NOTEBOOK: Stafford's low sack total, Durham's confidence and the importance of turnovers on defense

Posted Oct 1, 2013

The Lions' offensive line deserves a lot of credit for keeping Stafford upright, but Stafford deserves some of the credit, too

Matthew StaffordQB Matthew Stafford (Photo: G. Smith/Detroit Lions)

The Detroit Lions have done a terrific job this season keeping Matthew Stafford clean.

Stafford has been sacked the fewest amount of times in the NFL (3), which comes out to less than two percent of the total times he's dropped back to pass (156).

In fact, Stafford has faced the third-fewest pressures (25.8 percent) of any quarterback in the league, according to

The offensive line certainly deserves a lot of the credit for that, but so too does Stafford. He's made a concerted effort to get the ball out of his hands quicker this year and the Lions are seeing the benefits.

"I'm not a guy that wants to sit around and hold the ball and take a bunch of sacks," Stafford said. "I'll throw an incompletion before I take a sack. I don't like lost yardage plays, just like everybody else.

"That's just kind of in my makeup to get rid of the ball rather than sit there and put my offensive line in a bad spot. They're doing a great job of protecting me at the same time and keeping me upright. We're just trying to get defenses a lot of different looks. It's not perfect, but we're getting there."


Stafford has played on a few big stages throughout his football career.

There's nothing bigger in high school football than playing in the State of Texas, especially around Dallas, where Stafford starred at Highland Park High School.

He then went to the Southeastern Conference and Georgia's Sanford Stadium, the seventh-largest stadium by capacity in college football.

He knows a thing or two about great football atmospheres, and that's why Lambeau Field ranks right at the top of his list.

"It's one of my favorite places to play," he said Tuesday. "You walk in there and you feel all the history behind that place. Including all the great games and players that have played there.

"Their fans are great. They're some of the rowdiest fans, but some of the nicest fans. They're people that generally want to watch good football and want their team to win. It's hard to come by sometimes in the NFL these days. It's definitely a place I enjoy going to play."


The Lions needed players to step up in the passing game last week vs. Chicago with receivers Nate Burleson and Patrick Edwards out due to injury.

Tight end Brandon Pettigrew and receiver Kris Durham responded, combining for 10 catches and 112 yards.

Durham, in particular, was clutch, hailing in three catches for 58 yards. He had just two catches on the season coming into the game.

"It gives me confidence and I think it gives Matthew some confidence in me," Durham said. "I was in the right place at the right time and made good throw and good catch."

Durham's biggest catch might have come late in the second quarter when he converted a 3rd-and-1 for 12 yards down to the Bears' 1-yard line. Stafford scored on a sneak the very next play.

"Matthew just put it right where it needed to be," Durham said of the play. "He put it right on my back shoulder and I was able to grab ahold of it and Dom (Raiola) and Joique (Bell) about got me in there."


The Detroit Lions defense in 2012 had a total of 11 interceptions.

Through four games in 2013, they have eight -- DeAndre Levy (2), Glover Quin (2), Louis Delmas (2), Chris Houston (1), and Stephen Tulloch (1).

It's no coincidence the Lions are 3-1 on the season.

"I think going into camp our coaches did a great job of emphasizing how important it is to get the ball back to our offense," said Delmas, who had two interceptions Sunday vs. Chicago.

"As players, we expected it, and took it upon ourselves to get at least three turnovers each and every practice so it would carry over to the games."

It seems to be working. The Lions have a plus-four turnover ratio on the season.