NFL NEWS

Lions unable to protect Stafford well enough

Sports Xchange

December 04, 2017 at 9:51 pm.

Nov 23, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) drops back to pass during the first quarter against the Minnesota Vikings at Ford Field. Photo Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

Nov 23, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) drops back to pass during the first quarter against the Minnesota Vikings at Ford Field. Photo Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

ALLEN PARK, Mich. — Matthew Stafford has gutted his way through two different ankle injuries this year, but the Detroit Lions quarterback was finally forced to miss time Sunday against the Ravens because of a swollen right hand.

Initial X-rays on Stafford’s hand were negative, but he had the pinky, ring and middle fingers on his throwing hand taped on Monday and said he felt “some like burning nerve pain” after Terrell Suggs inadvertently stepped on his hand following a fourth-quarter interception.

Stafford completed 20 straight passes at one point Sunday, but also committed two turnovers and was under constant duress playing behind a makeshift offensive line. Center Travis Swanson did not play because of an ankle injury, and right tackle Rick Wagner (ankle) and right guard T.J. Lang (foot) both left for a period with injuries.

Stafford is the second-most sacked quarterback in the NFL this year (39 times) and is tied for the league lead with seven fumbles lost.

“My heart goes out to him,” wide receiver Golden Tate said. “There’s no better competitor than him. He’s a great leader, but when your quarterback’s on the ground week in and week out, crossing your fingers only gets so far. He’s tough and he’s going to do whatever he can to be on the field and help us, but we’ve got to protect him.”

–With running back Ameer Abdullah unable to play because of a neck injury, rookie Tion Green saw his first career action against the Ravens and made a case for playing time going forward.

Green ran for 51 yards on 11 carries and scored on a 6-yard run in the third quarter, and head coach Jim Caldwell said he made a valid case for more playing time going forward.

“He ran pretty well,” Caldwell said. “He had some pretty good runs out there. Made some tough runs. The touchdown run was a very good run, and obviously he had a pretty nice game there coming off the left side. He did some nice things, got his shoulders square. I thought he did well. We’ll look at it further, but thought he did well.”

Abdullah is expected back for this week’s game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but the Lions currently rank 30th in the league in rushing at just 78.2 yards per game.

NOTES: RT Rick Wagner left Sunday’s game in the first half with a potentially serious ankle injury. If Wagner does not play this week, the Lions will start their eighth different offensive line combination of the season. Both Brian Mihalik and Corey Robinson played right tackle in Wagner’s absence Sunday. … CB Quandre Diggs started Sunday’s game at safety in place of the injured Tavon Wilson. The Lions rotated personnel at the position to compensate for Wilson’s loss. Miles Killebrew and Charles Washington also played the spot in different packages. … K Matt Prater had what head coach Jim Caldwell called “just one of those days” on Sunday. Prater pushed a 43-yard field goal wide left in the second quarter and missed his first extra point of the season in the third quarter. Prater had been a perfect 17-for-17 on kicks of less than 50 yards this year.