Stafford back to struggling

After facing Aaron Rodgers, Ben Roethlisberger and Joe Flacco, the Vikings start preparing for Matthew Stafford. The Lions quarterback threw five interceptions against Seattle, and the quarterback and head coach talked about his struggles.

While wide receiver Calvin Johnson sat out two games with a right knee injury, the Lions said they needed him back not only for the plays he made, but for how he opened up the offense for others.

Well, Johnson returned Sunday at Seattle, and it didn't make much of a difference. Although he was targeted nine times, Johnson caught only two passes for 27 yards, and the Lions lost, 32-20.

"He's not 100 percent, but I thought he was able to go out and be effective," Lions coach Jim Schwartz said. "He was able to get open. He had a couple chances to be able to make plays down the field, one that he just had a hard time staying in bounds on."

Seattle coach Jim Mora said the Seahawks played Cover-2 more than usual to defend Johnson, and rookie quarterback Matthew Stafford threw five interceptions. Schwartz said Stafford needed to be more conservative in that situation.

"They were playing a lot of Cover-2," Schwartz said. "In that regard, there's some times where you need to be able to check the ball down."

Schwartz said Stafford took a step back in that he was too aggressive down the field. Stafford had settled down and taken better care of the ball after throwing five interceptions over his first two NFL starts.

"It's frustrating," said Stafford, who went 22-for-42 for 203 yards and two touchdowns. "Didn't play well. Just made some poor throws, really.

"I was aggressive sometimes, but if I make a good throw in those situations, maybe we're coming out with a touchdown instead of picks. But obviously I can't turn the ball over like that."

Stafford's first two interceptions came in Seattle territory in the second quarter when the Lions had the lead. The second was a floater down the middle of the field. Schwartz suggested the ball might have been deflected, but Stafford said he didn't think it was.

The other interceptions came in the second half after the Lions had fallen behind. The fourth was underthrown for Johnson down the right sideline. The last was returned 61 yards for a touchdown by safety Josh Wilson with 22 seconds left, ending the Lions' last chance.

"Our game plan was to try to distract him," said Seattle linebacker David Hawthorne, who had two of the interceptions. "He's going to be a good quarterback in this league, and I feel like he is a good quarterback. But I think our game plan worked today."


  • Special teams continue to hurt the Lions. Jason Hanson missed a 34-yard field-goal attempt on the first drive, hitting the right upright, though he made 41- and 50-yarders later. The kickoff coverage team allowed three big returns: 29- and 41-yarders to Louis Rankin and a 46-yarder to Justin Forsett. "That's almost like a turnover when you give the ball at midfield that way," coach Jim Schwartz said.

  • Tight end Brandon Pettigrew had the best game of his rookie season so far. He caught his first NFL touchdown pass, and he caught more passes (seven) for more yards (70) than he has before, leading the Lions in receiving.

  • Running back Kevin Smith had 67 yards in 13 carries, including a 31-yard run, his longest of the season. "I think he ran the ball well," Schwartz said "He made an explosive run, which we've been lacking."

  • The Lions continue to make opposing quarterbacks look great. Matt Hasselbeck threw an interception on his first pass attempt, but he finished 39-for-51 for 329 yards and a touchdown, completing 15 consecutive passes at one point. The Seahawks went 7-for-15 on third down. "We tried to blitz," Schwartz said. "We had a hard time getting that done, and we tried coverage. We can't allow 50 percent conversions on third down."

  • LB Ernie Sims left Sunday's game with a hamstring injury. He walked off the field, but he did it so slowly he was booed.

  • S Louis Delmas left Sunday's game with a right leg injury. He walked off the field, but he was hobbling badly.

  • DE Jason Hunter returned Sunday after missing two games with an ankle injury. He aggravated the ankle and tweaked a knee during the game, but he said he was OK.

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