ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Detroit Lions coach Jim Caldwell had no interest in complaining Monday about the overturned Golden Tate touchdown and consequent 10-second runoff that turned his team from winners to losers against the Atlanta Falcons.
Caldwell dismissed questions about whether there should have been more than 10 seconds on the clock when the play was stopped -- which would have given Detroit more time. Caldwell said there were eight seconds remaining on the clock.
"I think everybody can split hairs and look at it differently and all that kind of stuff," Caldwell said. "I like to deal with reality, and the reality of it is it doesn't do any good to complain about it. Doesn't do any good to say 'maybe,' 'perhaps.' It's over and done with. We lost the game.
"They applied the rule as the rule stood correctly, and that's it. End of story."
Caldwell said plays typically take four seconds to run; the final play of the game started with 12 seconds left. He said the Lions had not specifically used a stopwatch to time the length of the final play, but that they have an idea of how long it should take because of their work on clock management.
Caldwell also declined to say why the Lions chose to run a play theoretically designed to have the first read be short of the end zone. Tate, the receiver on the play, appeared to be impeded on what seemed to be a timing route. Caldwell declined to say whether Tate was supposed to be in the end zone if the play had been completely clean.
"Yeah, you know, there's a number of different things, reasons, why you could look back and say why and why you did not," Caldwell said. "I think that's what makes our sport interesting. What we did is what we did. It didn't work, and that's it."
The officials initially ruled the play a Tate touchdown; upon review, it was overturned when Tate's left knee was shown to have hit the ground and Atlanta defensive back Brian Poole had been shown to touch him, marking him down. The overturned play, combined with the Lions having no timeouts, resulted in the 10-second runoff, ending the game and giving Atlanta a 30-26 win.
After the game, opinions of Lions players ranged from anger -- Cornelius Washington said the Lions "got hosed by the refs" -- to understanding the rule and the runoff.
"I remember growing up, you guys always talked about a loser's limp, you know," Caldwell said. "To me, that's the next thing to it. You start complaining about stuff -- this should have happened this way -- and you forget about that.
"You got to do something about it rather than talk about it. I don't believe in excuses and all those kinds of things. They don't work. And they are not good for us. We just need to go back to work."
Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford reiterated on WJR-AM Radio in Detroit on Monday that he knew the 10-second runoff rule and once he realized it was being reviewed, he knew it would be the ballgame either way. He also had no issues with the play that was called.
"This is a play that is designed to get in the end zone," Stafford said. "I love the call. I thought it was a great call. Nine-point-nine times out of 10 we're getting in and scoring. It just didn't happen for us on that play."
Stafford also said the Lions practice getting final plays off fast for situations like this -- not reviews, but being down. He said that had the Lions gotten one more play, he thinks it would have been "easiest" for them to "keep it in pass mode." He felt Detroit could have gotten a play off, "but, you know, that's the rule."