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Lions Quotes: Matthew Stafford, Calvin Johnson, Others Comment On Sunday's Win

Sep 9, 2012; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) celebrates a touchdown in the fourth quarter against the St. Louis Rams at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-US Presswire
Sep 9, 2012; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) celebrates a touchdown in the fourth quarter against the St. Louis Rams at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-US Presswire

Following Sunday's win over the St. Louis Rams, several Detroit Lions players spoke with the media about the game. Via the Lions, here's a look at what they had to say:


On explaining his quarterback mentality: "I was just trying to go out there and win it. I trust my teammates and my teammates trust me no matter what happens in the first half, however bad I look. That's what being a team is all about.

"Our defense did a hell of a job in the second half. I swear every time I looked up we were right about the 50-yard line having a chance to go down and put some points up. Didn't do it a whole bunch, but guys stuck with me; we all stuck together. They're not all pretty but a win is a win."

On the Ram's defense confusing him in the first half: "No, no. The one where I was throwing on the left side to Pettigrew, that one was a good play; (the) guy undercut it. Really, the goal line fade, same kind of thing. You look at tape and those guys have been turning their backs the whole time. Thought the back shoulder would be there and the kid did a good job. Like I said, I didn't throw great passes. Cortland Finnegan, he's a high-price free agent and he showed why. It was a heck of a play getting all the way out to a comeback outside from the slot. It's going to happen. Obviously you don't want to have three - you don't want to have three in the first five games and you don't want to have three in the first half of the first one. But the guys, we believe in each other. I believe in all the guys in that locker room that we can get it done no matter what happens to start the game. That's all we did. We went out there and put a little bit of a second-half together and got a win."

On describing his level of frustration after his second or third interception: "I was frustrated; those guys made some decent plays on it too. The biggest frustration is that we were moving the ball. In the first half I'm not sure we had a (punt). The only thing is that we drove all the way down the field on the opening drive and (then) turn it over. Then we drive it again and turn it over and that's frustrating I know for everybody. But we've been together for a little bit now and guys believe in each other and that's what it's all about. That two minute drive is as fun as it gets in the NFL. Guys just making plays and taking what you learn in the first three quarters and eleven minutes and using it in that last one."

On describing his deflection catch: "Oh it was terrible I'm sure. I was just frustrated. That play was so open, he was going to run for 15 and the guy was just not rushing the passer; just kind of reading and I just wanted a completion to myself I guess."

On the matchup with TE Brandon Pettigrew being mismatched: "No, they were just dropping so deep. Their first line of defense in the secondary was 12, 15 yards deep sometimes. Just had to take what's there; take the underneath stuff and really I had done a pretty good job of it until some points and had some key turnovers. We moved the ball well. Just proud of the guys sticking with me man; doesn't really matter how it gets done, it gets done in the NFL and a win is a win."

On knowing they could pull through for a comeback based on last season: "I think so. I think there's a belief when you do it a bunch of times. You understand it takes a great execution. (Offensive Coordinator) Scott (Linehan) called a heck of a game. Especially down there in the crunch time. You just have to take what the defense gives you and sometimes you have to be aggressive. That's when trusting yourself and trusting your teammates comes into it. No matter how (crappy) a day you've had, being able to trust yourself and put those balls in there and have those guys make plays is fun."

On Lions RB Kevin Smith: "Kevin is a smart football player. He knows every one of our protections in and out; the guy is a heady football player and I'm happy for him. I know in that formation Calvin is going to get all of the attention in the freaking arena today; he was going to be waiting for it and I just watched 58, Jo-Lonn Dunbar drop right back in the end zone and knew that they were about three or four on Calvin and just had to wait for it for a second, let Kev get out there. I'm happy for him. Had some big runs for us; creased him a couple times. We were able to use him pretty well today."

On embracing Smith after the touchdown: "He was just screaming; he was just having fun. That's what it's all about. It don't always look pretty. Don't always throw for 500 (yards) and get five touchdowns but it's about getting wins in the NFL. You know I'm proud of everybody. That defense on our side of the bar stepped up in the second half and gave us a short field I don't know how many times. We weren't able to capitalize sometimes but I'm proud of those guys too of shutting down Steve Jackson and doing a heck of a job keeping us in; giving us a chance. Stopping that last drive and holding them to three and letting us go out there and have a chance to win it. That's big time stuff from everybody."

On if losing the game ever entered his mind: "No, it's a tough spot and you just have to keep grinding, trust yourself and trust your teammates. Our offensive line played awesome today; they got some big time defensive ends, they kept me clean all day. Just trusting everybody; believe in your teammates. It didn't matter to me who was making the catch or who was getting the ball. Trusting everybody to go out there and make the plays. I'm happy for them that they did and I'm happy for our team."


On getting out of the slump towards the end of the game: "Just wasn't executed. I'm going to put it all on us. They did a good job, I can't even lie, they did a good job over there on defense. A lot of plays where we left them on the field or we just made mistakes. There's some things we need to clean up. We could have put this game away early but it's a team effort and we have to do better next time. We can't fall back like that like we did."

On looking forward to the 49ers after the way the Lions lost to them last year: "Oh, no doubt. We want to go back and pay them back in their own house. We're definitely hungry for that one and I'm sure we're going to have a good week of practice this week in preparation to get ready for that one."

