LIONS HEAD COACH JIM SCHWARTZ
- On Stafford continuing to fight despite a rough start
- "I think it's a little overused cliché of the three-point shooter that misses a couple that keeps on going. Matt wasn't playing poorly, he just made a couple bad throws. A couple… they weren't really bad decisions, he knew what he was doing, it was just a little bit inaccurate pass trying to squeeze the ball into a little too tight of an area. They were playing a sort of bend-but-don't-break style of trying not to give up big plays, trying to make us burn a lot of clock trying to shorten the game. We fell into that. The good news is those last two times we had the ball, I don't know if anybody's ever played better. That one drive we went down, we didn't have a second down on the whole drive; it was bang, bang, bang, bang touchdown. A guy that threw three interceptions, maybe at the end you're sitting there going, 'Hey let's get into field goal range; let's try to take it to overtime.' That was never even in our thought. The whole time we were talking about, 'We've got plenty of time, let's go down and score a touchdown and win this game.' We can't do that without a quarterback like Matt.
- On if that is a mark of experience and winning to get a bad game and good game all in one from the same guy
- "I don't know what it's a mark of. I know that Matt never lost confidence in himself and he never lost confidence in his teammates. He had a very good command of what was going on and it wasn't like they surprised us with doing some stuff. We had a pretty good handle of what they were going to do, but they made some plays and we didn't. But when it came to the fourth quarter, we made a few more plays and that was the difference. This isn't the BCS. You don't win the opener and then lose the No. 1 spot, but – hey – in the grand scheme of things maybe it serves us better than having a blowout. Having a close win, battle-tested team, maybe that serves us better in the long run than having an easy victory. Makes it hard on the head coach on the sideline, makes it hard on the fans watching the game, but this team is used to coming back. I thought that was in our past a little bit, but we got the win.
- On if having those come-from-behind victories helped
- "I think what helps there is the talent we have on the field. You have guys that know they can make a play and their teammates have confidence in them, the coach has confidence in them. The play-caller, the quarterback, everybody has the confidence that we can go down and do it. I think that's what makes the difference.
- On if CB
Bill Bentleyhad a concussion
- "Yeah, he was evaluated with a concussion, so (he) wasn't allowed to return.
- On how he approaches Stafford when he has a stretch like he did at the beginning of the game
- "We talked a little bit after some of those drives. I think that one drive, I don't think we had an incompletion that whole drive – it was 14 plays until the very end when we threw an interception. He's smart enough; he knows what it is. It wasn't like he was just having a bad day; he had a couple bad plays and they were able to make those plays. Like I said, we put that behind us. You have to be resilient. We knew there was going to be ups and downs over the course of the game; there's going to be ups and downs over the course of the season, but you've got to have a demeanor that can allow you to bounce back from that and Matthew does.
- On the switch of positions between he and Jeff Fisher with Schwartz having the expected good team and Fisher starting over
- "I don't know, it's good to see some old friends, but that was about it. Once the game was on, it's Lions versus the Rams. It had nothing to do with whether coaches had worked together before or anything else. It was a hard-fought football game and the Rams did a very good job of executing a very smart game plan. At the end, we made more plays at the very end and we were lucky to get the win.
- On how he thought his defense played against Steven Jackson
- "We knew we had to limit him because, again, they wanted to try to bleed it out on offense and they wanted to try to control the clock when they were on offense so we knew that was going to be important. He got loose a couple times, but never really a big gainer or consistently able to keep churning first downs. We threw a lot of different stuff at him, a lot of different run stuff and I thought we played very well up front. We got some good pressure, particularly inside. Our defensive tackles –
Corey Williams, Ndamukong Suh, Nick Fairley– thought those guys all played very well. They needed to for us and I think they all played very well.
- On WR
Titus Young's personal foul penalty
- "He did that and that wasn't a smart thing. We knew what was going to happen in some situations and him and a couple guys were sort of going back and forth and that was one of the situations where – it was right in front of me the whole time – and it looked like he was going to do the right thing and walk away from it and then at the last second turned and made a really dumb decision. The thing that really helped us the next play was
Will Hellermade a great play on the kickoff return because they had the ball at midfield, which gives them the ability to sort of free-wheel. They can try an onside kick, they tried to sort of chip it behind our front line and chase it and Will bailed us out of that bad decision.
