Stafford takes heavy blame for Lions’ fall
There’s plenty of blame to go around for the Detroit Lions’ fall
from the NFC North driver’s seat to a Week 17 game with no playoff
It’s particularly hard to ignore the performance of quarterback
Matthew Stafford during the team’s late-season slide.
The Lions (7-8) have lost five of their last six games,
including their last three. A win Sunday at Minnesota would leave
Detroit at .500, a far cry from the 6-3 mark it had at the start of
Stafford’s play has followed the team’s fortunes. He has an
NFL-worst 14 turnovers since Week 11: 12 interceptions and two lost
fumbles. His most recent interception was returned for a touchdown
late in Sunday’s 23-20 overtime loss to the New York Giants.
”There are definitely throws that I wish I had back,” he said.
”I feel like I’ve made some good plays, but the bottom line is
winning and losing games.”
The Lions went 10-6 during the 2011 season, ending an 11-year
postseason drought. They’ve gone 11-20 since.
Last season ended with an eight-game losing streak and 2013 was
particularly difficult for Lions fans who watched division rivals
Chicago and Green Bay lose their starting quarterbacks to injuries
midway through the fall.
Stafford was the NFL’s Comeback Player of the Year for the 2011
season, during which he threw for 5,038 yards and 41 touchdowns to
help the Lions secure a wild-card playoff berth. He finished that
season with a 97.2 passer rating.
It’s 83.6 this season, 21st among league quarterbacks.
Stafford has said he’s not affected by recent criticism of his
”I don’t really listen to it or read it, honestly, or hear
about it,” he said. ”It’s actually been pretty stress-free for
”I want to play good. Not for (reporters), but for my teammates
and for the coaches in the locker room.”
Coach Jim Schwartz scoffed at a question of benching Stafford
after a Week 15 loss to Baltimore.
It hasn’t helped that All-Pro receiver Calvin Johnson appears to
be playing injured. Neither Johnson, who missed several plays in
Sunday’s loss, nor Schwartz would confirm or deny a report that
Johnson has been playing with a torn knee ligament since a Nov. 10
win at Chicago.
Johnson, who has 84 catches for 1,492 yards and 12 touchdowns,
did not practice Wednesday.
NOTES: The Lions placed tight end Brandon Pettigrew on injured
reserve Wednesday, ending his season. The five-year veteran injured
an ankle late in the loss to Baltimore and has not practice or
played since. He finished the season with 41 receptions for 416
yards and two touchdowns. . Guard LaAdrian Waddle still was wearing
a walking brace on his left foot Wednesday. He left late in
Sunday’s game and did not return. . Detroit is 7-23 at Mall of
America Field, which hosts its final game this weekend. The record
is the worst among NFC North teams, none of which has a winning
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org