QB Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions
HT: 6-2, WT: 225, Born: 2-7-1988, College: Georgia, Drafted: Round 1, Pick 1
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Stats and Week 21 Projection
Week 21 Injury Status and Other News
He was not listed on Friday's injury report.
Week 21 Matchup InfoThe Detroit Lions have a bye this week.
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Game SummariesWeek 1 vs MIN - Stafford and the Lions offense had a great opening game of the season. The game plan was much like the third game warm-up in the preseason: get the ball out of his hands quickly to let the playmakers do the dirty work. Stafford led Detroit up and down the field on the first few drives, but an overturned touchdown review on a pretty connection to Calvin Johnson and stalling twice in the red zone had the Lions down 7-3 after the first quarter. When the Lions offense was stagnant, it was not because of Stafford missing his targets, rather the receivers failing to convert on-point passes to the tune of five drops in the first half alone. The second half saw much less volume from the offense and another near touchdown from Stafford to Calvin Johnson. This time Stafford found his favorite receiver in the back of the end zone, but Johnson’s second foot came down on the end line. Later in the second half, Reggie Bush broke a long touchdown on a screen pass, which made up for one of the missed scores of Stafford-to-Johnson. Stafford took a hit to the head in the fourth quarter, but did not miss any time following the penalty. Stafford’s interception in the game was a result of a tipped pass at the line of scrimmage, not a poor throw into coverage.
Week 2 at ARI - It was an up-and-down game for Stafford with most of his production (150 yards of offense and two touchdowns) coming in the second quarter alone. The Lions offense missed plenty of opportunities to sustain drives along the way as well as a missed and blocked field goal to boot. After a slow start in Week 1, Stafford and Calvin Johnson got on track with a long catch-and-run touchdown that Stafford threw between two defenders and a goal line corner route. Stafford generally reacted well to pressure, not forcing the ball into coverage and living to fight another possession. In the second half, Stafford and the offense struggled to put together a drive of any substance. On one third down, Stafford was surprised by the snap and subsequently threw the ball into the ground over the middle. After the blocked field goal on the next drive, two drops forced a punt. Finally, when the offense had the ball with two minutes to play needing a touchdown to win it, Stafford threw two passes short of the first down marker on third and fourth down to end the game. Outside of two or three stick throws into tight coverage, Stafford’s day was filled with check down passes and missed opportunities.
Week 3 at WAS - In a game that was close the entire way, Stafford and the Detroit offense always looked in control. They moved the ball with ease on many occasions, despite interior pressure by the Washington pass rush. Stafford routinely delivered a strike down the field even with an oncoming rusher delivering a big hit. The sole reason Washington was in the game early on was due to Stafford and Calvin Johnson missing a connection on a slant route, which resulted in an interception returned for a touchdown. The Lions had 179 yards on offense in the first quarter alone as they moved the ball with ease. Stafford made two clutch plays that were the key to victory, both on third down and in the red zone. On one, Stafford eluded initial pressure in the pocket and found Joseph Fauria over the middle for the leaping touchdown in traffic. On the other, Stafford was looking for Johnson all the way on a slant route that clinched the game with a late fourth quarter touchdown. Which Stafford missed a few throws along the way and contributed the returned interception early in the game, every time Detroit needed to move the chains for make a big play Stafford was there and delivered. He fed Joique Bell in the passing game as if Reggie Bush was in the lineup, incorporated Ryan Broyles into the mix, and got Detroit a road victory.
Week 4 vs CHI - Despite the 40 points scored by Detroit and a win against divisional rival Chicago, it was a tough day for Stafford and passing game. Turnovers by Chicago and good field position helped Detroit quite a bit. Stafford was inaccurate on a number of throws, especially down the field when his receivers gained separation, mainly by Calvin Johnson and Kris Durham. Stafford and Calvin Johnson hooked up on a goal line fade route for a touchdown, but also missed on a wide open slant route in the red zone that would have resulted in a second score between the pair. Even Stafford’s touchdown run was a sloppy effort where he fumbled the ball up into the air on the goal line sneak, but luckily it came right back down into his arms. The Lions had a 40-16 lead at one point late in the game as offense routinely left the door open. The game came down to an onside kick with seconds to go and up by a single score. With Nate Burleson out of the lineup, the running backs and Brandon Pettigrew had the possession receiver role in the passing game.