On the confidence of the offense on the last couple drives: "We were confident. We know we needed touchdowns. We wanted to win; we weren't trying to go into overtime. That was everybody's mindset. Therefore we went down and scored."

On the consistent demeanor of QB Matthew Stafford despite throwing three interceptions: "Matt's a veteran out here. This is what, his fourth year or something like that? He treats it like he's an old vet. Things like that, they don't faze him. And at the same time, we have his back. You know if he's not putting the ball out there to us, we're not going to be able to move the ball in the outfield. We know how good he is. Everybody's going to mess up every now and then. We have to pull together as a team and keep him going and keep everybody else going that's having some hard times out here."

On RB Kevin Smith scoring the winning touchdown: "Especially that last one. I saw it. I just turned around, said thank God, you know. I was even more happy to see him go on with the ball when I turned around and see that 30. It's a great feeling, good for him, glad to see that. Two touchdowns today, he came up big for us.


On the win over St. Louis: "It was a tough one man. I got to give St. Louis some credit. We had some mistakes and they capitalized on some opportunities and it took us until the last minute to win the game. But the thing about this team is you can never count us out. So we'll take a win but we've got to go back to the drawing board and see what mistakes we made to get better for next week."

On the Lions' run-blocking today: "You know, for the most part I thought it was great. You always got to watch film. It's never as good as you think it is or as bad as you think it is, but I give my offensive line credit. They gave me some holes. You know, we work hard at running the ball so we'll watch film. But I'm loving what they're doing."

On how it felt to catch the game-winning touchdown: "It feels good. I'm glad Matt (Stafford) stuck with me. I kind of got lost in the shuffle but he told me before that the ball's coming to me so it felt good."

On QB Matthew Stafford keeping his head up after three interceptions: "He's Matthew Stafford, the quarterback of our team. He better keep his head up. It's what he does. We all look to him as a leader. He's a captain of the team. So he has great leadership and did what he had to do."

On Stafford sticking with him after dropping a few passes earlier in the game: "It meant a lot, you know. I rarely drop multiple balls in a game but this is football and it happens. He stuck with me and it means a lot. It means he trusts me."

On being frustrated on not scoring on the first offensive drive: "I just wanted to score the first play. You know, I was happy for Joique (Bell) when he got in the end zone. But, you know, as a runner for the first opportunity you always want to get in the end zone. Joique came in and sealed it, good deal.'


On the final possession: "I think I owed it to the team to at least make those catches. I gave up a big one earlier in the game, a big play, so that was the least I could do."

On if the missed catch was catchable: "Right, it was definitely catchable. It was just up there. There's such a thing as being too open and I just dropped it. It was a great pass. We came back a couple of possessions later and I made those play and put that in my hands."

On if he got open because of the attention to WR Calvin Johnson: "They kind of sagged back and tried to keep him from getting to the inside of the field. I was just sitting on the edge of the defense and he was placing it right there for 5-yard catches and I was getting YAC out of it."

On if he saw RB Kevin Smith open on the game winning touchdown: "I did see Kevin all alone. I was on the backside but big ups to him, he deserves it. He's a hard working (player). I'm glad for him that he got that touchdown."


On the play of the defensive line and being all over Rams' QB Sam Bradford: "It's something that we work on. It's finding an opportunity to get out here and do it live against another team and not our teammates and I think that's what we expect on a daily basis, on a game-by-game basis, week-by-week, to get after the quarterback."

On his one-handed tackle of RB Steven Jackson: "It's always fun to tackle a guy that you know, especially a good friend. Got a chance to speak with him before the game, but he understands once we step in between those white lines we're no longer friends and I'm going to go after him as he tried to cut me last time we played."

On the last play of the game: "Cliff made a great, great play. That's something that we talked about; especially when we go in our package and it's the last couple plays of the game. Make big plays and allow my defensive ends to come back and make a play."

On the key to stopping RB Steven Jackson: "I think he's a huge part of their offense. They obviously have a pretty good quarterback that can help them as well, but Steven is a focal point in that. They want to get their running game started and we understood that. Steve is not just a guy who is going to run the ball. He can get out in the routes and make plays and hurt you that way as well. We definitely needed to rally up and make sure we tackled him and got him to the ground and then we could have a one line focus and get after the quarterback."


On winning a close game against St. Louis: "You can't take it for granted. I just came out, I was excited. I knew it was going to be a challenge for us all day. I just played as hard as I could, man. That's all there is to it.'

On the continuity of playing behind the defensive line: "The more and more you play with somebody, the better feel it is you have. You know, we didn't have an offseason last year so we couldn't really, you know, gel as much as we wanted to. We had to do it on the fly and this offseason I've talked to them a lot more. Once you get to know somebody as a person off the field it's a little easier to play with them on the field also. So it's just a better relationship that we all have and it's translating to the field."

On the play of the linebackers today: "Man, that's a big thing. To know that we have talent throughout the whole linebacking corps; we're just trying to outplay each other and, you know, it's been competition this whole offseason, man. We got the young guys pushing us and we got veteran leadership with Tully (Stephen Tulloch) and myself. We have a great group. We just go out there and try to put it on tape. We played pretty well today."

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