MIKE O'HARA

O'HARA: Stafford left Pittsburgh with a personal record, a loss and no souvenir

Posted Nov 19, 2013

Matthew Stafford finished Sunday's game as the all-time career passing leader for the Lions, but it was no consolation after a loss

Matthew Stafford returned from Pittsburgh with the Lions' record for career passing yards to his name, but with a loss to the Steelers on the team's record and no souvenir to show for breaking a mark set by Bobby Layne.

In order of importance, the loss to the Steelers outweighed everything else. It made the Lions' record 6-4 and dropped them into a tie with the Bears for first place in the NFC North.

For Stafford, this week's Tuesday practice was the same as every other Tuesday of this season. His focus was solely on what's in front of the Lions. Their next two games are at home – Sunday against the Tampa Bay Bucs, then the traditional Thanksgiving Day game against the Green Bay Packers.

The race is on in earnest for the North title, and it's a six-week sprint between the Bears and Packers. The Lions aren't looking back, except to make corrections from the previous game, which is part of every week's preparation for the upcoming game.

Win or lose, the routine stays the same.

"It's the same mindset," Stafford said Tuesday. "You go and you get after it. Obviously, you want to win in every game you play in. You have to learn from them, wins or losses. You have to be critical of yourself no matter what the outcome of the game is.

"This is a new opponent for us. They are a talented team. The nice thing is, we're coming home. Happy to be home. Hopefully we can get a win."

Stafford looks beyond the Bucs' 2-8 won-lost record to the makeup of their defense. The Bucs have a lot of good, young talent, with players such as tackle Gerald McCoy and linebacker Lavonte David in the front seven. Cornerback Darrelle Revis, in his first year with the Bucs after six seasons with the Jets, remains an elite defender.

McCoy has six sacks for the season, with three coming in last week's 41-28 win over Atlanta.

"They're an extremely talented defense – probably the most talented defense we'll be playing all year," Stafford said.

Stafford broke Layne's record for career passing yards in the second quarter of Sunday's 37-27 loss at Pittsburgh. Layne passed for 15,710 yards from 1950-58.

Stafford broke the mark on a 79-yard touchdown pass to Calvin Johnson in the second quarter. In most cases, the Lions' equipment staff steps in to retrieve milestone balls. The ball Stafford threw to Johnson on the record-breaking play apparently will require some negotiations to be returned to Stafford.

Matthew StaffordQB Matthew Stafford finished Sunday's game with 16,005 career passing yards. (Photo: G. Smith/Detroit Lions)

Johnson, forgetting about the record at the time, threw it into the stands. Stafford laughed about the incident Tuesday.

"We'll just, I don't know, blow up a fake ball or something and paint it all up," Stafford said.

Equipment manager Tim O'Neill is working on retrieving the ball. It was caught by a resident of Metro Detroit who is a Steelers fan and was in the stands at Heinz Field.

Stafford finished the game with 362 yards passing, giving him 16,005 for his career.

The loss, and the way Stafford and the offense performed in the second half, put no one in the mood to celebrate. Stafford completed only three of 16 passes for 35 yards in the second half.

The offense never had any consistent rhythm in the second half. The final 30 minutes were a struggle. The Steelers were able to pressure the pocket. Six of their 11 pass breakups were from the front seven.

"It's definitely not fun being in that situation," Stafford said. "Whether it was getting the ball batted at the line of scrimmage, missing a guy, having a dropped pass -- whatever it was, we couldn't connect in the second half."