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Sunday, November 15, 2009
On Stafford and Delmas

By Kevin Seifert
ESPN.com

MINNEAPOLIS -- I’ve spent a lot of time harping on the absolute necessity that Detroit upgrade its defensive line. On Sunday, you saw why the Lions’ offensive line isn’t much further behind.

Quarterback Matthew Stafford took a beating in the Lions’ 27-10 loss to Detroit, one that I don’t think any Lions official or fan wants to see many more of. The Vikings sacked him three times and hit him on at least 13 other occasions, according to unofficial postgame statistics. I also had the Lions with six dropped passes, although I admit I lost count late in the fourth quarter.

Matthew Stafford
Matthew Stafford faced pressure all day from the Minnesota defense.
It didn’t take long for Detroit coach Jim Schwartz to bring up the topic during his postgame interview.

“We got our quarterback killed too much today,” he said. Later, he added: “We weren’t able to protect him and he wasn’t able to make throws. We tried to throw quickly. We tried to throw screens and we handled it poorly as a team.”

Schwartz said he wasn’t “worried” about Stafford, who seems to be a pretty tough cookie. The Vikings have an exceptional defensive line, but the worst-case scenario for any young quarterback is to get beaten up and down before he has his feet firmly set in the pro game.

“It was a rough game,” said Stafford, who was under such duress that he totaled only 224 yards on 29 completions. “They are good up front. They brought some good dogs and blitzes and got to us. We just have to play better.”

One other Lions note: Many of us were surprised by the absence of safety Louis Delmas, who didn’t play because of an infected tooth. That list included the Lions, who included Delmas among their 45 active players on the assumption he would be able to play with the condition. Schwartz said he “didn’t’ think it would be an issue” but found out otherwise during pregame warm-ups.

“He was never able to get rid of the pain,” Schwartz said. “When you have a really bad toothache, you can’t hit anybody, you can’t run or talk. When you get a safety that can’t run, talk or hit anybody, it would have been better to have known that beforehand. Louis is a tough guy that thought he would be able to answer the bell and he wasn’t able to, which left us a little shorthanded. That is something we need to do a better job communicating before the game.”