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So many injuries, Lions fortunate Stafford not one of them

ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- The Detroit Lions came out of the 27-10 loss at Minnesota with several injuries. Rookie quarterback Matt Stafford wasn't one of them.

Stafford was sacked three times and hit several more times Sunday as Minnesota's highly rated defensive line overran Detroit's pass protection. Lions coach Jim Schwartz said it is a concern.

"Our quarterback got hit on the very first play of the game, and I don't think we responded very well to making that mistake," Schwartz said Monday. "We have to give Minnesota a lot of credit, because those are all very good players, but we also had issues with communication. We had guys coming completely free and walking in on our quarterback and forcing him to throw the ball away. We can't allow that to keep happening."

Schwartz said that he was happy with Jeff Backus' performance against Jared Allen, but left tackle Gosder Cherilus struggled.

"We've gotten our quarterback hit way too often, particularly in this game, and that unsettled Gos," Schwartz said. "Gos battled in this game, and he came back after a knee injury, which a lot of guys might not have done, but he's had some lapses that he needs to put behind him."

Detroit has spent the season looking for a consistent left guard -- rotating Daniel Loper, Manny Ramirez and Jon Jansen -- and now might have to find a new right guard. Stephen Peterman was carted off the field with an ankle injury, and while he was still undergoing tests on Monday, Schwartz didn't sound optimistic about his availability for Sunday's game against Cleveland.

"He's got an ankle that we're looking very hard at," Schwartz said. "We've got to make a decision in the next 48 hours, and we've got other roster issues, so we will probably stay within our roster to replace him, but we might have to go outside our roster."

Stafford is still less than 100 percent because of a knee injury, but made it through the game without any ill effects and no turnovers one week after throwing five interceptions in Seattle.

"Matt did a very nice job of escaping the Minnesota pressure, and thank goodness that he did, or this would have looked even worse than it did," Schwartz said.

After crediting both Cherilus and Stafford for gutsy performances, though, Schwartz pointed out that he expects more from his players.

"Matt's a tough player, and yes, he battled like crazy in that game," he said. "The whole team battled, but that's not enough. It's about production. It's about the score on the scoreboard. I don't want to give people gold stars for someone playing tough. That's what we are paid to do. That's the way the game is meant to be played."

While most of the injured Lions were undergoing tests on Monday, Schwartz did announce that cornerback Jack Williams will miss the rest of the season with a "significant" knee injury sustained in the first minute of the second half.

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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