QB Matthew Stafford - Detroit Lions
|6-2, 225||Born: 2-7-1988||College: Georgia||Drafted: Round 1, pick 2009|
2019 Week 1 vs ARI (27 / 45 / 385 / 3 / 0 pass, 3 / 22 / 0 rush)
Matthew Stafford had a solid week one performance against the Cardinals building a big lead before the Cardinals forced a tie. Stafford's touchdowns were two easy throws to Danny Amendola and Kenny Golladay on schemes that created broken coverages, then a good scramble drill with T.J. Hockenson in the red zone. Stafford was not perfect, as he was stripped from the blind side sack. He found easy success on targets to Hockenson, Marvin Jones, and Danny Amendola, while he struggled to connected with Kenny Golladay, including a throw that could have sealed a Detroit win that Golladay did not break on. Stafford has the opportunity for another big game in a could be shoot out in week two at home against the Chargers.
2019 Week 2 vs LAC (22 / 30 / 245 / 2 / 2 pass, 4 / 13 / 0 rush)
Matthew Stafford played well in a win against the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday. Detroit established the run early with a backfield led by Kerryon Johnson and a game plan that largely played close to the vest. Stafford threw a touchdown early on a terrifically designed screen to Kerryon Johnson, that Johnson initially bobbled, but secured and ran in for a long touchdown. Stafford closed out a comeback win with a big-time touchdown throw to Kenny Golladay on a post while covered by Casey Hayward. Stafford was sharp, exploiting the perimeter with well-placed throws to Marvin Jones and Golladay. Stafford threw two interceptions, one a deep ball to Golladay that Golladay got overpowered on, and a second on a throw into coverage to Jones. Stafford was otherwise efficient and made plays in critical spots, including a fourth down conversion to Jones in the fourth quarter. He also ran for a third down conversion where he took a big hit at the end of the play. With a history of injuries, his health is important to monitor during the week.
2019 Week 3 vs PHI (18 / 32 / 201 / 1 / 0 pass, 3 / 1 / 0 rush)
Matthew Stafford had a quiet statistical game against the Eagles. Stafford threw a well-placed touchdown pass to Marvin Jones on a crossing route for his only score but had multiple other opportunities that did not convert. He threw a pass to Kenny Golladay in the end zone that was well covered and completed a touchdown pass to T.J. Hockenson, but Hockenson had stepped out of the end zone before the catch. Stafford was not at his best during the game, nearly throwing an interception on a pass to Danny Amendola and missing Marvin Jones on a pair of inaccurate passes, but could have had a bigger day. Jones had the opportunity for a big play on a double move but fell after the catch and Golladay had multiple opportunities to make plays but could not make catches. Stafford will need Golladay to play better to help his fantasy prospects next week against the Chiefs.
2019 Week 4 vs KC (21 / 34 / 291 / 3 / 0 pass, 2 / 18 / 0 rush)
Matthew Stafford started against the Chiefs after being questionable during the week with a hip injury. Stafford played well and looked mobile with no visual limitations from the injury. Stafford threw the ball particularly well throughout the game, including a throw that threaded defenders in the red zone to Kenny Golladay for a touchdown. The throw was one only a handful of quarterbacks have the arm to make. Stafford also threw an open touchdown to T.J. Hockenson out of a bunch set and a good throw to the perimeter to Golladay who dragged two feet in bounds for the third score. Stafford could have had an even bigger day, but for a weird sequence in the red zone. Stafford threw what looked like a touchdown to Golladay along the back of the end zone, but Golladay bobbled the ball and it was ruled an incomplete pass. On the next play, Stafford scrambled but fumbled just short of the endzone that was recovered by the Chiefs. Stafford also had a well-placed throw down the seam to Hockenson that was dropped. Stafford played without Danny Amendola and lost Hockenson to injury during the game, but neither hurt his fantasy performance. Stafford is off for a bye next week before facing the Green Bay Packers on Monday night in week six.
2019 Week 6 vs GB (18 / 32 / 265 / 0 / 0 pass, 3 / 9 / 0 rush)
Matthew Stafford started off hot against the Packers with deep strikes to Kenny Golladay and Marvin Hall on the first two drives to set up scoring chances. The offense stagnated multiple times in the red zone, including once because of a Stafford fumble and another because of delay of game. Stafford had an opportunity for a touchdown, with multiple throws inside the ten-yard line, including a quick screen to T.J. Hockenson where Hockenson fell just short of the end zone. Stafford threw the ball well but failed to perform in critical situations where he could have had a multiple touchdown game. Stafford will face a good Minnesota team at home next week.
