Stafford, Burleson know limiting turnovers is the key the rest of the way

Posted Dec 11, 2013

The Detroit Lions offense knows that limiting turnovers in priority No. 1 from here on out

Nate BurlesonWR Nate Burleson (Photo: G. Smith/Detroit Lions)

Anyone who watches the Detroit Lions knows what they have to do over these next three games in order to win out and clinch their first division title in 20 years: get out of their own way and limit turnovers.

How they plan to accomplish that is what people most want to know. How does this team plan to snap a streak of 15 turnovers in its last 16 quarters of football?

"Wow, that's a lot," veteran receiver Nate Burleson said Wednesday.

It is, and it's one of the big reasons the Lions have dropped three of their last four games.

"You just try to have and work on the good habits," said quarterback Matthew Stafford, who's thrown seven interceptions and had six fumbles (two lost) over the last four games.

"If you're a running back, you're trying to hold it high and tight. If you're an offensive lineman or a tight end or somebody blocking or a quarterback, you're carrying out your fake, you're getting there and covering so if a guy does happen to fumble the football you're jumping on it.

"For me, I'm trying to make as good of decisions I possibly can and challenge myself during the week every day in practice to make the best possible decisions and let that carry over to Sunday."

Former Super Bowl winning coach with the Dallas Cowboys and current NFL analyst Jimmy Johnson recently said the Lions had the most talented team in the NFL.

"That's a compliment for sure that he feels that way, but talent doesn't win football games and we understand that," Stafford said when asked about Johnson's comments. "You have to go out and play well every week."

"It's tough to overcome mistakes. We understand that we have made our fair share of them lately. We have to move on from it, try to learn from it and do better."

The turnovers are physical mistakes that continue to repeat themselves, which is the more frustrating part for players like Burleson.

"For us, as bad as it sounds, and I'm not trying to discredit teams that are beating us, but we've had turnovers and still had the chance to win games," he said.

"It's good in a way, but it's bad, because it speaks volumes about the mistakes costing us games. But it also tells a story that if we don't turn the ball over, we could quite possible be walking away with double-digit leads in some of these games."

It hasn't work out that way, however, and it's not going to get any easier this week with the Baltimore Ravens coming to town.

"We have to come in this week and know that Baltimore is coming after that ball," Burleson said. "They are going to be throwing tomahawks at every ball carrier and trying to knock it out of Matt's hand if they get close to him in the pocket.

"For us, we have to be ultra aware ... as professional athletes you try and fix your mistakes, minimize your weaknesses and build on your strengths. Right now (turnovers) are a weakness and we have to minimize that as much a possible these next few weeks.”