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Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford and other players spoke to the media following Sunday's loss to the Minnesota Vikings.
LIONS QB MATTHEW STAFFORD
On being 1-3: "It's frustrating. Obviously you don't like losing football games. We keep shooting ourselves in the foot. Offense, defense, special teams - everybody's had a hand in it. We deserve our record, obviously. We are what we are. Got a bye-week coming up - got to do what we need to do to rectify some things and find a way, on offense, to get the ball in the endzone and win some games."
On if this is a good time for the bye week: "I don't know. Bye weeks come whenever they come. We don't plan our season around them, I guess."
On what they were doing to shut down the offense: "It was us. That's a good defense - they have good personnel - but they play the same two coverages the whole game and, other than one blitz on the goal line, that's two games in a row without a blitz. Nobody wants to blitz us.
"We've got to find ways to stay ahead of the chains. Had too many negative runs, I missed too many guys, we had too many dropped passes, too many penalties. All of that... Margins in this league are not that big and we're on the other side of the margin right now."
On if teams are focusing on taking away big plays and if they have to change their attack: "We don't really have to adjust. Teams are definitely doing that, but we don't have to adjust, necessarily. We had some plays; we do a good job - we have a good intermediate passing game. We just shot ourselves in the foot on first down. They were playing good box the whole game. We struggled running the football, so that's tough."
On how damaging it was to come out with nothing on 3rd-and-5 and 4th-and-5: "It's tough. That was the only blitz we saw all game. I thought it was picked up on the back side. Miscommunication. Just something that happened, obviously. It's tough to not come away with points there. We needed it. Had a lot of opportunities. Had a lot of 3rd-and-short. Shoot, almost didn't get the quarterback sneak for a touchdown, too. Got to be better there."
On settling for field goals: "Just not executing well enough. Got a good plan. Whether it's me missing guys open or us not being efficient enough in the run game or guys not making plays that they caN make - it's all the way around. It's the whole team. Guys just not making plays that we can make. Guys have got to start playing to their potential and playing to their expectations - it starts with me. I've got to play better."
On the sideline after all of the special teams' returns for touchdowns: "It's frustrating, but I'm sure it's frustrating for people to be on the sideline and us go three-and-out, too. We're a team, we play together. Everybody's had a hand in every one of these. We have to find a way to tighten it up a little bit In each phase. You do that... We've got the talent. It's not the players, it's not the scheme. It's just guys executing, going out and making plays; Not shooting ourselves in the foot and just got to stay ahead of the chains, keep it moving and find ways for us to score on offense."
LIONS WR NATE BURLESON
On whether there is a disconnect with the team: "We've just got to figure out how to start faster. We're a good team, we can put points on the board, defense plays well. But playing from behind week-in and week-out, it's tough. It's the NFL. You get behind, the majority of the time you're not going to come back. I'm pretty sure the fans love an edge-of-your-seat win, but for us it's tough. Teams get to basically figuring out what you're doing if you become one-dimensional because you have to pass at the end of the game, they have the advantage in their play-calling. They can just sit back and basically wait for us to go for a ball."
On why the offense isn't scoring early: "If I had that answer they wouldn't be stalling out. I keep saying that once we feel that sense of urgency, we kick it into high gear and we start to move the ball, we put points on the board. We've just got to figure out how to turn on that switch at the beginning of the games and play with that sense of urgency. We just haven't done that lately."
On if it is third-and-long that stalls drives: "No. I just think it's playing faster on first and second down. There's going to be third downs in this League. That's what the League is based off of, especially with passing teams. We've got to be successful on third downs but we can kind of eliminate that with taking advantage of our first and second downs. Catching the ball; running good routes, just doing our job, but more importantly, just scoring. We need to score touchdowns early in games. When we get a lead it works wonders for our confidence and we play a lot faster."
On if the struggles are due to play calling or execution: "The play calling is fine. As players we've got to execute what we do. As a team, we just didn't make the plays we need to make and that's all phases. I'm not going to point out any guys or any specific side of the ball, offense, defense and special teams. We just didn't do our job today and that hurt us."
On QB Matthew Stafford being the only offense player to score for either team: "Yeah, it is a weird day, but we had opportunities. Even though he's the only one that scored, you've got to think about the opportunities we had to score. If we didn't have those opportunities to score and we just never got in the end zone, never got our hands on the ball, then we could say ‘We need to go back to the drawing board, get a new playbook, start from scratch,' but that's not the case. When the play calling is working and guys are open and we're just not executing as players, we've got to dig down a little bit deeper and figure out what it is we need to do as players to make those plays and come up with those big plays that could change the complexity of the game early.
LIONS RB MIKEL LESHOURE
On if he would have ever expected the offense to only score one touchdown: "No, definitely not. I wouldn't have thought we only had one or Matthew Stafford just having one. Unfortunately, that's the way the game went and, you know, we got to get better."
On if he thinks everybody will take the loss personally: "Well, I mean, yeah. I hope everybody does take it personally and get back to the drawing boards.
"This wasn't a special teams loss, this wasn't defensive loss, offensive loss. It was all of us. It was a lot of things that factored in and we've just got to eliminate mistakes."
On what needs to be fixed with the team: "We just got to play a full game. It feels like, you know, we're being a second-half team, a fourth quarter team specifically. But we've got to get going from the first quarter on. First series, first drive. And we can't keep settling for three points. When we get down to the red zone we got to score. We got to punch it in."