2019 Week 7 vs MIN (30 / 45 / 364 / 4 / 1 pass, 0 / 0 / 0 rush)
Matthew Stafford had the best game of his season against the Vikings in a shootout on Sunday. Stafford made good decisions, was accurate, and was well protected throughout the game. After suffering injuries early in the season, Stafford has looked fine physically and made mobile moves to extend plays. Stafford threw four touchdowns, all to Marvin Jones from the red zone. Jones and Stafford have a strong rapport and the Lions offense is at its most dangerous when Jones is getting heavy volume. Stafford also threw the ball well to Danny Amendola while Kenny Golladay had a quiet game. Stafford did throw an interception in garbage time. He will face the Giants next week at home.
2019 Week 8 vs NYG (25 / 32 / 342 / 3 / 1 pass, 2 / -3 / 0 rush)
Matthew Stafford had a good performance against the New York Giants on Sunday, throwing for three touchdowns. Stafford threw an ill-advised interception on the first drive of the game, where he severely underthrew Marvin Jones in double coverage. Stafford bounced back with an efficient game and showed a particularly good rhythm with Danny Amendola. Stafford's first touchdown was a deep ball to Marvin Hall, who has become a shot target for Stafford in recent weeks. Stafford added two touchdowns to Kenny Golladay, the first a contested catch along the sideline on a red zone throw and the second a trick play where the Giants busted a coverage. Stafford continues to get better protection from the offensive line than he has in prior years and will get a good matchup next week against the Raiders.
2019 Week 9 vs OAK (26 / 41 / 406 / 3 / 1 pass, 3 / 6 / 0 rush)
Matthew Stafford produced a strong fantasy day despite struggling with accuracy in a loss to the Raiders. Stafford benefitted form big plays, including long throws to Marvin Jones and a long touchdown to Kenny Golladay on a busted coverage. Stafford later added a touchdown to Marvin Jones on a red zone post route and a touchdown to J.D. McKissic on a corner route out of the backfield. While his stat line looked good, Stafford took two bad sacks including one on the final drive of the game, threw an interception intended for Golladay that was underthrown, and missed multiple receivers. This was one of Stafford's better fantasy games but he left throws and decisions on the field that could have helped Detroit get a road win. Stafford will face the Bears next week on the road.
2018 Week 1 vs NYJ (27 / 46 / 286 / 1 / 4 pass, 1 / 6 / 0 rush)
Matthew Stafford had a terrible start to the season. He was inaccurate and made bad reads, which led to four interceptions. Stafford appeared injured twice. First, Stafford looked like he sustained a knee injury where his left tackle looked to clip his knee. Stafford hobbled for a few plays, but was able to remain in the game, and maintained his movement ability. The second injury was where he got hit while he was throwing by two defenders. He remained on the ground for a period but was able to return on the next series. The injury looked more like he had the wind knocked out of him than a risk for a head injury. Stafford was inaccurate and looked to be rusty after similar struggles in the third preseason game. Stafford could have saved his fantasy day in garbage time, but the team stalled out in the red zone including a T.J. Jones drop in the red zone. Several Jets defenders commented after the game Stafford was tipping his plays based off their knowledge of his hand signals and calls at the line, a trend that will likely require an adjustment.
2018 Week 2 vs SF (34 / 53 / 347 / 3 / 0 pass, 1 / 8 / 0 rush)
In a game that looked good on the stat sheet, Matthew Stafford had the opportunity for a historic performance but missed several throws he ordinarily makes. Stafford missed three deep throws to Marvin Jones and a fourth to Kenny Golladay that were opportunities for 50+ yard touchdown passes. Stafford was equally erratic in the underneath, missing short throws to Theo Riddick and Golden Tate multiple times. Stafford had an opportunity for a red zone touchdown pass but overthrew Marvin Jones on a post. Stafford also had a bad lost fumble on a roll out play. Stafford's day was strong from a fantasy perspective, throwing touchdown passes in the red zone to Michael Roberts and Marvin Jones. Stafford's other touchdown was a play action pass to Golladay that Golladay made a great effort along the sideline to get into the end zone. Stafford was inaccurate in week three of the preseason and that has spilled over to the first two games of the season. If he can get his accuracy on track, the Detroit offense has juggernaut potential.
