FIRST DOWN: DIGGS AT SAFETY
Quandre Diggs said this week the thing he liked most about his move from nickel cornerback to strong safety was it allows him to see more of the action developing in front of him and play a little more freely.
"You kind of get to play around a little bit back there," Diggs said after Sunday's 24-21 win over the Buccaneers. "You don't want to do nothing too crazy, you have to play what you have to play, but at the same time you get to have fun, go back there a little bit, roam around and you see some things back there."
Making his second career start at strong safety, Diggs recorded his first career interception off Tampa Bay quarterback Jameis Winston in the first half. He also forced a fumble, defended a pass and recorded seven tackles.
"Yeah, he moved around, made some plays," Lions head coach Jim Caldwell said. "We're happy to see him do that. It looks like he played pretty well."
Diggs has some great mentors helping him with this transition – including veteran teammate Glover Quin – and if this kind of production continues, it will be hard for the Lions not to make this a permanent move.
SECOND DOWN: TOUGH STAFFORD
If quarterback Matthew Stafford misses practice reps during the week, it's a pretty clear indication he's working through some things on the injury front.
"It was a process throughout the week," Stafford said of his injured right throwing hand after Sunday's game. "I don't miss any practice reps for something that isn't bothering me. I love to practice. I love to be out there.
"It was a little bit of a process. Our guys on the training staff did an unbelievable job helping me out getting it as good as I possibly could."
The way Stafford started Sunday's game completing his first 12 passes, it was hard to think he was hurt at all. That's how tough and how much of a gamer Stafford continues to prove he is.
The hand injury didn't prevent him from starting his 109th consecutive game. He finished 36-of-44 passing for 381 yards with one touchdown, two interceptions and a passer rating of 91.4.
The two interceptions he threw in the second quarter he credited to poor decisions, not anything that was wrong with his hand.
He was even able to lead one of his patented late-game drives to put Matt Prater in a position to win the game with a 46-yard field goal with just 20 seconds left.
There is certainly no questing Stafford's toughness.
"Yeah, tough guy," Caldwell said. "Tough guy who heals quickly. It's always been that way. He's a great leader and does a tremendous job out there for us under some tough circumstances I should say."
THIRD DOWN: TURNOVER PARTY
When the Lions were playing their best football at the beginning of the year, their defense was forcing turnovers, and Detroit was among the league leaders in takeaways.
In back-to-back losses vs. Minnesota and Baltimore the last two weeks, the Lions didn't force a single turnover in either contest.
The defense got back to their turnover-forcing ways Sunday, generating five Tampa Bay turnovers in Detroit's 24-21 win.
Darius Slay, who currently leads the Pro Bowl voting among cornerbacks in the NFC, recorded his fifth interception of the season. He also recovered a fumble. He continues his terrific play.
"We just made plays," Slay said after the game. Plays we usually make. Had to get back to turning the ball over."
Diggs had an interception, and linebacker Tahir Whitehead and cornerback DJ Hayden recovered fumbles.
"Just playing like we know how to play," Caldwell said of the five takeaways. "We played that way early in the first quarter (of the season). It's good that we're starting to get back. So, we still got a ways to go yet."
Stafford raved about the performance from his defense, and lamented the fact his two turnovers let Tampa Bay off the hook a bit in terms of turning it over five times.
"I wish we had the five and I had none of mine and we would have had a really big day," he said. "Disappointing on my end to turn the ball over twice and cut into how great a day our defense had turning the ball over."
FOURTH DOWN: EBRON'S EMERGENCE
Tight end Eric Ebron had a tough start to his season, and he'll be the first one to admit it. He had some key drops, and at one point was getting the boo treatment by Lions fans at Ford Field.
But credit Ebron for buckling down and turning around his season. Over the last month, he's been a reliable target for Stafford, and that's been an important development for the Lions' offense.
Ebron had a career high 10 receptions on Sunday for 94 yards, though he did have a fumble he wasn't happy about after the game.
"Just anytime you're in there, you know, just do what I do, man," Ebron said of his performance. "He (Stafford) kept throwing it, and I just kept making plays for him and what more can you ask for. I mean that's what we do, it's how we play football, so just out there making plays for my quarterback."
The Lions obviously saw something in the Bucs' defense they thought they could exploit with Ebron. He was targeted 11 times and caught 10 of them. The only one he didn't catch was a diving attempt on a third down that would have been a tough catch.
"Yeah, he had a great game today," Stafford said of Ebron. "Week in and week out, certain teams have strengths and weaknesses and try to take players away, whatever it is, and we just go out there and play.
"Try to spread the ball around, shoot he'd have a bigger day if I'd a hit him on that one third down on the cross. So, there's still room for improvement on my end helping those guys out, but Eric did a great job man. When we get production out of him like that it's a big boost for our offense.".