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Jim Caldwell comments on Lions' win over Dolphins

A recap of what Detroit Lions head coach Jim Caldwell had to say after Sunday's win over the Miami Dolphins.

Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

Below is a look at what Detroit Lions head coach Jim Caldwell had to say after Sunday's win over the Miami Dolphins. (Quotes provided by the Lions.)

Opening statement: "Tough game for us. It was just one of those things, we got off to a pretty good start. I think our defense played well and kind of set a tone for us. Very good football team we were playing, well-coached and they do a tremendous job. But I do think our front four really went out and set the tone for the game. They knocked them back, they got after it, they put pressure on the quarterback and got him really disrupted early on. That's an offense that if you're playing on your heels at all, they're going to score a bunch of points on you because it's very tough to handle, but I think our guys started out well. And then we kind of went through what you typically go through in games. We always talk about it, it's that you're going to go through a bit of a storm, every single game in the National Football League is that way. It's just so close, parity is indeed real. Particularly with this team that had been playing so well, they certainly had strung together a number of victories and came in here feeling really good about themselves, which they should've. And so, they tightened it down a little bit in the second and third quarters, went ahead of us a little there towards the end and our guys just hung in there and played 60 minutes. There was a lot of great plays out there. Defense, I think (DeAndre) Levy had 11 tackles, so he was all over the place. Dig (James Ihedigbo) from the secondary did a nice job as well. I think (Darius) Slay had a few out there. (Ndamukong) Suh ended up with three tackles for a loss, that's hard to do. Obviously, that shows that you're really in command of your position and he's a guy that you have to pay a little attention to. So, defensively I think we overall did a nice job. I think we held them to 50 yards rushing, which for that team, they'd been rolling the ball down the field on a lot of different teams, so you've got to give our guys some credit there. The coaches, coach (Teryl) Austin and the rest of the staff did a tremendous job of getting those guys ready to play. Offensively, anytime you have two receivers go for over 100 yards that's obviously a pretty good outing. Having Calvin (Johnson) back certainly changed the dynamics a little bit, but you still see the little guy (Golden Tate) comes up big and played extremely well. And I think with Calvin just being absent those few weeks, the rapport that was developed between Golden and Matthew (Stafford) is something that is certainly going to help us down the stretch. But he (Stafford) spread it around decently. I think he had about seven or eight different receivers, but the offense I think did a decent job. In the first half we ran the ball decently. I think 4.3 we were averaging and then we kind of did not perform quite as well in the second half. But Joique (Bell) had some really good, strong, emphasis runs to kind of set a tone for us. Young guys played for us all across the board. Our offensive line, we had a couple of guys get hurt and (Cornelius) Lucas stepped in and did a nice job. (Travis) Swanson stepped in and did a tremendous job. Young guys that just come in and it's not too big for them and they do a great job. The offensive guys did a great job of kind of helping them out when we needed with a few chips here and there as well. Our kicking game, obviously we ended up faking a couple punts and things that we had seen. Coach (John) Bonamego certainly had an opportunity to take a look at these guys and see that there was a couple of opportunities for us to fake a punt a couple of times. One worked and one didn't quite work the way we'd like it to, but overall I think we certainly did a decent job in that area."

On his team's ability to win close games: "I just think that you can sense that they have a lot of poise. They don't mind a little pressure, they know how to hang in and come from behind. I think that was an 11-play, 74-yard drive there at the end to kind of seal it. There was a lot of really good, fine football play within that segment. Even the first drive I think they started out maybe 84 yards and held the ball for about eight minutes. So, you know, we're doing some good things. We're probably not as consistent as we'd like, but overall you've got to say this team has shown week in and week out, up to this point, that they'll play you all the way to the end of the ball game. Sixty minutes, whatever it takes, they're willing to give it."

On why the defensive unit has been so successful late in games: "There's some talent. There's character and there's talent on this team, and I think you see that being displayed each and every week. And obviously I think the front seven is a pretty dominant group because of the fact that we can roll in so many guys that go in there and play for us. Darryl Tapp got a sack. There was a number of guys that did a tremendous job there in the front for us, but I think they set the tone and our perimeter is playing well. They don't give most quarterbacks much time to think about it back there in the pocket. They can put pressure on you and they stop the run. So, those two things are key to playing good football."

On QB Matthew Stafford's style of passing: "One of the things that I learned a long time ago is that, particularly when you're talking about passers, they develop their rhythm to throw and how they throw from the time they were in seventh and eighth grade. There are certain things that they're going to do, that's just a part of who they are. Matthew has an uncanny ability to throw a little sidearm sometimes, but he's extremely accurate. I mean that throw he made to Calvin on the right hand side down the field was a sidearm throw, and then obviously the touchdown pass, moving to his left. So, those are the things that you can waste a lot of time trying to adjust something to a guy who does it well. You may not like it all the time, but nevertheless, I think for the most part when you add it up, he's pretty doggone good."

On Stafford's poise down the stretch: "Tremendous. I mean, you don't find many guys that can handle what he does. There's a lot of pressure out there in those situations. I mean, there's a lot on the line and every single time he goes out there and attacks it the exact same way. He never gets flustered, he never loses his poise. He's got good focus and in that time, you just listen to him talk and he's got a crystalized thought process going all the time. We certainly appreciate that and that's why he's able to bring you back when most teams probably would falter."

On if Stafford continues to surprise him: "After a few weeks now, we've seen him in a few tight situations and I just think overall, it's just not a one-man show. It's just like I always say that when you win, our quarterback probably gets too much credit and when you lose, they get too much blame. Also, when you see him operating so well, you know the pass protection has to be good, so that's tight ends, that's offensive line, that's backs, receivers getting open. So, there's a lot of guys that gave him a lot of help as well, so I think that's key. But no, he performed well down the stretch as he always does."

