Lions coach Jim Caldwell talks about Sunday's loss to the Vikings, dropping Detroit's record to 1-6.


Detroit — Matthew Stafford had X-rays.

It's a wonder he didn't have an autopsy.

Stafford, the Lions quarterback, hurt his left (non-throwing) hand during Sunday's 28-19 loss to the Vikings at Ford Field — and it's amazing that's all he hurt, and that it doesn't seem too serious.

The Vikings defense teed off on Stafford, officially recording seven sacks — many of which were direct hits, thanks to complete breakdowns in the Lions' offensive line.

Stafford also took several hits just before releasing the ball, and was hurried all afternoon.

"I will never question his competitiveness, but we've gotta help him out," Lions receiver Golden Tate said. "You keep getting hit like that, one of these times, you're not getting back up. I don't care how tough you are."

Stafford was spotted on the sidelines in the second half shaking his hand, and backup Dan Orlovsky was warming up.

But Stafford said he never considered coming out, and the injury didn't affect his performance. It was, after all, his non-throwing hand.

"I think it's OK," Stafford said. "We'll see. I just got (X-rays), but I didn't study them."

Stafford had his best game of the season a week ago in an overtime win over the Bears, and had his second-best game Sunday, despite the sacks and hits.

He finished 18-for-26 for 256 yards and two touchdowns, with no interceptions. Stafford actually had a higher passer rating (126.4) than counterpart Teddy Bridgewater (118), who threw for 316 yards.

"I love that dude to death, and that's a great quarterback," tight end Eric Ebron said. "To see him not be able to have the establish himself in games like this where he goes from perfect and then down, it just hurts. You try to do everything for him."

'We weren't able to get it in'

There was another round of critcism directed at coach Jim Caldwell following this debacle.

Specifically, Caldwell was asked why he didn't challenge the ruling late in the fourth quarter on a Calvin Johnson 9-yard catch, which was ruled won on the 1-yard line instead of a touchdown.

Television replays showed the Lions might've scored a touchdown, but the Lions replay booth didn't call down to the field for a challenge.

"Our guys didn't see it that way initially," Caldwell said. "But we had a first down right there, nice and tight. We should've been able to get that thing in, but they didn't see it quite way.

"They felt the spot was good."

Trailing by nine from the half-yard line, the Lions threw incomplete on first down — then, on second and third down, the rushing calls went to George Winn, just signed off the practice squad, and rookie fullback Michael Burton. Not, say, Joique Bell and Ameer Abdullah. Winn and Burton didn't get in, and on fourth down, Stafford threw incomplete, essentially ending the game.

"Two of our power backs, two of our brutes," Caldwell said of Winn and Burton.

"We weren't able to get it in."

Ebron returns

Ebron returned to the field for the Lions following a knee injury, and he quickly contributed.

He caught a 55-yard pass in the first quarter, the longest reception of his two-year career. He also caught a 7-yard pass for a touchdown, and finished with five receptions, tying the most of his career.

But it wasn't enough against the Vikings, two weeks after he bemoaned his absence against the Cardinals — suggesting, with a straight face, his presence might've been the difference in the 25-point loss.

"We've got to make adjustments when they make adjustments," said Ebron, "we'll be fine."

Extra points

Vikings coach Mike Zimmer on how is linebackers played Sunday particularly some of the younger guys: "It's pretty easy when you don't get blocked." Ouch.

... Vikings kicker Blair Walsh was 5-for-5 on field goals, with two longer than 50 yards. Oddly, however, he missed an extra point.