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Detroit – Matthew Stafford was sacked six times by the Carolina Panthers, and on the final one, the Detroit Lions quarterback suffered an ankle injury.

Stafford toughed it out, completing his next five passes during the fourth-quarter drive -- including a four-yard touchdown to tight end Darren Fells -- before heading to the trainer’s table for an extensive tape job.

Despite appearing to be in considerable discomfort on the sideline, Stafford returned for Detroit’s next possession and again led the Lions into the end zone, trimming the Panthers’ lead to three with more than three minutes remaining.

“I was just out there trying to stay on the field and play as well as I could,” Stafford said.

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He might have managed to complete the comeback had his defense got him the ball back one more time.

After the game, Stafford’s traditional post-game press conference was delayed more than 20 minutes while the injury was presumably evaluated and treatment was administered. When he finally emerged in the locker room, after the rest of his teammates had cleared out, there were no signs of a limp.

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Stafford largely declined to comment on his injury, including whether he actually got hurt earlier in the game. He directed most of the questions to coach Jim Caldwell.

Stafford started his 101st consecutive game Sunday, the longest streak for a quarterback in franchise history.

Ngata’s elbow injury

Defensive tackle Haloti Ngata was the other notable injury from the loss. The veteran defensive tackle left in the second quarter with an elbow issue and did not return.

After the game, Caldwell said the team was uncertain about whether there was long-term concern about the injury.

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