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Lions QB Matt Stafford Struggling This Season

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DETROIT, MI - SEPTEMBER 09: Matthew Stafford #9 of the Detroit Lions warms up prior to the start of the season opener against the St. Louis Rams at Ford Field on September 9, 2012 in Detroit, Michigan.  (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)

DETROIT, MI – SEPTEMBER 09: Matthew Stafford #9 of the Detroit Lions warms up prior to the start of the season opener against the St. Louis Rams at Ford Field on September 9, 2012 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)

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By LARRY LAGE, AP Sports Writer

ALLEN PARK (AP) - Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford refuses to blame his lackluster season on a depleted surrounding cast.

Stafford ranks 24th among quarterbacks after being among the best last year. He has thrown 17 touchdowns and 15 interceptions, a season after breaking out with 41 TDs and 16 interceptions.

The fourth-year pro expected to pick apart defenses by throwing to Calvin Johnson, Nate Burleson, Titus Young and Ryan Broyles. If none of those receivers was open, he looked forward to connecting with Brandon Pettigrew and Tony Scheffler. If the tight ends were covered, tossing a short pass to speedy running back Jahvid Best seemed a good option.

Not so much.

Stafford might have only two of the aforementioned targets Saturday night against Atlanta.

(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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