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Stafford relishes challenge of blitz
Bring on the blitz.
Matthew Stafford has been red-hot against extra-man rushes of late, and the Detroit Lions quarterback said Wednesday he enjoys when teams try to blitz him.
"I think the majority of the time, it creates opportunities," Stafford said. "Opportunities in the pass game and chances. Obviously if they're rushing me with more people, there's less people to tackle guys who have the ball down the field. So, we've done a nice job making some plays."
Stafford completed 10 of 12 passes for 158 yards when the Cleveland Browns blitzed him last week, according to Pro Football Focus, and two of Stafford's three touchdown passes came against blitzes.
Stafford's success is in sharp contrast to early in the season, when he and the Lions struggled against extra-man rushes.
The improvements are due in part to better blocking the Lions have gotten up front in recent weeks. Taylor Decker made his first start of the season at left tackle last Sunday, and right tackle Rick Wagner is healthy after an early-season ankle injury.
It's helped, too, that Stafford finally has a full complement of weapons to work with at the skill positions.
Golden Tate, Marvin Jones and TJ Jones have been the regulars for the Lions' offense this year, and Kenny Golladay returned last week after a five-game absence due to a pulled hamstring.
Golladay played just 11 snaps against the Browns, but he caught two passes for 64 yards, including a 50-yarder that set up running back Theo Riddick's game-tying touchdown.
Golladay, a third-round pick out of Northern Illinois, is now responsible for two of the Lions' four longest pass plays this year. He also caught a 45-yard touchdown in the season opener.
Tate also has a 45-yard catch, and Riddick caught a 63-yarder against the Green Bay Packers, though neither of those plays came on shots downfield.
Stafford said it was helpful to have Golladay back in the fold last week and he should play a bigger role moving ahead.
"I know he had worked extremely hard to get back, and as far as what he can do down the stretch, I think we'll see," Stafford said. "He's a young kid. He hasn't played a whole lot of football with us, but the times he's been out there, he's done a nice job. And I'd expect like anybody in this league, the better you play, the more your opportunities come."
SERIES HISTORY: 175th regular-season meeting. Bears lead series, 97-72-5. It's been 15 years now, but one memorable matchup between these two teams came in 2002, when the Bears beat the Lions, 20-17, after then Lions head coach Marty Mornhinweg took the wind rather than the ball to start overtime. The Bears, of course, scored on the first possession of the extra period, and Mornhinweg was fired after the season.