Detroit Lions QB Matthew Stafford speaks to the media on Thursday, Oct. 25, 2018, in Allen Park.
Dave Birkett, Detroit Free Press
They’ve come close a few times.
Golden Tate recovered his own fumble after a short gain in the fourth quarter of last week’s win over the Miami Dolphins, and Andre Branch drilled Matthew Stafford from behind after a mix-up with the snap count, but the Detroit Lions are on a pretty impressive streak of no turnovers that has coincided with their improved overall play.
The Lions have gone nearly 3 1/2 games without a turnover, a span that’s covered 208 minutes and 34 seconds of game action, since Stafford was intercepted on the opening series of the third quarter in the Lions’ Week 3 win over the New England Patriots.
Since then, Stafford has gone 90 pass attempts without an interception and the Lions have gone nearly 200 plays without losing a fumble.
“Part of it is making better throws, part of it is making better decisions,” Stafford said. “Part of it is all of us being on the same page. Like I said, turnovers happen for a bunch of different reasons. Sometimes it’s a bad throw, sometimes it’s a missed communication, sometimes it’s bad luck. Whatever it is. But just we’re doing everything we possibly can to make sure that we’re holding on to the ball as long as we can.”
The Lions lost their first two games of the season to the New York Jets and San Francisco 49ers in large part because they didn’t take care of the football.
Stafford threw four interceptions in the opener against the Jets and lost a careless fumble the following week in San Francisco, and the Lions dug themselves big holes in both games.
Since then, the Lions have just one turnover — that interception against the Patriots, when Stafford forced a pass to tight end Luke Willson across the middle — and have won three of their four games.
Stafford said taking care of the ball will be “hugely important” to the Lions’ success this Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks.
The Seahawks are tied for second in the NFL with a plus-7 turnover margin and they rank among the league leaders with nine interceptions.
The Lions are minus-1 in turnovers for the season, in part because they have just six takeaways, tied for fourth-fewest in the league.
“Last week I think Miami was leading the league in picks or whatever it was with 11 of them, and Seattle has a bunch, too,” Stafford said. “They do it the same kind of way. Got some great plays by outside guys, got some tipped balls that have ended up guys rallying and making plays. You watch their games, when they play really well and they win big it’s a big a part of the game and it’s got to be a big focus of ours. I know it is for me, I know it is for all the guys on our team to make sure that we control the football and make sure that we’re not doing anything too careless with it.”
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