Week 5 at GB - It was a slow start for the Lions offense in Green Bay without Calvin Johnson. Stafford looked a bit lost at times without his go-to receiver and Detroit tallied just 31 yards in the first quarter on two lackluster drives. The Packers kept the Lions in the game until late in the fourth quarter with a handful of field goal instead of touchdown drives, but Stafford could not capitalize. In obvious passing situations, Stafford held the ball too long resulting in sacks and mistimed throws. Stafford finally moved the ball with some success at the end of the first half with an extended drive and a field goal. Without Johnson, Stafford tried to find chemistry with Kris Durham, Reggie Bush, and his tight ends, but it was not there. High-pressure situations that were converted with Calvin Johnson and Nate Burleson in previous games this season turned into drops and sacks down the stretch against Green Bay. The running game offered little balance to the Detroit offense even when the game was within reach and Detroit had just 170 yards and three points even through three quarters. In garbage time, Stafford finally found the end zone with a wide open Kris Durham on a post route. There will be better days ahead for Stafford as they were against a tough divisional opponent on the road and without his two primary targets from earlier this season.
Week 6 at CLE - After a slow start against Cleveland, Stafford got on track with 24 second half points and the road victory. The Lions offense mustered just 109 total yards and seven points in the first half. Stafford was off-target on a handful of throws to stall drives. Calvin Johnson was returning from injury and a lack of practices this week. The lack of chemistry between Johnson and Stafford was apparent. Joe Haden matched up against Johnson most of the day, so Stafford looked to Kris Durham and Reggie Bush in the passing game. Drops and inaccuracy were the primary reasons the offense stalled in the first half, not pressure from the Cleveland defense or turnovers. With a ten-point deficit in the second half, the Lions offense found a groove getting Reggie Bush in space and Stafford’s bold throws to Joseph Fauria in the red zone. The game would have been decided earlier in the fourth quarter if not for a Stafford pass to Patrick Edwards that was tipped into an interception at the goal line. The Lions defense made key stops in the second half, which kept Stafford and the offense comfortably within reach.
Week 7 vs CIN - Stafford and the Lions offense controlled the clock and moved the ball consistently early in the game, but not the scoreboard. While Stafford made the routine throws in the first half, the high-leverage opportunities down the field eluded him. A prime example was a drive early in the second quarter. Stafford had three chances on deep throws into the end zone, but all three were a little off, allowing defenders to tip the ball away or making the catch too difficult. To make matters worse, a field goal was blocked at the end of that drives featuring missed opportunities for touchdowns. Stafford attempted a career-high 29 passes in the first half, but had just ten points and a deficit to show for his efforts. In the second half, Stafford came to life and fueling Detroit’s comeback effort, nearly to a win. Trailing 21-10 and facing a third-and-long deep in his own territory, Stafford shifted the momentum with a perfect pass deep down the sidelines to Kevin Ogletree. Stafford added two more elite throws, one to Calvin Johnson facing a heavy pass rush and on a back-shoulder end zone pass to Johnson, to cap the much-needed touchdown drive. Stafford tied the game in the fourth quarter with a hail mary-style play from midfield. He eluded the rush, circling behind the line of scrimmage, then heaved the ball into the end zone where Johnson was able to high-point the pass above three defenders. That tied the game, which lead to Detroit having a chance with the ball in the final two minutes to win the game. Stafford was pressured twice in a row, which forced a punt and ultimately the game.
