Late in the second quarter of their disheartening 19-14 loss at Chicago, Julius Peppers ripped past tackle Jeff Backus and crushed Stafford. The ball was lost and so was Stafford. He and the nearly 300-pound Peppers landed on Stafford's right shoulder.
It was clear fairly quickly that Stafford was badly injured. He came off the field and immediately removed his jersey and shoulder pads. He was visibly frustrated, walking away from the trainers and teammates at one point. He came out in the second half with his right arm in a sling.
"It's not fun," Stafford said. "I worked hard to come back from the other injuries (left shoulder and knee) and I felt we were doing pretty good on offense. It's not exactly what you want on opening day."
Stafford was 11 for 15 for 83 yards and had engineered two scoring drives before he went out. The Lions won't know the full extent of the injury until more tests are run on Monday. But with it being his throwing shoulder, he could be out for a while.
"We did all the tests and the injury was significant enough that we didn't put him back into the game," coach Jim Schwartz said. "It's too soon to know if or how long he will be out."
Backus was sick about it afterward.
"It's your worst nightmare as an offensive lineman," said Backus. "You don't ever want to get your quarterback hurt. It's our job to keep him upright and I didn't do that today."
Actually, Backus and right tackle Gosder Cherilus did a good job on Peppers. The sack on Stafford was his only tackle. But, as every tackle knows, one bad play can cost you a quarterback.
"He (Peppers) made a good move, a kind of drift-and-rip," Backus said. "I didn't get much on him. He kind of made himself small and got around the corner."
Veteran Shaun Hill is the backup quarterback.
"My job is to step in and pick up where Matt left off," he said. "That's the job of a back-up quarterback and I feel I am very qualified for that."
He didn't immediately show that, however. He was 9 for 19 for 88 yards, and the Lions had just 72 total yards in the second half. He was picked off once (by Charles Tillman) and he was sacked and fumbled on the Lions' 1 by Lance Briggs.
The Lions had six three-and-outs and the one-play turnover in Hill's first seven possessions.
"We have a diverse offense and there are some throws each quarterback makes a little better than the other and we know those things about Shaun," Schwartz said. "But there is a reason Shaun Hill is on this team. He's an experienced quarterback and he can lead us to wins. If Matt's not able to go, we have a lot of believe in Shaun."
TRENDING: The Lions consider themselves a diverse and balanced offensive team. But they managed just 20 yards rushing against the Bears. Rookie Jahvid Best had two touchdown runs, but only had 20 yards in 14 carries. The longest run from scrimmage was eight yards.
LINEUP WATCH: As expected, running back Kevin Smith was inactive for the opener. He is eight months removed from major knee surgery and hasn't shown the same quickness or power. It will be interesting now, with Stafford possibly out and the team's inability to run against the Bears, if they try to rush him back for the Eagles.
- WR Calvin Johnson had an apparent game-winning touchdown catch waived off with 24 seconds left. He appeared to catch the ball with one hand, but it bounced free when he laid the hand on the ground. The officials ruled, and video replay confirmed, that Johnson did not complete the catch.
- CB Aaron Berry, the rookie, started at nickel back and had three tackles and an interception. But he injured his right shoulder in the second quarter. He is expected to miss Sunday's game. Alphonso Smith replaced him.
- DE Cliff Avril sprained his knee during an extra point conversion in the second quarter. He continued to play, but pulled himself out in the fourth quarter after it stiffened. The Lions de-activated defensive ends Lawrence Jackson and Willie Young and had only one backup (Turk McBride).
- OLB Julian Peterson wore No. 98 at Michigan State and during his best seasons in Seattle. He wore No. 59 for the Lions until Sunday. He was able to get No. 98 back after the Lions waived DT Landon Cohen. Peterson had six tackles and one pass deflection,
- MLB DeAndre Levy (groin) did not dress and hasn't practiced since the third preseason game. Landon Johnson started in his place and struggled. The Lions are being very tight-lipped about Levy's status for Sunday.
- S Louis Delmas (groin) played and said he had no limitations. But the rust was evident. His pursuit was slow throughout the game, particularly on a game-changing screen pass that Matt Forte turned into an 89-yard score.