Stafford off to hot start

Lions QB earning his big contract extension

The Lions’Matthew Stafford has a passer rating of 102 this season.
The Lions’Matthew Stafford has a passer rating of 102 this season.

ALLEN PARK, Mich. — The Detroit Lions made a big investment in quarterback Matthew Stafford during the offseason and, so far, he’s earning it.

The fifth-year veteran has 635 passing yards and four touchdowns two games into the season. He signed an extension that will pay him $41.5 million in guaranteed money and as much as $76.5 million total.

He’ll get a chance to add to his hot start Sunday when the Lions travel to Washington, which has seen opposing signal-callers complete 73 percent of their passes with six touchdowns in the new season.

“I’m just trying to play smart. I’ve had another year of experience,” Stafford said Tuesday.

Stafford was 24 for 36 through the air in Sunday’s 25-21 loss at Arizona for 278 yards and two touchdown passes to Calvin Johnson, including a 72-yarder. He’s completed 66 percent of his passes so far this season against one interception for a passer rating of 102.

The addition of Reggie Bush has seen the Lions calling more short passing plays. Stafford said teams shouldn’t expect that to be the norm.

“They’re forcing us to take the underneath stuff. If they’re going to play deep, we’re going to play catch-and-run and make them pay for it,” he said.

The Lions rank eighth in total offense this season and are seventh in passing offense. They’re tied for sixth-most points scored.

He’s one of just four players to throw for more than 5,000 yards in a season and recorded the best passer rating for a Lions quarterback (97.4) when the Lions secured a wildcard playoff berth in 2011.

Still, a handful of mistakes, including a pass-interference penalty that set up Arizona’s go-ahead touchdown last weekend left some bemoaning the state of the “same old Lions.”

“I don’t really listen to it and don’t pay attention to it,” he said.

“We’re doing everything we can to play as clean of football as we possibly can and make as little mistakes as we can.”

He could use some help from his receivers. The Lions and Patriots lead the league with eight dropped passes in the first two games.