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Match-up against Buccaneers will present new challenges

Posted Sep 8, 2011

Last year Detroit faced Tampa Bay late in the season, coming away with a 23-20 win inovertime.
 
Having faced the Bucs’ in December, the Lions have a sense of familiarity with their NFC opponent when it comes to scheme.
 
“The proximity of the time that we play each other probably puts a little more on our familiarity with them, like you would with a divisional opponent,” said Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan.
 
“We got a game that we can use to evaluate what we did and what they did that’s not so far removed from the last time we played. I think it doesn’t hurt either side to have that.”
 
When it comes down to individual match-ups however, this game will pose some different challenges.
 
Last year, the Lions were without quarterback Matthew Stafford and running back Jahvid Best in the starting line-up.
 
The Bucs’ defense was missing cornerback Aqib Talib and rookie defensive tackle Gerald McCoy.
 
“They were missing a few guys (last year) but we were too,” said Linehan. “Everyone of their guys presents a challenge. We’re focusing more on us and what we have to do offensively, knowing that they’re going to be doing the same things on defense.”
 
During the preseason the Lions’ offensive line did a solid job in pass protection, allowing just 3.0 sacks, while the offense as a whole did a good job of protecting the football, finishing with only three turnovers (one interception).
 
As one of the top 10 scoring defenses in 2010, the Bucs will be a good challenge for the Lions' passng and running game.
 
“Scoring on them has been a challenge, especially last year,” said Linehan. “They’ve done a good job of creating turnovers as well, so we’re going to have to do a great job of protecting the football. It’s going to be a heck of a challenge.”
 
Stafford finished the preseason connecting on 25 of 33 passes for 395 yards, 5 touchdowns and no interceptions for a quarterback rating of 154.7.
 
Linehan says the key for Stafford against Tampa Bay will be to avoid putting any extra pressure on himself.
 
“Matthew is way ahead of his time when it comes to his approach to the game, executing the offense,” said Linehan. “He just has to understand, just like he does every game, that the way our team is built now, he doesn’t have to do it all. There have been a lot of guys added that will be able to take the pressure off of him.
 
“He just needs to go out and enjoy the game, let the playmakers in the passing game do the work and hopefully our running game can take pressure off as well, so we can play well.”

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