Week 8 vs DAL - Stafford and Lions offense worked their way up and down the field in the first half against Dallas, but had little to show for it on the scoreboard. Stafford was erratic during that span in addition to a tipped interception and Sean Lee reading Stafford’s eyes all the way on a slant route resulting in a second interception. All told Detroit amassed 254 total yards, but just seven points, to trail at halftime. Stafford and Calvin Johnson had a great chemistry all game, the pair combined for over 300 yards a touchdown with two other near scores along the way. In the second half, turnovers continued to halt drives with a pair of fumbles for the Lions. Stafford was sharp down the stretch when Detroit trailed and was in full-blown catch-up mode. The mistakes subsided and Stafford’s boldness downfield paid big dividends. Stafford led the offense straight down the field, leaning on Reggie Bush and Calvin Johnson early in the fourth quarter. Stafford was unfazed by the many turnovers as he targeted Johnson and Kris Durham deep in the closing minutes. Stafford threaded the needle down the sidelines to Durham and then to Johnson on a slant route on the final drive, the clock was ticking as Detroit trailed by six points. Johnson was tackled at the one-yard-line on the prior play, leaving the offense rushing to the line of scrimmage for a presumed spike to stop the clock. Stafford called his own number as he leaped over the offensive line, stretching the ball across for the game-winning score. With no timeouts remaining, it was an all-in decision that paid off for Stafford and the Lions. Stafford has now thrown 40 or more passes in six-of-eight games this season as Detroit is averaging the second-most passes per game in the NFL.
Week 10 at CHI - The strong connection between Stafford and Calvin Johnson continued as the pair had 15 or more targets between them for the third straight game. No other Detroit player had more than six looks in the passing game. Stafford was highly efficient on a long touchdown drive in the first quarter with three strong throws to convert third downs. He was comfortable in the pocket and accurate when finding the open receiver in his progression. Stafford culminated the drive with a goal line slant to Kris Durham. Before finishing the game strong, Stafford struggled at points when Detroit could have put Chicago away with a touchdown or two. Stafford missed Johnson down the sidelines with an uncatchable pass, misfired on a flat route to Reggie Bush on third down, and airmailed a throw over the middle to Johnson that resulted in an easy interception. That turnover staked Chicago in the red zone at a crucial moment in the game. Stafford rebounded from that stretch with big plays to Joseph Fauria down the seam as well as two big throws to Johnson. Stafford’s 35 attempts actually marked his lowest total of the season and it was his first game with less than 20 completions. Chicago has been a tough opponent for Stafford in his career with nine touchdowns and nine interceptions in six games prior to this season. Stafford, outside of a single interception this week, was able to avoid the big mistake and get his first career win in Chicago.
Week 11 at PIT - It was a very up-and-down performance by Stafford in Pittsburgh this week. The passing game put up almost an entire game’s worth of production in the second quarter alone with 27 points and over 200 yards through the air. The other three quarters, especially the second half, Stafford and his receivers struggled to be on the same page. In first quarter, the theme was Stafford missing open targets. He overthrew Brandon Pettigrew, Kevin Ogletree, and Reggie Bush on potential big plays, leading to a 14-3 deficit. Defensive pressure was not a significant factor early in the game, Stafford outright missed his targets in addition to a few pass breakups by Pittsburgh’s defensive backs. In the second quarter, Detroit, as it can when playing up to its lofty potential, moved up and down the field at will. Stafford and Calvin Johnson connected for two touchdowns and well over 100 yards in that quarter of play alone. Stafford’s highlight play was fading away from pressure on a third-and-long as he connected with Johnson across the field in the final minute of the first half. Stafford’s arm strength was on display as he had zero leg drive behind his pass. This was Stafford’s first career game with over 300 yards in the first half as Detroit gained a 27-20 lead. In this game Stafford also became the all-time passing yardage leader for the Detroit franchise. In the final 30 minutes Stafford and the offense went into hibernation. Stafford was pressured in the pocket, a noticeable difference from the first half, and Detroit’s lone sustaining drive stalled in the red zone with an unsuccessful, and questionable, fake field goal. As Detroit was forced into catch-up mode late in the game, Stafford ended their chances with an interception. Stafford did not see the roaming safety on a deep route to Calvin Johnson, resulting in the easy turnover. After the hot second quarter, Stafford was just 3-of-16 for 35 yards and an interception in the second half. It was a disappointing effort for Stafford and the offense after building a halftime lead on the road.
