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How Lions maintain Stafford's Mr. Clean QB record

The SportsXchange

ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford has been sacked a league-low 10 times while averaging a league-high 41.4 passes per game.

"A lot of credit should go to (the line)," Stafford said. "Our receivers are doing a great job of getting open. We're slowing them down with screens and that kind of stuff. But when we've needed to hold onto the ball and throw it down the field, we've been able to do it."

The Lions replaced both starting tackles - inserting second-year Riley Reiff on the left side and undrafted rookie LaAdrian Waddle on the right. Rookie third-round pick Larry Warford has been an anchor at right guard, while veterans Dominic Raiola and Rob Sims continue to be rock solid at center and left guard.

"We go back to the drawing board every week and we tee it up every week," Raiola said. "It's something we take a lot of pride in, protecting him and keeping him upright."

Against the Bears last week, Stafford wasn't sacked or hit in 35 pass attempts.

"It's stuff we talk about week in and week out, trying to be as good as we possibly can at avoiding negative plays all together, and sacks are definitely a part of that," Stafford said.

Warford and Waddle got a lot of credit, and rightly so, for their run blocking late in the game Sunday.

Unnoticed, though, was the superb run blocking on that side by tight end Brandon Pettigrew. Coach Jim Schwartz praised Pettigrew for doing a lot of the "dirty work" to unhinge the run game.

"Reggie (Bush) had a big run (11 yards) late in the game," he said. "It was just a real simple play right up the middle and it was over our right side, which is Warford and LaAdrian. I think a lot of people look at that and say, 'Oh, the two rookies made the play.' They executed their blocks, but the key block on that play was Pettigrew. Pettigrew's the guy that has the hardest angle and got his guy blocked, and Reggie's able to squirt through there and pick up a first down late in that game and set up that game-winning touchdown."

NOTES: Bush marvels at the athleticism of defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh. "He's an athlete," Bush said. "That's the scary thing about him; that a guy that big can be as fast as he is and as strong as he is. I am sure he can dunk and do it all." Asked if he'd be afraid of Suh on a basketball court, Bush said, "Oh yeah, definitely. Look at me - I am only 5-11. I wouldn't take that charge."
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