Stafford weighs in on this week's match-up at Tampa

Posted Sep 7, 2011

Quarterback Matthew Stafford was only able to play in three games last season, suffering a shoulder injury Week 1 at Chicago, returning to lead the Lions to a win over Washington in Week 8 before suffering a season-ending injury against New York the next week.

"All of (the games I had to watch from the sideline) were tough - whether we won or lost," said Stafford. "(But) that's behind me now. I'm just going out there to play and try to lead this team."

Last year's Lions-Bucs match-up at Tampa was an entertaining match-up to say the least.

Detroit tied the game to force overtime, winning 23-20 on a field goal. The victory marked the first on the road for the franchise since 2007.

"I think we carry momentum from every win we get," said Stafford. "We ended the year with four, which is good for us. We've won four games in the preseason, whatever that's worth.

"But I think once the ball's snapped it's a new game - it's a new play every time."

The two teams are similar in many ways. Both are made up primarily of young players with experienced veterans sprinkled in; both are led by third-year quarterbacks and both have a stout defensive line.

"They're a young defensive line - they're physical," said Stafford. "Their guys really get off on the snap and do a great job of penetrating (and) disrupting in the backfield."

Tampa Bay's backfield is made up of young talent, but led by 15th-year veteran Ronde Barber.

At middle linebacker, the Bucs have another rookie in Mason Foster, a third-round selection out of Washington.

"Everything you see on tape, that guy's a physical freak," said Stafford. "He can really run and hit and knows what he's doing out there.

"He's playing ahead of his years and they're a good, aggressive, fast defense."