- On the impact
Calvin Johnsonhas on plays even when he isn't catching the ball
- "He made the play to get us down there. Again, we were in field goal range, but we weren't thinking tie the game, we were thinking win the game. So Matt ripped it down there to him. We got down – I think we had 0:15 left at that point, which, if you're taking shots in the endzone, you can get three shots in the endzone and be smart. You can't take a loss; you can't have a ball that's completed in bounds where you don't get a touchdown. So we tried to hit that back line and tried to get the ball back there. "We had a lot of guys in there; Pettigrew is a very good red zone receiver, Scheffler,
Nate Burlesonwas in there at that time; Calvin was in there. Truth be told, when the play went off, I saw that where we intend to go had been covered. I mean, Kevin is the last option on that play. Probably behind 'throw it away.' He's in the play-action. He's really part of the play-action and the protection and he's leaking out really late. The head coach was on the head phones saying, 'throw it away, Matt, throw it away.' Saying, 'Hey, we've got two more plays here.' They did a good job of taking away what he did. But the offensive line did a very good job of protecting and bought Matt some time. He could go through the whole progression and found Kevin wide open. Kevin made a nice play, got it in the endzone and shows you what a good quarterback I'd be. "The offensive line's protection on game-winning touchdown pass: "You can't underestimate the job the O-line did on that play. It's very, very difficult to go through a progression that way when you're already sped up. You're already thinking about, 'Hey, there's 0:15 left in this game. We're already in field goal range, let's take a couple shots - we can't afford a sack. You get sacked right there? We might not get that ball clocked and be able to kick a field goal. So Matt did a very good job of understanding a situation, controlling a situation and was able to make the play that won us the game."
LIONS QB MATTHEW STAFFORD
- On explaining his quarterback mentality
- "I was just trying to go out there and win it. I trust my teammates and my teammates trust me no matter what happens in the first half, however bad I look. That's what being a team is all about. "Our defense did a hell of a job in the second half. I swear every time I looked up we were right about the 50-yard line having a chance to go down and put some points up. Didn't do it a whole bunch, but guys stuck with me; we all stuck together. They're not all pretty but a win is a win.
- On the Ram's defense confusing him in the first half
- "No, no. The one where I was throwing on the left side to Pettigrew, that one was a good play; (the) guy undercut it. Really, the goal line fade, same kind of thing. You look at tape and those guys have been turning their backs the whole time. Thought the back shoulder would be there and the kid did a good job. Like I said, I didn't throw great passes. Cortland Finnegan, he's a high-price free agent and he showed why. It was a heck of a play getting all the way out to a comeback outside from the slot. It's going to happen. Obviously you don't want to have three – you don't want to have three in the first five games and you don't want to have three in the first half of the first one. But the guys, we believe in each other. I believe in all the guys in that locker room that we can get it done no matter what happens to start the game. That's all we did. We went out there and put a little bit of a second-half together and got a win.
- On describing his level of frustration after his second or third interception
- "I was frustrated; those guys made some decent plays on it too. The biggest frustration is that we were moving the ball. In the first half I'm not sure we had a (punt). The only thing is that we drove all the way down the field on the opening drive and (then) turn it over. Then we drive it again and turn it over and that's frustrating I know for everybody. But we've been together for a little bit now and guys believe in each other and that's what it's all about. That two minute drive is as fun as it gets in the NFL. Guys just making plays and taking what you learn in the first three quarters and eleven minutes and using it in that last one.
- On describing his deflection catch
- "Oh it was terrible I'm sure. I was just frustrated. That play was so open, he was going to run for 15 and the guy was just not rushing the passer; just kind of reading and I just wanted a completion to myself I guess.
- On the matchup with TE
Brandon Pettigrewbeing mismatched
- "No, they were just dropping so deep. Their first line of defense in the secondary was 12, 15 yards deep sometimes. Just had to take what's there; take the underneath stuff and really I had done a pretty good job of it until some points and had some key turnovers. We moved the ball well. Just proud of the guys sticking with me man; doesn't really matter how it gets done, it gets done in the NFL and a win is a win.
