Stafford miffed by Fairley’s facemask tug

Justin Rogers
The Detroit News
Former Lions defensive tackle Nick Fairley, now with the Saints, sacks Matthew Stafford in the first quarter.

New Orleans — Saints defensive tackle Nick Fairley called it a love tap. Matthew Stafford disagreed.

Fairley, a former Lions, gave a post-play tug on Stafford’s face mask after the Lions quarterback scrambled for nine yards in the first quarter. Stafford threw his arms up looking for a flag, which never came.

“I didn’t think it was very playful because I was on the receiving end,” Stafford said. “I don’t know. I’ll take it, whatever. We won so it was fine with me.”

Fairley and Stafford played together for four seasons with the Lions, from 2011-14. Fairley had a big personality and childlike enthusiasm for the game, making him one of the most well-liked players in the locker room.

“He’s a buddy of mine,” Stafford said with a smile. “I like him. He likes me, I thought. I think he was just frustrated I gained some yards on him.”

Fairley also laughed off the extracurricular activities after the game.

“It was just friendly,” Fairley said while chuckling. “I had been with those guys for four years and the relationships that you build, you can’t break that. It was just friendly competition, competitive trash talking. He said something to me and I said something back. He threw his, I threw mine. We walked away and we were smiling at each other, so it was all fun and games.”

Fairley, a first-round pick for the Lions in 2011, is having one of his best seasons in his first year with the Saints. He’s recorded 30 tackles and 4.5 sacks.

More marks for Matt

Stafford added to his list of franchise records in the first half, completing 13 consecutive passes. That breaks the mark previously held by Jon Kitna.

Stafford finished the half 19-of-23 for 175 yards and a touchdown as the Lions went to the locker room up 13-6.

On Detroit’s lone touchdown drive, Stafford completed all eight of his passes for 85 yards. He capped the scoring series with a one-yard pass to running back Theo Riddick.

Stafford holds nearly every franchise passing record.

Jones unable to go

Lions wide receiver Marvin Jones gave it a go during warmups, but a thigh injury kept him out the lineup against the Saints.

Jones, the Lions’ leading receiver with 730 yards and four touchdowns, couldn’t get medical clearance after being stretched out by a team trainer and running some routes before the game.

The Lions promoted TJ Jones, the team’s sixth-round pick in 2014, from the practice squad on Saturday anticipating this scenario.

Also out for the Lions was linebacker DeAndre Levy (knee), who will miss his 11th consecutive game. That left the team’s linebacking corps severely depleted with starting middle linebacker Tahir Whitehead (knee) not making the trip to New Orleans.

The Lions other inactives were safety Don Carey (hamstring), guard Joe Dahl, offensive tackle Cornelius Lucas and quarterback Jake Rudock.

Prater on the prowl

Matt Prater made five field goals in a game for the first time in his career, converting on each of his attempts against the Saints. Prater had makes from 27, 27, 29, 32 and 52.

Prater hasn’t missed a field goal since Week 8 against the Houston Texans and upped his conversion rate to 89.7 percent on the season.

Red zone problems

Prater had so many opportunities because the Lions couldn’t seem to get it together in the red zone.

Stafford emphasized the importance of finishing drives against the Saints earlier in the week, but the team came away with one touchdown in five trips inside the 20.

Detroit entered the game scoring a touchdown on 62.6 percent of their trips to the red zone, but leave New Orleans converting 55.9 percent.

Lions fans get loud

Lions fans made their voices heard twice during the fourth quarter, starting robust “Let’s Go Lions” chants that could be heard on the broadcast.

“That was awesome,” Prater said. “We were all excited. When you win a lot of games, more people come out to support you.” @Justin_Rogers