Week 12 vs TB - It has become a weekly mainstay that the Detroit offense looks good for stretches, but then bogs down with mistakes and turnovers. That recipe was in full effect against Tampa Bay as Stafford through four interceptions, fumbled, and mixed a few glaring missed throws. Stafford threw behind Nate Burleson and Calvin Johnson on two early throws, one turning into an interception. Stafford rebounded with a perfect touchdown throw to Joseph Fauria in the corner of the end zone. With the early lead, Stafford kept Tampa Bay in the game with an interception returned for a touchdown and missing Johnson on a potential long touchdown before halftime. Against the blitz, Stafford threw a bullet in the direction of Brandon Pettigrew in the flat. Pettigrew was not ready for the pass and a defender broke on the ball for the turnover and touchdown. Johnson got free down the field against single coverage on a post route, with plenty of open field in front of him, but Stafford overthrew him by a wide margin. Instead of a 21-10 lead, Detroit trailed 17-14. Like usual, Detroit piled up the yardage in the first half, but two interceptions and missed throws kept the game close. Stafford got hot on the opening drive of the second half with strong throws to Johnson and then a perfect seam route to Pettigrew for the touchdown. Instead of finishing off Tampa Bay at that point, Stafford did not identify the roaming safety on an easy interception on a deep throw to Calvin Johnson. Detroit was already in field goal position at the time, taking points off the board. Then Stafford fumbled a third down snap, killing another drive, which ended with a blocked punt. With the game on the line, and down three points, Stafford had a chance for redemption. Stafford drove the team into field goal range. On third down, fading back in the pocket, Stafford found Johnson down the field. It was caught, and then popped out by a hit. The ball floated in the air and was hauled in by a defensive back. Detroit found a way to lose a winnable game at home against a lesser opponent. More than defensive pressure, the Lions offense struggled with the basics: accurate passes and strong plays when the ball is in the air. This loss may come back to haunt Detroit later in the season.
Week 13 vs GB - It was another off-balance start for Stafford and the offense against Green Bay this week. With 11 minutes of time of possession in the first quarter, Detroit moved the ball at will straight down the field twice only to lose a fumble and kick a field goal with a pair of red zone trips. The offense was gobbling up yards only to squander away opportunities for a big lead. Stafford contributed being stripping while in the pocket and an interception on the next two possessions. Detroit managed to rack up yardage, but post three turnovers and a field goal through four possessions. Green Bay could muster little with the ball and Detroit, in typical fashion this season, struggled to be efficient on offense. Finally, in the second quarter Stafford found his game and put the offense on his back. Strikes to Reggie Bush on a double-move and a touchdown slant to Jeremy Ross fueled two touchdown drives to take a 17-10 lead. Despite a huge advantage in total yards in the first half (340 to Green Bay’s 43), a missed field goal in the closing minute left the game in doubt at 17-10 heading into halftime. Stafford reduced the mistakes in the second half has Detroit cruised to a 30-point victory. Stafford converted three straight third downs to Calvin Johnson in one stretch, including a touchdown, in the third quarter alone. Late in the game, Stafford finished off the Packers with a gorgeous back-shoulder touchdown throw to Kevin Ogletree that was corralled with one hand. While Stafford led a strong win against a divisional opponent, the first four drives and the propensity to turn the ball over with regularity are still a real danger to this offense down the stretch. Green Bay’s lack of production made the game difficult to lose for Detroit regardless of their consistent early turnovers. Like in previous weeks, Stafford and the offense can resemble one of the best units in the NFL for stretches, followed by head-scratching spells that can keep any opponent in the game.
