What Detroit Lions’ Mike Ford should learn from his taunting penalty

Detroit Free Press

Carlos Monarrez
| Detroit Free Press

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In a game full of low points, Mike Ford’s taunting penalty with the Detroit Lions down by more than 30 points against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Saturday was among the lowest.

Ford, the Lions’ third-year cornerback and special teams ace, was called for taunting after Jamal Agnew’s 74-yard punt return touchdown cut the Bucs’ lead to 40-7 with 9:20 left in the third quarter.

Ford went up against Bucs gunner Ryan Smith on Agnew’s return. Ford did a good job forcing Smith inside and away from Agnew’s running lane. As Agnew darted toward the end zone, Smith made one last dive at Agnew’s feet, around midfield. When Agnew scored, Ford stood over Smith on the ground and taunted him with a visible gesture.

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The unsportsmanlike penalty cost the Lions 15 yards on the ensuing kickoff and also kicked the hornet’s nest. Kenjon Barner returned Jack Fox’s 73-yard kickoff to the Tampa 37 and the Bucs scored four plays later.

Special teams assistant coach Marquice Williams, who took over for fired coordinator Brayden Coombs, said he spoke about the penalty with Ford and emphasized the need to put the team ahead of any personal decisions.

“You know, No. 1 let’s celebrate with our team, you know?” Williams said Wednesday during a conference call. “Our players, the guys in this building are the most important players on the sideline. So it’s a learnable lesson. It’s unfortunate that it happened.

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“With Mike, just talked to him like, ‘Hey, understanding the consequence of that happening and how it affects the next play.’ Which it affected us on kickoff, kicking the ball off from the 20, covering downfield and now they get the ball around the 37-yard line. We hurt our defense. So be able to, No. 1, protect our team by any means necessary, whether it’s preventing any penalties or any stuff like that. So it’s a learnable lesson, we talked about it. We’re going to grow and develop and learn from that situation.”

Contact Carlos Monarrez at cmonarrez@freepress.com and follow him on Twitter @cmonarrez.

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