Sports

Rams’ Stafford: Lions game ‘just like every other’

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Matthew Stafford stood at a podium in the bowels of MetLife Stadium on Sunday to answer questions about a 38-11 rout over the New York Giants. Then when asked about an upcoming Week 7 matchup against the Detroit Lions, his team of 12 seasons, the Los Angeles Rams quarterback deftly responded.

“Just like every other game,” Stafford said when asked how he’d prepare for his former team. “It’s an NFL opponent coming into our building.”

However, Stafford admitted that some extraordinary exchanges were bound to happen ahead of kickoff next Sunday at SoFi Stadium.

“In pregame, am I going to be saying hey to some old teammates and friends, the Ford family, hopefully, if they make the trip? Absolutely,” Stafford said. “I’ve got nothing but great relationships with people over there, so have a lot of respect for the organization, the team, the ownership.”

The Lions selected Stafford with the first overall pick in 2009, but after 12 seasons and three winless playoff appearances, Stafford requested that the organization trade him after last season, ending his time in Detroit with a 74-90-1 record and with two seasons remaining on a five-year, $135 million contract.

To acquire the one-time Pro Bowl quarterback in a blockbuster deal, the Rams sent Detroit two first-round picks, a third-round pick and quarterback Jared Goff, who Rams general manager Les Snead traded up 15 spots to select first overall in the 2016 draft and who led the Rams to a Super Bowl LIII appearance.

Under Goff, 27, and first-year coach Dan Campbell, the Lions are 0-6, and are the first team in NFL history to lose two games on last-second field goals of 50 yards or longer in a season.

“It will be just another football game once the ball is snapped,” Stafford said.

Stafford, 33, has led the Super Bowl hopeful Rams to a 5-1 start and has passed for 16 touchdowns, which ranks third in the NFL behind Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes and Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady.

Stafford’s 16 passing touchdowns also are the most by any quarterback through his first six games with a team in NFL history, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

However, both Stafford and coach Sean McVay have recently admitted that there is not only room, but a need, for improvement.

On Sunday against the 1-5 Giants, the offense relied on a dominant defensive performance that included four turnovers to help overcome a slow start and scoreless first quarter. The offense converted three takeaways into touchdowns on a short field.

Stafford completed 22 of 28 passes for 251 yards and four touchdowns, with an interception, and running back Darrell Henderson rushed 2 yards for a score.

But still, McVay expects to be better.

“There’s just some sharper things that we can do at more of a premium level, execution wise, and then mostly where I’m frustrated with is myself on some of the decisions,” McVay said. “Just having a better feel for the flow of the game and those are the things that really bother me because those are things that I have to be better for our team for.”

“There’s room for improvement,” Stafford said. “But I’m proud of the way that we just stuck to it.”

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