NOTEBOOK: Stafford says he needs to be better; run defense and Ansah's performance

Posted Nov 24, 2013

If the Lions are going to make a run these last five games and make the playoffs, quarterback Matthew Stafford knows he has to play better

Matthew Stafford stood at the podium after Sunday’s loss to Tampa Bay and admitted that he had to play better down the stretch if the Lions are going to reach the playoffs.

Stafford threw four interceptions and had a passer rating of just 61.6 in a 24-21 loss.

"Can’t make bad decisions," Stafford said after the game. "Had a couple bad ones, had a couple unlucky bounces. You do that, you turn the ball over five times, have a punt blocked and all that, the minus part of the turnover for a long time now. We’ve got to get that fixed."

It starts with the quarterback. If the Lions are going to rally these last five games and make the playoffs, Stafford is going to have to take them there. That's simply the job description for the position. He can’t do that if he makes some of the throws he made Sunday.

He threw too early to Brandon Pettigrew on the pick-six at the end of the half. He never saw the safety playing center field on the deep throw to the end zone for Calvin Johnson that was intercepted.

"We can’t be minus-five and punt block in turnover ratio and expect to win games," Stafford said. "That’s the hardest part to swallow.

"Obviously knowing personally that I had a hand in a lot of those doesn’t make me feel too good."


It wasn’t all bad for the Lions, however.

The defense played well enough to win the game as they continued their terrific play vs. the run.

Tampa Bay finished with 22 rushing yards on 24 carries for an average of just 0.9 yards per carry.

It’s the first time the Lions have limited five straight opponents to fewer than 65 yards rushing since 1950.


The Bucs lost All Pro cornerback Darelle Revis to a groin injury for the entire second half. Give them credit, they managed the rest of the game just fine.

Calvin JohnsonWR Calvin Johnson (Photo: G.Smith/Detroit Lions)

Johnson finished with 115 yards on seven catches, but he didn’t have the back-breaking play we’ve come accustomed too.

"That was probably the most individualized game plan that we put together so far with Revis on Johnson," Bucs head coach Greg Schiano said after the game. "When you do that, it affects all the other people because they’re playing complementary to that and it’s hard to back."

Schiano credited rookie Johnthan Banks, a college teammate of Lions rookie Darius Slay, with stepping up when needed.

Again, it's a situation where the Lions didn’t step up and make a play when an opportunity arose. The Bucs gave Johnson more attention after Revis went out and the Lions didn't take advantage, especially in some of the run looks they were getting in the second half.


The Lions welcomed back a number of players from injury, including receiver Nate Burleson, cornerback Bill Bentley and defensive end Ziggy Ansah.

Ziggy AnsahDE Ziggy Ansah (Photo: G.Smith/Detroit Lions)

The Lions have particularly missed Ansah’s athleticism on the edge of their defense and he had a terrific game in his return to action after missing two games.

"I thought our pass rush did a pretty good job," Schwartz said. "Our defensive ends are a big part of that. (Ansah) is a big part of our defense and it was a long time getting him back. We needed to get him back."

Ansah finished with two tackles, two sacks, two tackles for loss and two quarterback hits.


Cornerback Chris Houston left the game in the third quarter and did not return with what Schwartz called a foot injury.