For now, Matthew Stafford is the greatest quarterback in Detroit Lions’ history––in the modern era anyway–– and it’s not even close. He’s provided the city of Detroit with countless memories stemming from his rookie season when he orchestrated the game-winning drive/touchdown against the Browns. Another memory that Stafford provided is the fake-spike against the Dallas Cowboys (2013) for the go-ahead touchdown, sealing a comeback victory.
During his time in Detroit, Stafford has racked up many stats, earned a Pro Bowl nod, and even added a few NFL records to his resume.
Nevertheless, for all of the personal accomplishments Stafford earned in a Lions uniform, none amounted to postseason success, as his playoff record is 0-3. With this being a fact, not an opinion, it was rather interesting to hear his remarks last week regarding playing in big games. In an interview with Mitch Albom of the Detroit Free Press, Stafford said something that could (and should) rub some Lions’ fans the wrong way.
“I’ve always wanted to play in those big games; I feel like I will excel in those situations,” said Stafford in his interview with Albom.
Here’s where we have to acknowledge everything wrong with that quote because Stafford is disingenuous here by saying that.
The reason? Well, to my knowledge (and I am sure the reader’s too), a playoff game is one of “those big games.” And Stafford is not only goose egg in each one he played in, but he also regressed in those games.
Stafford losing in his first playoff game to the Saints is not all on him.
Matthew Stafford played as well as any Detroit Lions fan could ask for in his first playoff appearance.
In the Lions’ 45-28 loss to the New Orleans Saints in the Wildcard (2012), Stafford went 28 for 43 for 380 yards, three touchdowns, and two interceptions. He also ran for 1-yard to punch in a TD for the lions as well. Stafford was responsible for all of the Lions’ points during that bludgeoning, so his two picks are excusable because they were on throws where he was trying to get the Lions back in the game.
The Lions’ defense, which forced two fumbles––both recovered by Justin Durant––didn’t give much help outside of that. The Saints’ Drew Brees lit the Lions up for 466 yards and three touchdowns. Their effort, while somewhat admirable, was not was Stafford needed. He needed more than that. So in that regard, it’s hard to fault him for that loss.
However, the next two are all on him.
The Lions loss to the Cowboys in the Wildcard (2015) was more than just bad officiating. The Lions’ QB struggled as well.
Let’s get this out of the way now. The NFL referees ROBBED the Lions in the 2015 Wildcard playoff game vs. the Dallas Cowboys.
The Lions had the Cowboys right where they wanted them. The score was 20-17 midway through the fourth quarter. That elusive playoff victory the franchise was chasing was within reach.
Then Pete Morelli happened.
Morelli, who was officiating that game, called pass interference on Cowboys’ Anthony Hitchens on a third-down pass to Lions’ Brandon Pettigrew. And then the referees reversed the decision with no explanation. Everyone knows how this story plays out, so there is no need to pour salt on a still-open wound.
Despite that, it wasn’t the only reason the Lions lost that game. Part of that blame has to go to Matthew Stafford as well. Stafford threw for 323 yards, one touchdown, and one pick.
Not to forget, after that horrible call reversal, Stafford still fumbled the ball two times with the Lions only down by four points. Outside of the first quarter, the Lions did not get another touchdown in that game. They relied solely on Matt Prater trying to “kick” them to victory.
Three turnovers from the starting quarterback in a close game is a recipe for disaster. And even with such an abysmal effort, it pales in comparison to his last playoff game as a Lion.
Stafford and the entire Lions offense did not show up at all.
The Detroit Lions’ most recent playoff game was a 26-6 loss to the Seattle Seahawks in the Wildcard (2017). Being fair to Matthew Stafford, he had a helluva mountain to climb. The Seahawks had the third-ranked defense during that season, and we all know how real the “Legion of Boom” was at that time.
Nevertheless, Stafford did not perform well. He went 18 for 32 for 205 yards. He finished with a QB rating of 75.7. Those six points that the Lions scored did not come from a touchdown either. Instead, they came from Mr. Reliable, Matt Prater. Counting his performance in 2015, Stafford has seven straight quarters in the postseason without a touchdown. Again, this is not an opinion, but it’s a stone-cold fact.
Matthew Stafford is a good quarterback, but along with being winless in the playoffs, his record is 10-55 against playoff teams. So when he states that he feels he’s excel in big-game situations, it’s only just a feeling.
The facts dictate otherwise. Maybe his luck can change in Los Angeles.