2018 Week 3 vs NE (27 / 36 / 262 / 2 / 1 pass, 1 / 10 / 0 rush)
Matthew Stafford was well protected against a New England defense that struggled to generate a pass rush. Stafford was more accurate, throwing with better touch than in recent weeks. Stafford's first touchdown was a well thrown side arm pass to Kenny Golladay at the goal line. His second was a deep over route to Marvin Jones that was likely a blown coverage. Stafford showed the ability to escape and throw when under pressure and was only sacked once. Stafford could have had a bigger day but overthrew Marvin Jones on a post in the end zone. Stafford's interception was a bad throw off his back foot on third down on a crossing route to Luke Willson.
2018 Week 4 vs DAL (24 / 30 / 307 / 2 / 0 pass, 2 / 5 / 0 rush)
Matthew Stafford had a good game against the Dallas Cowboys. Stafford threw for two touchdowns and 307 yards on only 30 attempts. While the number may look like he was successful down the field, it was big run after catches by Golden Tate for two long touchdowns that accounted for the high yards per attempt. Stafford was better than earlier in the season and was largely efficient outside of a couple missed throws. He also showed good ability to escape pressure throughout the game. Stafford has a strong arsenal of weapons and when kept upright this type of game is a floor for his production.
2018 Week 5 vs GB (14 / 26 / 183 / 2 / 0 pass, 1 / -1 / 0 rush)
Matthew Stafford had a low volume game against Green Bay largely the result of an early lead set up by Green Bay turnovers. Stafford had two touchdown passes, a post to Kenny Golladay and a back of the end zone throw to Marvin Jones. Stafford could have had a bigger day, with Marvin Jones dropping a long touchdown and Kenny Golladay getting tackled inside the five on a long reception. Detroit benefits from LeGarrette Blount's red zone ability, but it put a cap on Stafford's red zone attempts. Stafford was only sacked three times and showed the ability to get out of the pocket and create when plays broke down.
2018 Week 7 vs MIA (18 / 22 / 217 / 2 / 0 pass, 4 / 9 / 0 rush)
Matthew Stafford threw only 22 times, his second fewest attempts in a victory in his career. Stafford was efficient but took a backseat to a running game that carved up the Miami defense. Stafford threw two red zone touchdowns to Michael Roberts and could have had more. He nearly missed a third when Marvin Jones was interfered with on a deep target and had a touchdown throw on a highpoint catch by Kenny Golladay called back by penalty. The passing game was highly efficient albeit low volume. The success of the running game may keep Stafford's volume lower than normal but provides the opportunity for expanded efficiency in the play action passing game.
2018 Week 8 vs SEA (27 / 40 / 310 / 2 / 1 pass, 1 / 6 / 0 rush)
Matthew Stafford struggled with turnovers in a loss to Seattle. Stafford lost a fumble when he was scrambling and stripped from behind when he had lax ball security. He also threw a backbreaking interception at the goal line with Detroit driving in a late comeback attempt. Stafford threw an out to Golden Tate on the play, but Stafford did not see the underneath defender. Stafford had success along the perimeter targeting Marvin Jones throughout the game. Stafford frequently targets Jones along the deep perimeter to beat cover 2, and this game was no exception. Stafford made multiple throws on the perimeter to Jones, including a red zone touchdown. Stafford's other touchdown pass was a scramble drill where Jones got lost deep behind a corner and a safety. His yardage in the second half was largely in comeback mode as he frequently targeted Kerryon Johnson in the role normally filled by the injured Theo Riddick. Stafford will face the Vikings next week on the road.
2018 Week 9 vs MIN (25 / 36 / 199 / 0 / 0 pass, 5 / 6 / 0 rush)
Matthew Stafford was under relentless pressure against Minnesota and sacked 10 times. The pressure made it difficult for the offense to establish rhythm and sacks stopped two red zone drives. Stafford had little ability to consistently move the offense and when the offense did move, sacks put a halt to the progress. Stafford did manage to scramble for two conversions but made an uncharacteristically bad decision that resulted in Minnesota returning a fumble for a touchdown. Stafford was under pressure and scrambling when he tried to flip the ball to Kerryon Johnson behind him. The ball hit the ground and Minnesota returned it for a touchdown that put that game out of reach. Stafford had opportunities for scores, including a red zone throw to Kerryon Johnson in tight coverage that Johnson could not come down with. Stafford also missed Kenny Golladay on the boundary when he was scrambling for what could have been a long gain. Stafford has another tough matchup next week at Chicago.
