Lions-Raiders: This could get nasty

Oakland Raiders running back Rock Cartwright (25) pumps up the crowd during the fourth quarter of...

Oakland Raiders running back Rock Cartwright (25) pumps up the crowd during the fourth quarter of the team's NFL football game against the Chicago Bears in Oakland, California, November 27, 2011. (REUTERS/Beck Diefenbach)

Bill Lankhof, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:25 PM ET

The NFL’s nasty boys collide head on Sunday, meaning the busiest guys on the field could be the officials.

Somebody could put a sacroiliac out of joint just picking up penalty flags.

“I would imagine so based on our history, based on the Lions,” Oakland cornerback Stanford Routt said. “Obviously the refs probably will be looking for things to call.”

No “probably” about it.

When Detroit and Oakland meet it will bring together two of the dirtiest, most undisciplined and most penalized teams. Ndamukong Suh is playing his first game back after a two-game suspension and the teams have committed a league-high 27 personal fouls each.

This is mayhem, times two.

Both teams say they are committed to being good little boys. Let’s face it. It’s not in their nature. The Raiders have made bad behaviour a team trademark. The Lions are new at this but seem naturally gifted.

“It’s not like we’re ignoring it,” Raiders’ safety Matt Giordano said. “We are addressing it, and again it just comes back to poise.”

Lions head coach Jim Schwarz wants an aggressive team but even he is becoming weary of the saboteurs. “We need to be a team that doesn’t beat ourselves. We have talent, we have good schemes, good coaching. We cannot afford to be selfish and put the team at risk of taking points off the board and there’s way too much of that.”

Both have, thus far, failed miserably in controlling the miscreants among them. The Raiders lead the NFL with 130 penalties for 1,116 yards and at that pace would set NFL records in both categories. The Kansas City Chiefs set the standard in both categories in 1996 with 158 penalties for 1,304 yards.

The Lions are fourth in the NFL in penalties (105) and third in penalty yards (894).

With both teams playing for playoff survival the team that best keeps its temper in check is likely also to be the one that wins. “That’s something that coach (Hue) Jackson definitely addressed with us this week ... loudly,” said quarterback Carson Palmer said. “It’s been going on for too long. It’s something we understand can be the difference between a win and a loss.”

Carson is having enough issues getting the Oakland offence untracked lately. After initially giving the Raiders a spark, in six starts since being traded from Cincinnati, Palmer now has more interceptions than touchdowns. And, this week, they have to find a way to stop Suh, who is back from his two-game suspension.

That allows the Lions to rush four men most of the time, still get pressure, while allowing the secondary to better blanket receivers.

Meantime, Oakland’s own pass defence looks like something Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford can exploit. That doesn’t leave the Raiders, with Tebowmania already leaving them looking up at the Broncos in the standings and the Lions needing this win to solidify their own wild card hopes, room for any more mental meltdowns.

“We definitely have to play disciplined on Sunday,” said Rout.

Anything less and this could turn into Dumb & Dumber, The Sequel.

DOWN & OUT

The Jacksonville Jaguars didn’t just lose a game.

They were embarrassed.

“Right now, this is a very embarrassing loss,” running back Maurice Jones-Drew said, after a 41-14 loss to the Falcons Thursday. “I think our lack of execution hurt over and over again. We felt that our game plan was solid enough, but we just didn’t execute enough.”

Through 57 minutes the Jags had six net passing yards while allowing five sacks and three turnovers, all by quarterback Blaine Gabbert.

The only thing the Jags have going for them is Jones-Drew who had 112 yards and now leads the league in rushing and in yards per game.

HARRISON SITS

Ted Cottrell preached aggression as one of the league’s most respected defensive coordinators. And, as an NFL and CFL linebacker he wasn’t exactly a namby-pamby peacenik.

But, even he can’t condone James Harrison’s continued flouting of the NFL’s guidelines to protect players. As such, he dismissed Harrison’s appeal of his one-game suspension, resulting from a hit on Browns’ quarterback Colt McCoy.

McCoy suffered a concussion and will miss at least this weekend’s game. But it was Harrison’s history that got him suspended. The NFL cited Harrison’s history of flagrant hits — this was his fifth on a quarterback. Steelers’ teammate and fellow linebacker James Farrior said Thursday Harrison, and other players, need to change their way of playing. Not that Harrison appears to be listening. He’s already said, even with a suspension, that he won’t change how he plays.

QUICK HITS

Chris Johnson acknowledges he’s having a down year, but still believes he’s the best running back in the NFL. “No matter what this year turns out to be, I still feel I’m the best back in the NFL,” Johnson said. ‘’When I get the opportunities to get carries and be on the same page with my line and things like that, I’ve showed the type of player I am.’’ Johnson is just 16th among running backs with 875 yards ... Miami Hurricanes officials announced Friday that offensive lineman Brandon Washington and defensive end Olivier Vernon are skipping their final college seasons for the NFL draft ... Packers’ safety Nick Collins says he hopes to return next season from cervical fusion surgery but won’t risk his health to do so. “If everything’s good, then we’re going,” said Collins. “If (doctors) say there’s a slight chance of something, then that’s it.” ... Ravens’ rookie Jimmy Smith is expected to make his first NFL start with cornerback Lardarius Webb (turf toe) unable to practice.

BEARS WAIVE HURD FOLLOWING DRUG CHARGES

From the: He’s My Brother; He’s The Heavy Dept.

Bears’ receiver Roy Williams was shocked, upset and more than a little angry with teammate Sam Hurd for getting himself arrested on federal drug charges.

“I’m kind of pissed off at him, too, because it’s a really selfish act. He has let us down in the wide receiver group, in which we were so close. He let down the wide receivers coach, the head coach, the Bears organization and the city.”

Williams and Hurd have been not only teammates, but friends, playing together for two years in Dallas before both came to Chicago together last summer. Hurd has hired high-profile defence attorney, David Kenner, who successfully defended rapper Snoop Dogg against murder charges. And, the public relations war has already begun.

His sister, Jawanda Newsome, told the San Antonio Express-News, that her brother was paying to fix up their parents’ home as well as covering his younger brother’s junior college tuition. She said she worried about her brother giving away so much of his money.

He established a charitable organization, Running with the Hurd, aimed at mentoring kids. The organization sponsored a football camp in the South Texas city of Harlingen last year.

But the federal indictment indicates he might have been offering more than football advice. It is also curious that while none of the charges have been proven in court, that a friend such as Williams isn’t exactly leaping to defend him.

“Nothing,” Williams said when asked what he might tell Hurd. “He’s a grown man. It’s not like he’s 12. He knew what he was doing and what he was getting himself into. There’s nothing I can say.

“It’s tough for me, just cause I’m not into drugs or anything like that. But I know it has to be tough for him, because he has his family, and that’s a choice that he made. And there’s consequences, with the choices that you make.”

Bears GM Jerry Angelo told reporters Friday afternoon the team would waive Hurd.


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