- On knowing they could pull through for a comeback based on last season
- "I think so. I think there's a belief when you do it a bunch of times. You understand it takes a great execution. (Offensive Coordinator) Scott (Linehan) called a heck of a game. Especially down there in the crunch time. You just have to take what the defense gives you and sometimes you have to be aggressive. That's when trusting yourself and trusting your teammates comes into it. No matter how (crappy) a day you've had, being able to trust yourself and put those balls in there and have those guys make plays is fun.
- On Lions RB
- "Kevin is a smart football player. He knows every one of our protections in and out; the guy is a heady football player and I'm happy for him. I know in that formation Calvin is going to get all of the attention in the freaking arena today; he was going to be waiting for it and I just watched 58, Jo-Lonn Dunbar drop right back in the end zone and knew that they were about three or four on Calvin and just had to wait for it for a second, let Kev get out there. I'm happy for him. Had some big runs for us; creased him a couple times. We were able to use him pretty well today.
- On embracing Smith after the touchdown
- "He was just screaming; he was just having fun. That's what it's all about. It don't always look pretty. Don't always throw for 500 (yards) and get five touchdowns but it's about getting wins in the NFL. You know I'm proud of everybody. That defense on our side of the bar stepped up in the second half and gave us a short field I don't know how many times. We weren't able to capitalize sometimes but I'm proud of those guys too of shutting down Steve Jackson and doing a heck of a job keeping us in; giving us a chance. Stopping that last drive and holding them to three and letting us go out there and have a chance to win it. That's big time stuff from everybody.
- On if losing the game ever entered his mind
- "No, it's a tough spot and you just have to keep grinding, trust yourself and trust your teammates. Our offensive line played awesome today; they got some big time defensive ends, they kept me clean all day. Just trusting everybody; believe in your teammates. It didn't matter to me who was making the catch or who was getting the ball. Trusting everybody to go out there and make the plays. I'm happy for them that they did and I'm happy for our team.
LIONS WR CALVIN JOHNSON
- On getting out of the slump towards the end of the game
- "Just wasn't executed. I'm going to put it all on us. They did a good job, I can't even lie, they did a good job over there on defense. A lot of plays where we left them on the field or we just made mistakes. There's some things we need to clean up. We could have put this game away early but it's a team effort and we have to do better next time. We can't fall back like that like we did.
- On looking forward to the 49ers after the way the Lions lost to them last year
- "Oh, no doubt. We want to go back and pay them back in their own house. We're definitely hungry for that one and I'm sure we're going to have a good week of practice this week in preparation to get ready for that one.
- On the confidence of the offense on the last couple drives
- "We were confident. We know we needed touchdowns. We wanted to win; we weren't trying to go into overtime. That was everybody's mindset. Therefore we went down and scored.
- On the consistent demeanor of QB
Matthew Stafforddespite throwing three interceptions
- "Matt's a veteran out here. This is what, his fourth year or something like that? He treats it like he's an old vet. Things like that, they don't phase him. And at the same time, we have his back. You know if he's not putting the ball out there to us, we're not going to be able to move the ball in the outfield. We know how good he is. Everybody's going to mess up every now and then. We have to pull together as a team and keep him going and keep everybody else going that's having some hard times out here.
- On RB Kevin Smith scoring the winning touchdown
- "Especially that last one. I saw it. I just turned around, said thank God, you know. I was even more happy to see him go on with the ball when I turned around and see that 30. It's a great feeling, good for him, glad to see that. Two touchdowns today, he came up big for us."
LIONS RB KEVIN SMITH
- On the win over St. Louis
- "It was a tough one man. I got to give St. Louis some credit. We had some mistakes and they capitalized on some opportunities and it took us until the last minute to win the game. But the thing about this team is you can never count us out. So we'll take a win but we've got to go back to the drawing board and see what mistakes we made to get better for next week.