On G Larry Warford's injury status: "Not certain. We're not really certain. We'll see and they'll evaluate him tomorrow when they get a really good look at it. We'll see what happens."

On G Travis Swanson's play during the game: "When you don't notice him much, then you know he's doing a pretty good job. Travis is smart, he's very versatile and we wouldn't expect anything less from him. He's gotten a lot of reps at a number of different positions and Bobby Johnson and Jeremiah Washburn do a great job with those guys, a tremendous job. But the young fella did a nice job."

On what he saw from LB Kyle Van Noy: "Well one thing, he made the tackle that saved a touchdown, which I'm glad he was there. But we just kind of got his feet wet a little bit. We had a couple of packages he was involved in. We had five down linemen in there, he was one of the ends where we rushed the passer a bit. But you don't anticipate that he's going to get in there and set the world on fire, but I think he did OK."

On deciding whether or not to do a fake punt: "It depends on the situation, it depends on the game. Some games I like it, some games I say, ‘Nope, we're not going to do it.' But there is sometimes and that one, it just lined up just right for us. He (Bonamego) did a nice job in terms of his prep. He also did a nice job selling me during the course of the week, so he did a great job."

On what he saw on the second fake punt: "They were uncovering our guy on the outside, but they were able to get him. By the time the ball got there, it was a little bit behind him, but they were able to recover. That was kind of a situation where we were in a position where we didn't necessarily want to punt from there. We started to just leave Matt on the field and go for it just like we did later on because you're kind of in that no man's land. You don't gain much sometimes and our defense was playing well enough. Sometimes we can take a chance or two here or there."

On what clicks with Stafford down the stretch in games: "It's not any different than I described it earlier. The guy does not mind being in the thick of pressure and I think you can see it as a team. There had to be a couple of things that happened in that game. First of all, and I'll say this over and over again, the value of being able to have three timeouts at the end of the game because your team didn't mess up just in terms of substitutions or things that would require you to use a timeout. Our defense went out there and got them stops, so we could use our timeouts and get the ball back with enough time to operate. And then the fact of the matter is, the defense had to step up and stop them because there's been a couple of teams that we've had the ball in that particular juncture with three minutes and something, and they never got the ball back. And this team is certainly capable of doing that, the Dolphins were capable of doing that. So, the defense did a great job. The offense did a great job, that was a long drive. That was an extended drive and there were a lot of different scenarios that popped up along the way, but they were able to answer the bell. And he (Stafford) spread it around quite a bit."

On if he's ever amazed by how strong the defense continues to play without key starters: "No, and I say that because of the fact that, this sounds a little harsh, but it's reality. It's that we don't like to lose anybody, we've lost a lot of really fine players and injuries are tough. Those guys are affected physically and also psychologically, I don't take that lightly. But nobody cares if you lose guys. You guys aren't going to come in here and say, ‘Oh coach, we're not going to ask you a question about how bad you got beat today because you lost X-guy and this guy.' That's not what you're going to say. You're going to be as critical as ever and you have a right to do so. And so that's why we approach it the way we approach it. We expect every one of the guys that steps in there and plays the game, if he's got a Detroit Lions uniform, that guy can play and he can fill a role. And we expect him to step in and play just like he's a starter. I think most of our guys rise up to that. You have to be able to raise your expectations and I think that's one of the things that our guys have done around here. The ambitious and expectations are up here, they're not down here. They're not, when you get a guy hurt that all of the sudden everything sinks and drops, no. We're going to find a way to still get that thing done and I think they do a tremendous job of that."

On if he has ever attempted two fake punt in a game before: "Not off the top of my head, I can't recall."

On the mindset of going for it on 4th-and-7: "Going for it on 4th-and-7 was the same as the fake punt really. It was kind of in no man's land. We just really didn't want to punt it from there if we didn't have to and I thought our defense was playing well enough for if we didn't make it, we'd still be in pretty good shape. And we knew that we were going to need a couple of points. This is a sticky defense that we're playing, so we had to see if we could extend a possession."

On the blocked field goal: "Obviously, somebody leaked through and I'm not quite certain exactly who it is. We'll look at the film, it could've been a couple of guys in that sense."

On if the blocked field goal was related to Warford being out of the game: "I certainly wouldn't use that as an excuse. We just didn't execute properly. We'll have to look at it and get it fixed, but Kellen (Davis) did a nice job of running him down. That was a big play. We didn't get a stop, but it was tremendous."

On what kind of tone DT Ndamukong Suh set on the opening drive of the game: "He was reckless in there and I think right from the start, which he does every single game. He's a force to be reckoned with. He's a guy that has power and speed and he's smart, and you see all of that come in to play out there. He knows what to expect out there from the opponent and does a great job of countering it. And that whole front, I think you can see, they were swarming to the football there in that first quarter. It was unlike anything that I've seen in a while, particularly the way they got after it, and they had to. It was a good football team."

On if the play of WR Golden Tate has made it harder for defenses to go two-high on defense: "I still think they will, obviously if they think it suits them or if they think their personnel is such that they can handle it. I think so, but I'm not quite certain what they think of us. But I do know one thing is that we've got a few guys out there that can catch it if you do leave them in a one on one situation, or even two high, they've been pretty potent."

On the game ball: "Often times, I think someone usually asks about a game ball, but this particular time we gave a game ball to specialist Andrew Martin, who was out at the coin toss and is certainly serving our country. We gave it to him as symbolic representation of all the men and women that serve in the armed forces and he's going to be deployed to Korea and we certainly wanted to give him something to remember in regard to this particular game. You'll probably see it on television, so we certainly wanted you to know about it."

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