Matthew Stafford is enjoying all of his options on the offensive side of the ball

Posted Sep 10, 2013

Stafford and the Lions had key contributions from six offensive players not named Calvin Johnson in Detroit's win over Minnesota

Joique BellRB Joique Bell had two touchdowns vs. Minnesota. (G. Smith/Detroit Lions)

Matthew Stafford likes options.

Maybe not when he visits Hyde Park Steakhouse in Birmingham, where the fifth-year quarterback has a steak named after him (it would be rude not to order it every time), but when it comes to the Lions offense, options are good.

Stafford had lots of them at his disposal in Sunday’s 34-24 win over Minnesota.

  • Running back Reggie Bush had 191 total yards, including 101 receiving.
  • Receiver Nate Burleson caught all six of his targets for 78 yards.
  • Running back Joique Bell had 67 receiving yards and two rushing touchdowns.
  • Tight end Joseph Fauria caught all three passes thrown his way, including a 22 yarder, and a 1-yard touchdown.
  • Receiver Patrick Edwards made three key catches and finished with 30 receiving yards.
  • Even receiver Kris Durhams one catch was important. It was for 11 yards late in the second quarter at the Vikings 2-yard line and set up the Bell touchdown right before the half.

"It was just great to see Matt have confidence in all his personnel," Lions offensive coordinator Scott Linehan said. "I mean, he didn’t shy away from anybody."

All Pro receiver Calvin Johnson had a fairly quiet day with 37 yards on four catches, though a 20-yard touchdown was called back after it was ruled he didn’t finish the process of the catch, and the two just missed on another touchdown in the back of the end zone later in the game.

It was the first time since Week 7 of last season Johnson was held under 60 yards receiving. He had three such games last year. The Lions lost two of those games to Minnesota and Chicago and won the other against Seattle.

In those three games where Johnson was held under 60 yards, the Lions averaged just 16 points.

They scored more than double that Sunday.

"Guys stepped up and made plays," Stafford said. "The more weapons you can have that can stay healthy and produce, the better you’re going to be.

"It’s fun playing quarterback when you have a lot of weapons at your disposal and I definitely do."

It’s only one game, but it seems the Lions pose a unique challenge to opposing defenses – much like New Orleans’ offense did early in Bush’s career – in that they have a player in Johnson who can take the top off a play and another player in Bush who excels in space.

Everyone else in this offense has very defined roles and are going to be the beneficiary of playing alongside Johnson and Bush.

"It’s exactly what we had planned," receiver Nate Burleson said.  

"That’s what I look forward to being in the slot. You can get me man coverage and I’m going to work that. You give me zone coverage and I’m going to do even more. This is why I show up for work. Don’t say much. Don’t complain. And play football. I’m in the best position in the world. Calvin and Reggie are going to allow me to be successful all year."