Week 14 at PHI - The weather story of the week in the NFL was the fast-developing snow storm that hit Philadelphia leading up to kickoff for the Lions game. At its height, the field had over a half foot of snow and Stafford and the offense clearly had issues handling the weather. Stafford had five fumbles for the game, losing just one, and three of them came in the first eight minutes of game time. Turnovers and a lack of timing on offense led to three-and-outs and two squandered drives in Philadelphia territory. Stafford had difficulty powering the ball through the snow downfield. Two glaring examples came on a deep pass on the first possession coming up a full ten yards short to Kris Durham and missing Calvin Johnson by an equal margin in the second half. The offensive line gave Stafford ample time in the pocket on a majority of drop backs. Even on Detroit’s two touchdown drives, Stafford and the receivers struggled to execute plays well. As the kicking game was rendered useless given the conditions, Stafford converted one two-point conversion on a tipped pass to Joique Bell and airmailed a fade route attempt to Joseph Fauria on another. With eight minutes left and down by eight points, a wild snap got away from Stafford and he was not able to recover it deep in the backfield. That play encapsulated Detroit’s offensive day as Philadelphia scored again to put the game out of reach. With a chance to put a stranglehold on the divisional race, Detroit squandered a 14-0 third quarter lead as Stafford completed just 40% of his passes on the day.
Week 15 vs BAL - In a crucial game for Detroit’s playoff chances, Stafford and the Detroit passing offense came up small against the Ravens at home. Stafford’s accuracy was scattershot most of the game and the receivers, especially Calvin Johnson, threw in some dropped passes for good measure. All three of Stafford’s interceptions were on inaccurate passes and turnovers kept the game close despite Baltimore accumulating only field goals in the game. Stafford did show have sporadic highlight passes; his deep ball was accurate on a number of passes. Kris Durham had a potential long touchdown go off his fingertips with a questionable no-call of pass interference and Stafford delivered a dart down the seam to Joseph Fauria for a late touchdown against tight coverage. The final and most errant pass came with Detroit trailing 18-16 with 38 seconds to play. Detroit needed 35-40 yards for a potential game-winning field goal attempt. Stafford airmailed a pass well-over the head of Nate Burleson on the first play of the drive, an easy interception to ice the game for Baltimore. This was Stafford’s fourth game with multiple interceptions in his last seven outings with 13 touchdowns and 13 interceptions over that span.
Week 16 vs NYG - For a second straight week Detroit had a crippling late loss at home with the playoffs on the line. Stafford tossed two interceptions and had three other passes that could have easily resulted in turnovers against the Giants. Stafford has had one of the worst three-week stretches of his career with one touchdown and five interceptions culminating with this loss. Stafford did not look comfortable without a fully-healthy Calvin Johnson and did not throw well when moved off of his spot in the pocket. When fading back in the pocket, Stafford threw into traffic and was inaccurate when big-play opportunities presented themselves. Two sacks were untimely as one took Detroit out of field goal range early in the game and another took the ball out of Stafford’s hands with a minute to play in regulation and a chance to claim victory. On the plus side, Stafford avoided pressure and converted a third-and-17, finding Joseph Fauria on a deep out route. Detroit held a 99-to-1 total yardage advantage in the third quarter, yet still trailed heading into the fourth quarter. Stafford airmailed a wide open Joseph Fauria over the middle and a tipped pass resulted in an easy interception in the final six minutes. Without Calvin Johnson making his usual big plays, Stafford struggled to find a rhythm.
Week 17 at MIN - Without Calvin Johnson in the lineup, Stafford and the passing game curled into a shell of its former high-flying self. Minnesota’s defense played an inspired game in what was the final Vikings game in the Metrodome. The Detroit offense was anemic the entire first half, accruing just 56 total yards, the fewest for the Lions in over two years. Detroit totaled more punts, five, than first downs, three, in the first 30 minutes. While Stafford was 8-of-12 in the first half, Detroit was consistently off-schedule with long-yardage situations. Stafford found more of a rhythm in the third quarter, manufacturing a touchdown drive including a long gain to Nate Burleson between defenders over the middle. Stafford stumbled on a scramble attempt from the five-yard-line, squandering a potential touchdown opportunity early in the fourth quarter. When Detroit moved the ball late in the game, they bogged down in field goal range. The final straw came with five minutes to play as Stafford missed Kevin Ogletree on a slant route. They ended up punting on the edge of field goal range, only to stand on the sidelines as Minnesota’s offense salted away the remaining time. Stafford averaged less than seven yards-per-attempt this week and finishes the year with two touchdowns and five interceptions over the final four games.