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Matthew Stafford's arm strength could hurt Lions

Matthew Stafford strode calmly down the middle of Ford Field on Sunday as the Detroit Lions desperately tried to avoid an opening-week upset at the hands of the St. Louis Rams.

There was no frantic, panicked movement from the franchise quarterback. It certainly wasn't the look of a man who had thrown three first-half interceptions.

That second half was exactly why the Lions believe Stafford is the man to lead the team to its first Super Bowl. The offense executed a nine-play, 80-yard drive in 1:45 to give the Lions a 27-23 victory.


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Stafford completed 7 of 8 passes on the drive, including a 5-yard touchdown to running back Kevin Smith in the flat with 10 seconds left in the game. Stafford hit four different receivers during the drive and 10 total on the day -- counting one to himself, too.

The problem in the first half was that Stafford has an arm so strong that he sometimes belives he can out-throw a defender. And sometimes he can. And other times ...

Cortland Finnegan's pick six came on an out route that had safety help over the top. Finnegan broke on the ball and was gone. Stafford just tried to rifle it into a window that wasn't there.

The Lions drove 77 yards on 13 plays on their first possession, and it ended with a Stafford INT on the Rams' 3-yard line. Six-foot-5 tight end Tony Scheffler was engaged with the 5-foot-10 cornerback Janoris Jenkins, and instead of throwing the ball up, Stafford threw a flat strike. It was an easy play for Jenkins in press coverage.

The second interception was another out route that linebacker Jo-Lonn Dunbar undercut.

Outside of those three plays, when Stafford didn't simply try to muscle the ball, he picked the Rams apart and finished with 355 yards, which would have been more without a handful of drops.

Follow Kareem Copeland on Twitter @kareemcopeland.

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