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Schwartz: Peppers 'clotheslined' Johnson on fumble play

Lions coach Jim Schwartz disputed several key penalties called on his team against the Bears on Sunday and added that Julius Peppers could have been called for clotheslining Calvin Johnson on the first-quarter play that forced a fumble and led to the Bears first touchdown.

The Peppers-Johnson play happened on the Lions’ opening possession of the game. After Matthew Stafford threw a short pass to Johnson, Peppers reached around Johnson’s neck, first with one arm, then with two and knocked the ball loose. Brian Urlacher recovered and the Bears scored a touchdown four plays later for the 7-0 lead.

”Julius goes into attack Calvin. He hits him with a clothesline — technically that’s a penalty,” Schwartz told Detroit-area reporters at his Monday press conference. ”You don’t hear us saying that’s a dirty play.”

The Lions were called for six penalties in the game, including unnecessary roughness on Kyle Vanden Bosch for a late hit on Matt Forte in the first quarter; a face mask penalty on Cliff Avril against Matt Forte; roughing-the-passer on rookie Nick Fairley against Jay Cutler and a chop block by center Dominic Raiola against Henry Melton. Ndamukong Suh also ripped the helmet off Cutler’s head with no call.

”It was a tough, physical game,” Schwartz said. ”They’re a tough, physical team. I think we’re a tough, physical team.

Nick Fairley’s play — he’s got contact with the quarterback while the ball’s still in his hand. He’s trying to get his first NFL sack for a safety. What he did was he tucked as he [brought him down] rather than just keep on pushing. That’s not a dirty play — good gracious.

Cliff Avril gets a face mask. He grazes the face mask. I mean, the guy’s head turns a little bit, which is going to get the flag. Did he hold on to it and do anything? No.

Suh’s going after the quarterback, who’s trying to make a move. He’s not trying to go down. He’s trying to make a move down the field again. But he sees the defender and he goes down. And Ndamukong’s here and he ducks right into it.”

Schwartz was not asked about the Stafford-D.J. Moore bout that precipitated a major brawl in the fourth quarter, which led to Moore’s ejection. But Bears coach Lovie Smith said Monday he thought Stafford also should have been ejected.

Both coaches, though, seemed to hope there would no be repercussions.

”It’s game of football,” Schwartz said. ”There are tough, physical things. There are things that happen in a football game. I think we’ve got a lot of respect for them and I hope they feel the same way about us.”