NOTEBOOK: Stafford leaves game with ankle injury

Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford entered Saturday's game against Tampa Bay dealing with thumb and rib injuries, but it was a new ankle injury that forced him out of the game after the Lions' first offensive series. He did not return in an eventual 47-7 Bucs victory. 

On a second-down play near midfield, Stafford threw an incomplete pass to tight end T.J. Hockenson, while facing pressure from Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Devin White.

Stafford got tangled with White after the throw, and it looked like Stafford stepped awkwardly, rolling his right ankle. He stayed in the game and completed a short throw to wide receiver Danny Amendola that ended up short of the first down. As the Lions lined up to punt, Stafford headed to the bench where a group of trainers and doctors surrounded him. It looked like he got his ankle taped up by training staff.

After testing it on the sideline, Stafford headed back to the locker room for further evaluation, and it was announced later he was questionable to return. He returned to the sideline in the second half but never back into the game.

Chase Daniel entered the game in Stafford's place on Detroit's second offensive series and played up until the fourth quarter. He was 13-of-18 passing for 86 yards with no touchdowns, no interceptions and a 82.2 passer rating.

David Blough played the fourth quarter for the Lions and went 6-of-10 for 49 yards with an interception and 32.9 passer rating.

Interim interim head coach Robert Prince did not have an update on Stafford's status after the game.

View photos from Detroit Lions vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers Week 16 game at Ford Field on Saturday, Dec. 26, 2020.

AGNEW SAVES SHUTOUT

The Lions' offense was pretty stagnant all game, but veteran kick returner Jamal Agnew provided a spark and proved he's still as dangerous as ever.

Agnew saved a shutout in the third quarter with a 74-yard punt-return touchdown.

The return touchdown was Agnew's fifth since entering the NFL in 2017, the most in the league over that span. His four punt-return touchdowns tied for the second most in team history, and he's the second player in team history to have four punt-return touchdowns and one kickoff return touchdown.

This was Agnew's fourth punt return touchdown of 60-plus yards, the most by a Lions player since the merger. The only other Lions player with more is Jack Christiansen with seven (he played from 1951-58).

Of Agnew's five career return touchdowns, Saturday's was his first in a home game.

Agnew lamented the fact that the play came when Detroit was down by 40 points, but he was happy to provide at least one bright spot.

"I'm just happy I got to make that play for the team," Agnew said after the game. "Give us a little bit of juice."

SMALL DETAILS

After the game everyone usually looks at the big scoring plays or turnovers as the key plays in the game. And while those are big moments in every contest, there are also plays that go somewhat unnoticed that end up being important in the grand scheme of things.

A couple examples for the Lions early on Saturday:

1. The Bucs faced a 3rd and 9 on their opening drive. The Lions dialed up a blitz, and linebacker Jahlani Tavai got to Tom Brady for the sack, but defensive end Everson Griffen was called offsides. The penalty gave Tampa Bay new life, and they would score the first touchdown of the game four plays later.

2. On the Lions' opening possession, they faced a 4th and 1 at midfield and kept the offense on the field to try and go for it, but left tackle Taylor Decker flinched and was called for a false start. Detroit punted. Tampa Bay scored a touchdown on their second possession.

Coaches talk all the time about doing the little things right and how that leads to the bigger things being done correctly, too. There are winning plays and losing plays, and the Lions had too many losing plays Saturday.

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