’s first 0-16 season. The Lions improved in each of his first three seasons, including in 2011 when they ended the franchise’s 11-year postseason drought. They flopped to a 4-12 record last year and are falling apart again this season.
“We’ve come up short the last two years,” Schwartz acknowledged.
Schwartz is 29-50 overall and his .367 winning percentage is the worst by an NFL coach in his first five full seasons since John McKay won fewer than 30 percent of his games with the expansion Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 1976-1980, according to STATS.
“I know where we were when I took over and I know where we are right now,” he said. “We’re still working. We’re still battling. We still have another game to play this year.”
NOTES: Schwartz said WR Calvin Johnson, slowed by knee and ankle injuries, won’t be kept out against the Vikings unless there’s a medical reason to put him on the inactive list for the game. ... TE Dorin Dickerson and CB Bill Bentley will be evaluated this week after getting concussions against the Giants. .. Schwartz said Dickerson didn’t report his concussion to the team during the game and said Bentley was briefly unconscious.