On the frustration of the offense: "Yeah, it is frustrating. It's frustrating because we know we're a better group. We got probably one of the most talented teams offensively in the league and we just need to put it together. We're beating ourselves sometimes, we're missing catches, we're fumbling and we can't have that. Can't have that and win."
On how deflating missed opportunities have been for the team: "Fumble. I'll start with myself. A fumble, I mean, it's not characteristic for me. It's nothing that I do but I got caught and, you know, they took advantage of me having the ball not tucked in and put away right. I can't have that. I can't have it, especially not in the red zone because that's when we're about to score. So me personally, I need to eliminate that. As far as the offensive players, we just need to catch the ball and do our jobs."
LIONS LB DEANDRE LEVY
On if the Vikings did anything on offense that surprised them: "They didn't do too much new - maybe a wrinkle here and there. But, you know, you don't want to put it on things, ‘Oh, it's only six points'. But we're winning this as a team so we've got to make plays all together. If we're in that position we've got to find a way to get turnovers or score on defense or whatever it is. We have to take it up even an extra level. Six points is too much."
On how disappointing it is to come home and lose: "It's incredibly disappointing. You know, coming home you'd think we'd have a little bit of energy, a little burst, come out the gates firing. They came out, opened it up with a kickoff return. They took the momentum from the get-go and we were clawing our way back and waited to the end. We've just got to work on starting faster. That's something that we tried to emphasize this week and I don't think we started fast enough."
On if the loss stings more because of the upcoming bye week: "Absolutely. I think that was something that was on the guys' minds, you know, going into this bye week on a little bit of a high note. Hopefully, this will simmer for two weeks or whatever and we come back ready to work and ready to get after it."
LIONS DE CLIFF AVRIL
On if he is hopeful about his injury: "Am I hopeful of what, having a good back? Yes, yeah. I mean I'm fine right now walking around so that's a good sign. Like I said, we'll see what the results say. It just happened. I think I'll be alright. We've just got to figure out what's going on and then, you know, find out what I can do to calm it down and we'll go from there."
On if he still feels the team can get to where it needs to be: "Yes, I mean, we put ourselves in these bad situations or whatever. It's our play. So there's just different things we have to correct and luckily we have the bye-week coming up where guys can evaluate themselves and try to get on the right track."
On still being disappointed in the game despite a good day defensively: "Is it disappointing? It's a team sport. There's going to be games where offense has to back us up, special teams has to back us up. So, you know, I think once we get all three phases going I think we're unstoppable. It's just about getting all three phases going."
On if he's happy with the defense's performance: "We lost. We lost so it doesn't make a difference how good we played. We lost the game so you can't ever feel happy about losing. You know, we just want to make the corrections and proceed to win some games."
On the bye-week making it difficult to bounce back right away: "Exactly. There's no 24-hour rule, per say, to get ready for the next team because now you can just dwell on this for the next week. So it leaves a nasty taste in your mouth and hopefully that gets us going, put us in gear to go and try to win some games."
On if he was surprised with how well Vikings RB Adrian Peterson played: "No, we watched film. We noticed how good he was. He's been playing pretty good the last few weeks. Can't take anything away from that guy. He's a heck of a football player."
LIONS K JASON HANSON
On giving up two special teams touchdowns: "It's terrible and so is the frustration of, we can't do anything right now on the kickoff. We're the ones that, you know, we've got to start coming up with slight gimmick stuff which is like conceding defeat. I mean, so I hope the guys take it personally, you know, that we're not good enough. We can't even kick the ball down the field."
On if the kickoff return kick was placed correctly: "Yes. Yeah, we just, that guy's good. Percy Harvin's really good. But we play good guys every week in our division. We play out of our division and we're playing good returners and, you know, I don't want to bloop - you take it short, squib. I want to be the team that, you know, they're adjusting to. Right now we've made it so that we're in their back pocket and we got to kick it short."
On not learning from special teams mistakes last week at Tennessee: "Yeah, I mean, but you know what, I feel like that's a good pulse of the team right now. Most of the time if you're covering good your team's on fire. You're running hard, you're kicking good. It can be the pulse of the team and to me that's mimicking what we're doing right now. And so, I mean, it isn't right. We've got two weeks to get it right. I'll do whatever it takes and the guys will too. I know we have a break but, I really can't stand again, where we've got to invent stuff to do because we can't do what we're supposed to. I'm saying everyone. Last week I hit it on the wrong side and, I mean, we should cover but it killed us. And then this week we do and we got punched. So it's not good."
On the opening kickoff return setting the tone for the rest of the game: "Yeah, I mean, those are killer. We kind of fought for a while and held them and then made some field goals. But you come out the gate and it's just, you're trying to make a statement and you let them make a statement. You know, you're 15 seconds into the game and there's boos and there should be. We fought back from that in a sense. We played some ball after that, but it's just completely unacceptable. I mean, everybody knows it and it still happens. So that's got to get fixed."
On changing the little things in the game: "I think big things need to change. There's no excuse for us giving up touchdowns and not covering. I can kick the ball, Nick (Harris) here, he can the ball. We need to do it better and we need to cover better and all special teams need to get their act together because we're good. But we're garbage right now and we're killing our team. So I hope everybody takes it personally. The only way is you play smart but we have got to pick it up and determine, you know, fly. That can't happen. It just can't happen."