- On the Lions run-blocking today
- "You know, for the most part I thought it was great. You always got to watch film. It's never as good as you think it is or as bad as you think it is, but I give my offensive line credit. They gave me some holes. You know, we work hard at running the ball so we'll watch film. But I'm loving what they're doing.
- On how it felt to catch the game-winning touchdown
- "It feels good. I'm glad Matt (Stafford) stuck with me. I kind of got lost in the shuffle but he told me before that the ball's coming to me so it felt good.
- On QB Matthew Stafford keeping his head up after three interceptions
- "He's Matthew Stafford, the quarterback of our team. He better keep his head up. It's what he does. We all look to him as a leader. He's a captain of the team. So he has great leadership and did what he had to do.
- On Stafford sticking with him after dropping a few passes earlier in the game
- "It meant a lot, you know. I rarely drop multiple balls in a game but this is football and it happens. He stuck with me and it means a lot. It means he trusts me.
- On being frustrated on not scoring on the first offensive drive
- "I just wanted to score the first play. You know, I was happy for Joique (Bell) when he got in the end zone. But, you know, as a runner for the first opportunity you always want to get in the end zone. Joique came in and sealed it, good deal.'"
LIONS TE BRANDON PETTIGREW
- On the final possession
- "I think I owed it to the team to at least make those catches. I gave up a big one earlier in the game, a big play, so that was the least I could do.
- On if the missed catch was catchable
- "Right, it was definitely catchable. It was just up there. There's such a thing as being too open and I just dropped it. It was a great pass. We came back a couple of possessions later and I made those play and put that in my hands.
- On if he got open because of the attention to WR Calvin Johnson
- "They kind of sagged back and tried to keep him from getting to the inside of the field. I was just sitting on the edge of the defense and he was placing it right there for 5-yard catches and I was getting YAC out of it.
- On if he saw RB Kevin Smith open on the game winning touchdown
- "I did see Kevin all alone. I was on the backside but big ups to him, he deserves it. He's a hard working (player). I'm glad for him that he got that touchdown.
LIONS DT NDAMUKONG SUH
- On the play of the defensive line and being all over Rams' QB Sam Bradford
- "It's something that we work on. It's finding an opportunity to get out here and do it live against another team and not our teammates and I think that's what we expect on a daily basis, on a game-by-game basis, week-by-week, to get after the quarterback.
- On his one-handed tackle of RB Steven Jackson
- "It's always fun to tackle a guy that you know, especially a good friend. Got a chance to speak with him before the game, but he understands once we step in between those white lines we're no longer friends and I'm going to go after him as he tried to cut me last time we played.
- On the last play of the game
- "Cliff made a great, great play. That's something that we talked about; especially when we go in our package and it's the last couple plays of the game. Make big plays and allow my defensive ends to come back and make a play.
- On the key to stopping RB Steven Jackson
- "I think he's a huge part of their offense. They obviously have a pretty good quarterback that can help them as well, but Steven is a focal point in that. They want to get their running game started and we understood that. Steve is not just a guy who is going to run the ball. He can get out in the routes and make plays and hurt you that way as well. We definitely needed to rally up and make sure we tackled him and got him to the ground and then we could have a one line focus and get after the quarterback.
LIONS LB JUSTIN DURANT
- On winning a close game against St. Louis
- "You can't take it for granted. I just came out, I was excited. I knew it was going to be a challenge for us all day. I just played as hard as I could, man. That's all there is to it.'
- On the continuity of playing behind the defensive line
- "The more and more you play with somebody, the better feel it is you have. You know, we didn't have an offseason last year so we couldn't really, you know, gel as much as we wanted to. We had to do it on the fly and this offseason I've talked to them a lot more. Once you get to know somebody as a person off the field it's a little easier to play with them on the field also. So it's just a better relationship that we all have and it's translating to the field.
- On the play of the linebackers today
- "Man, that's a big thing. To know that we have talent throughout the whole linebacking corps; we're just trying to outplay each other and, you know, it's been competition this whole offseason, man. We got the young guys pushing us and we got veteran leadership with Tully (
Stephen Tulloch) and myself. We have a great group. We just go out there and try to put it on tape. We played pretty well today.