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Published: Monday, 12/27/2010

Lions' Schwartz a wary winner

Detroit's DeAndre Levy manages to escape the grasp of Dolphins defender John Kerry last Sunday during the Lions' win in Miami. Detroit's DeAndre Levy manages to escape the grasp of Dolphins defender John Kerry last Sunday during the Lions' win in Miami.
J PAT CARTER / AP Enlarge

ALLEN PARK, Mich. — Detroit Lions coach Jim Schwartz is encouraged his team has been good enough to win three consecutive games for the first time in three-plus years.

Schwartz, though, isn't going overboard about the rare feat.

"There's still a lot of things we need to take care of," he said Monday. "We don't think we've arrived."

The Lions overcame a double-digit deficit with 17 points in a 2:26 stretch late in the fourth quarter Sunday to beat the Miami Dolphins 34-27.

Detroit quarterback Shaun Hill, who started instead of banged-up Drew Stanton two days after Matthew Stafford went on injured reserve, said the winning streak was "absolutely wonderful," after losing six games by five or fewer points.

"We were just due for a break or two," Hill said.

The Lions (5-10) might get one in Week 17 because they're playing host to Minnesota (5-9) just five days after it plays a postponed game at Philadelphia.

Schwartz said the quick turnaround might help the Vikings because Detroit won't know who they're starting at quarterback — perhaps Brett Favre in his finale — until much later in the week.

If the Lions beat Minnesota, they will avoid finishing last in the division for the third straight year and seventh time in 10 seasons.

"We certainly don't aspire to third-place finishes, but it's better than fourth," Schwartz said. "The main thing is winning games.

"We're not going to have a rally cry: ‘Hey, this is for third!' "

Detroit hopes to have receiver Calvin Johnson (ankle), cornerback Chris Houston (shoulder), and safety Louis Delmas (concussion) in the lineup against Minnesota, but doesn't expect linebacker Landon Johnson (concussion) to play Sunday at Ford Field.

Detroit previously defeated playoff-contending Tampa Bay and Green Bay, giving the franchise its first three-game winning streak since the first half of the 2007 season and its first in December since 1995.

Schwartz said his players, especially offensive captain Dominic Raiola, have to do a better job of dealing with success. Raiola faces NFL and team discipline after the center was filmed responding to a fan in Miami with obscene words and a hand gesture as he walked off the field. The league and the Lions are reviewing Raiola's actions.

"There's potential for team discipline," Schwartz said.

Raiola was fined $7,500 by the Lions two years ago for inappropriate conduct directed toward fans during a loss at home to Minnesota and has said "doing stuff with the crowd," led to another fine from former coach Steve Mariucci.

Schwartz said fans will say anything to incite athletes, but said that's not an excuse.

"We need to keep our composure," he said. "The best way to do it is not acknowledge it."



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