Detroit was pinning its defensive hopes on a strong interior defensive line. Ndamukong Suh is suspended for Sunday's game and Nick Fairley is struggling with a foot injury.
Every time rookie defensive tackle Nick Fairley
appears on the verge of a breakout performance, his surgically repaired left foot begins sending pain signals to his brain.
He had made three tackles and a sack by the end of the first quarter Sunday, but as he was walking to the other end of the field between quarters, he began to limp noticeably. He was eventually removed from the field and taken to the locker room for tests.
He would try to play in the third quarter but was ineffective.
The X-rays were negative, they showed no new fractures, but the pain and discomfort are threatening to wash away his season.
"I felt like I was on my way to a good game," Fairley told reporters Sunday night. "But things didn't go the way I wanted (them) to — it didn't end up how I wanted. I don't know how bad it is. I don't know how good it is."
Fairley will continue his regimen of therapy with hopes of getting back on the practice field Wednesday or Thursday.
"He obviously has a screw in from his broken foot this summer, and it was in that area that hurt him," coach Jim Schwartz said. "He was cleared to go back in the game, but he wasn't moving well enough to be real effective. It was a shame because he was playing well, really having an impact on the game."
Fairley made his first career start Sunday, filling in for the suspended Ndamukong Suh
. If Fairley can't play this week, Sammie Hill would start and Andre Fluellen
would be the only other reserve defensive tackle.
QB Matthew Stafford took the gloves off Sunday and the results were impressive. He completed 31 of 44 passes for a season-high 408 yards. His throws were much more crisp than they had been when he was wearing a splint and glove to protect a fractured right index finger. "It felt great; felt like it was coming off my hand great," Stafford said. "Guys were making plays, catching the ball and we really got on a hot streak there end of the first half and beginning of the second half."
RB Kevin Smith is back to square one. He rehabbed his high ankle sprain all last week to the point where he was well enough to play. But he aggravated it again in the third quarter, completely losing his ability to cut. He will have to start the rehab process all over again. "Hopefully we can get to last four quarters instead of two," he said.
RB Aaron Brown, signed early last week, was not active Sunday. But if Smith can't go, Brown will be thrown into the fire. He has the speed and ability to make plays in the passing game; the same assets a healthy Smith brings to the table.
WR Nate Burleson finished with five catches for 93 yards Sunday, despite having three other receptions, two of them for 20-plus yards, nullified by penalties. He was flagged three times for pass interference calls (two of them were questionable) and another time for a facemask.
LT Jeff Backus made the most of his record-setting 172nd consecutive start. According ProFootballFocus.com, Backus allowed just one quarterback pressure on 54 pass attempts. Backus set a franchise mark, passing Hall-of-Fame CB Dick LeBeau, who made 171 straight starts.
OLB DeAndre Levy had one of his worst games since moving to the outside. He made just two tackles and was a non-factor against the run and pass.