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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Ill-Timed Time-Out Dooms Lions, Maybe Fontes


SAN DIEGO, California -- Applications to coach the Detroit Lions will most likely be accepted soon at 1200 Featherstone, Pontiac, MI 48342.

References are not as important as knowing not to call a time-out when leading 14-10 with 37 seconds remaining in the first half, and thereby giving the other team, which has no time-outs remaining, at least three more downs and a rainbow heave to the end zone to grab the lead.

Prior experience obviously did not factor into Wayne Fontes', and his team's, decision Monday night, and as a result, the coaching faux pas propelled the Chargers to a 27-21 Monday night victory over the Lions before 60,425 in San Diego Jack Murphy Stadium.

The Lions' time-out -- called, Fontes said later, because his team had 12 men on the field -- which coupled oddly enough with an offside call on San Diego center Courtney Hall two plays later, gave the Chargers two prized seconds and one more chance to score before halftime.

The Chargers had the ball at their own 48 after a 12-yard loss on first down, and 37 seconds remaining in the half with no time-outs. Fontes said defensive back Corey Raymond "noticed a problem'' on the field and signaled for the time-out.

The Chargers regrouped and gained 11 yards on the following play and were sitting third and 17 at the Detroit 41 with the clock running down inside 12 seconds. Hall snapped the ball to quarterback Stan Humphries, but referee Dale Hamer called Hall for offsides, and by rule, ran 10 seconds off the clock. With no chance to work the ball into field-goal position for John Carney now, the Chargers had to go for the end zone.

This appeared to confuse Fontes & Co., who sent 12 men on the field, including wide receiver and former college high jumper Herman Moore, to defend the final play. Humphries, meanwhile, let loose with a long pass to the corner of the end zone.

McNeil, in position to make an interception, raised his arms and leaped to make the catch, but the ball sailed through his makeshift uprights untouched and into the chest of Charger wide receiver Andre Coleman for a 46-yard touchdown, giving San Diego a 17-14 lead.

The big play of the game was Coleman's first NFL receiving touchdown, and probably the last chapter in Fontes' rocky 66-66 overall career record as Detroit's head coach.

The Lions, who won seven in a row a year ago after owner William Clay Ford's "make the playoffs or else'' ultimatum, earned a stay of firing for Fontes. But this season they have not defeated a team with a winning record. And the Lions are now -- at best -- two games out of the running for the final NFC wild card spot.


The Washington Redskins suffered a major blow when Ed Simmons, the team's most effective run and pass blocker, underwent arthroscopic surgery Monday night at a local hospital on his right knee.

Simmons could miss three to four weeks and will be replaced Sunday at Philadelphia by Shar Pourdanesh.

Also, Marc Boutte might not be able to play after re-injuring his right knee in Sunday's loss to Arizona.


San Francisco 49er Steve Young, staggered by a second concussion in three weeks was described as "very doubtful'' for San Francisco's upcoming game against Baltimore, though coach George Seifert left open a slight possibility that he could suit up if he receives clearance from his neurologist.


Lou Tepper was fired as football coach at the University of Illinois.

"I would hope that the fans will support their [players'] efforts the rest of the season and during the transition to the new staff,'' Tepper said in a statement Monday.

Illinois (2-7, 1-5 Big Ten) lost its first three games by a combined score of 116-11. ()