BEREA — Receiver Chansi Stuckey said what coach Eric Mangini suggested: The Lions faked injuries Sunday to disrupt the Browns’ no-huddle offense.
“Oh, definitely, yeah,” Stuckey said Monday. “I knew that, I knew that. That’s what their coach does.
“I would do the same thing.”
“I’m just saying there were a lot of them,” Mangini said of the injuries.
The Browns went almost exclusively to the no huddle Nov. 16 against the Ravens, after not using it for the first eight games. The Browns accused Lions coach Jim Schwartz of directing players to fake injuries to stop the clock, substitute and disrupt the rhythm of the offense.
On six occasions Lions defenders left their 38-37 win with injuries. In most instances, they returned within a short period.
Mangini first made an issue of it in his postgame news conference.
“There were multiple, multiple, multiple injuries throughout our no-huddle process,” he said, unprovoked. “They all came back.”
Schwartz refuted the allegations.
“He’s way out of bounds on that,” he said Monday. “That couldn’t be further from the truth.
“Both teams were running no huddle, and the officials did a very good job of standing over the ball, so there was no need to do that.”
If the offense substitutes, the defense gets the chance to substitute, and the official stands over the ball to prevent the offense from snapping it before the defense is ready. If the offense doesn’t change personnel, the defense must substitute at its own risk.
Mangini and Schwartz started their NFL careers in Cleveland under Bill Belichick in the 1990s and remain friends.
“I haven’t talked to him about it,” Mangini said. “It’s, um ... there’s no penalty and, um, maybe all those guys were legitimately injured. Everybody makes that decision.”
In 2007, Mangini accused the Patriots and his mentor, Belichick, of taping the Jets’ defensive signals. “Spygate” erupted into a controversy, ruined the relationship between the men and the league fined Belichick $500,000 and the Patriots $250,000 and took away a first-round draft pick.
Stuckey said stopping the game enables the defense to rotate defensive linemen, who are the heaviest and get winded the quickest rushing the passer.
“They’re getting tired, so someone has to do something like that to try to slow us down and stop the rhythm and try to get some fresh guys on the field,” he said. “If someone tries to do that to us, I would expect our guys to do the same thing.”
Mangini, who was also upset about the pass interference penalty on the final play that gave the Lions another chance to win the game, was New England’s secondary coach in 2003 when linebacker Willie McGinest was accused of faking an injury late in a game against the Colts and returning. Mangini didn’t rule out having his defense fake injuries in the future.
“I’ve never been in that situation,” he said. “I’d like us to be able to adjust to the no huddle through our preparation.
“If they’re having injuries and need to take a breather and have to be re-evaluated during the no huddle, it’s something to consider.”
Finding ways to slow down a fast-paced no-huddle attack is nothing new. Belichick was “credited” with having his Giants defense suffer cramps in the Super Bowl win over the Bills in 1990. Bills quarterback Jim Kelly led the league in passing and was a master running the no-huddle offense.
Mangini said there’s nothing an offense can do when a player has — or pretends to have — an injury.
“It’s subjective,” he said. “How do you know what is and isn’t an injury?”
The Lions’ injuries were a hot topic among the Browns on Sunday during and after the game. Center Alex Mack said quarterbacks Derek Anderson and Brady Quinn discussed it on the bus ride home. The Browns finished with a season-high 439 yards.
“A guy would go down hurt every few downs and then they’d have time to get everything set and then the next play, the guy would be back in. So I don’t know if it’s true or not,” Mack said. “Way back in high school, it was ‘if you’re not cheating, you’re not trying.’ Just don’t get caught.”
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