ALLEN PARK >> Every NFL team deals with injuries, but when the Lions lost to the N.Y. Giants last Dec. 18, Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford was playing with an injured finger on his throwing hand.
Never a good thing. He completed 24 of 39 passes for 273 yards, zero touchdowns and one interception. If Stafford had 10 healthy appendages would the result have been different?
“Golly man, I have no idea,’’ Stafford said on Thursday.
The Lions get a chance for revenge of sorts when they play at the Giants on Monday night.
Here are five thoughts from Stafford on the upcoming game:
1. The Giants’ run defense allowed 129 yards in their opening loss at Dallas. “I think they’re a really well-coached defense. There’s not a lot of guys missing gaps and fitting wrong and all that kind of stuff. They’re good tacklers, and they’ve got some guys inside that do a heck of a job,’’ Stafford said on Thursday. “They eat up blocks and let their linebackers run. And then if they’re not eating up blocks, they’re making the plays. So, it’s a big challenge for us this week and something we’re looking forward to.”
2. He likes that the Lions receivers possess various strengths. “I think we do a good job of trying to use those guys’ skill sets to their strengths as much as we possibly can. Eliminate them from situations where they might be weak. So, we try to find ways to exploit defenses with those guys and they did a nice job Week 1,’’ Stafford said. Seven Lions each had at least two catches in the win over Arizona. Golden Tate led the way in yardage with 107. Rookie Kenny Golladay hauled in two touchdowns.
3. It’s an advantage to have a dual threat like running back Theo Riddick going up against a stacked Giants’ secondary. “Obviously, he’s a veteran player, has played a bunch of football, played in big environments. He’s really, as we all know, really good out of the backfield catching the ball. Does some things that are really good in the run game as well. So, the more guys we have back there, Theo included, the better we’ll be,’’ Stafford said.
4. Stafford was sacked just once by the Cardinals behind the new-look offensive line featuring T.J. Lang at right guard, Rick Wagner at right tackle and Greg Robinson at left tackle. “I think every game is different but I think they went out and executed really well the first time. And the first game of the year, those guys rushing the passer on that team were no slouch either, you know, Chandler Jones and No. 44 (Markus Golden). So, this week will be a different challenge, different guys, and we’ll have to go out there and prove it again,’’ Stafford said. “Just because somebody on our team played well Week 1, doesn’t mean they’re going to go out there and play well Week 2. You’ve got to prove it every week in this league.”
5. The Lions were running out of punters on Sunday. After Kasey Redfern injured his knee, knocking him out for the season, kicker Matt Prater punted four times. What if Prater had gotten hurt? Stafford did punt in high school. “I was more of a quick-kick guy from the gun than I was a punter. But I had some decent stats because there’s no returner back there,’’ Stafford said. “Yeah it crossed my mind for a minute, but glad I didn’t have to do it.” (To steal a line from Lions’ writer Mike O’Hara — world’s highest paid punter.)