2018 Week 10 vs CHI (25 / 42 / 274 / 2 / 2 pass, 2 / 9 / 0 rush)
Stafford struggled against Chicago after Detroit got behind early. He was sacked twice on the first drive and a total of six times, the second consecutive game he faced heavy pressure. Stafford was unable to connect on vertical throws, but managed chunk plays on out routes to Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones. Stafford threw two interceptions on the game. The first was an out where Marvin Jones fell down and the second was a prayer down the field on fourth down. Stafford buoyed his fantasy day with an easy touchdown on an out to Kenny Golladay and a second on a well-run screen pass to Kerryon Johnson. Stafford has struggled at times this season with touch and accuracy and missed easy throws in the flat this week. Stafford will look to rebound next week at home against Carolina.
2018 Week 11 vs CAR (23 / 37 / 220 / 1 / 0 pass, 3 / 6 / 0 rush)
Matthew Stafford had a quiet day in a win against Chicago. Without Marvin Jones, Stafford had a hard time completing deep passes early and was limited to one deep completion, a 36-yard scramble drill throw to Kenny Golladay. Stafford attempted two other deep balls to Golladay that were well covered and drew a defensive pass interference on a deep target to Bruce Ellington. Stafford's lone touchdown was a well thrown ball to Golladay for a highlight high point catch. Stafford was the beneficiary of improved offensive line play that kept Stafford clean for most of the game, surrendering only one sack, after the two previous weeks of nearly continuous pressure. If Marvin Jones or Kerryon Johnson miss time, Stafford will continue to struggle with an offense that is suddenly hurting for difference making options in the passing game. Stafford faces a tough test on Thanksgiving against the Chicago Bears.
2018 Week 12 vs CHI (28 / 38 / 236 / 0 / 2 pass, 0 / 0 / 0 rush)
Matthew Stafford struggled to stretch the field against Chicago while missing Marvin Jones and still adjusting to losing Golden Tate to a trade. On the positive side, Stafford benefitted from improved offensive line play that protected him from Chicago's strong pass rush and was only sacked twice. On the bad side, Stafford threw two interceptions that were both intended for Michael Roberts. The first was clearly on Stafford as he threw the ball inside Roberts on a short flat route that was an easy pick-6. The second was less clear as Roberts looked to run an out in the end zone while Stafford threw the pass as if he anticipated a corner route. Stafford also threw a pass behind Riddick on a wheel route that should have been a touchdown. Stafford's throw took Riddick out of stride and he was tackled short of the goal line setting up a LeGarrette Blount rushing touchdown. Stafford will look to rebound against the Rams next week.
2018 Week 13 vs LAR (20 / 33 / 245 / 1 / 1 pass, 1 / 2 / 0 rush)
Matthew Stafford continued to struggle in a loss to the Rams. Detroit's offense lacks continuity without Golden Tate, Marvin Jones, and Kerryon Johnson, which severely hampers Stafford's upside. Stafford has little in terms of field stretchers in the offense. The only vertical option is Kenny Golladay, who drew a defensive pass interference, but did not help Stafford by getting too close to the sideline on a back-shoulder throw where he could not get two feet down and another pass in the end zone where he could not get his feet down along the end line. The offense also struggled with interior pass rush from Aaron Donald and was out of down and distance because of sacks and penalties. Stafford had the opportunity for another touchdown in the red zone, but he was hit as he threw to Theo Riddick and the ball was too low for Riddick to handle. Stafford's lone touchdown was a trick play to Taylor Decker where the Rams did not realize Decker was an eligible receiver. Stafford has struggled with turnovers recently and Sunday was no exception. He lost a fumble on a sack from Aaron Donald and later threw an ill-advised prayer into the end zone that was easily intercepted. Stafford will look to rebound against the Arizona Cardinals.
2018 Week 14 vs ARI (15 / 23 / 101 / 0 / 0 pass, 1 / 7 / 0 rush)
Matthew Stafford struggled to create any passing threat in a win against the Arizona Cardinals. Stafford has struggled without Marvin Jones, Kerryon Johnson, and Golden Tate, and Sunday was no different. His threats are limited to short targets to Theo Riddick, Bruce Ellington, and occasional schemed up targets to Kenny Golladay. There is little vertical eliminate in the passing game, with the only deep target a tightly covered throw to Golladay which drew a pass interference. Stafford was only sacked once on interior pressure from a coverage sack. Stafford has struggled with accuracy at times this season, but his recent struggles and Sunday can be attributed to a lack of offensive weapons. Stafford will look to improve next week in a tough matchup at Buffalo.
2018 Week 15 vs BUF (22 / 29 / 208 / 1 / 0 pass, 0 / 0 / 0 rush)
Matthew Stafford continued to be plagued by a lack of weapons in the passing game against Buffalo. Stafford leaned heavily on Kenny Golladay, throwing several balls his way in tight coverage along the perimeter where Golladay was able to make plays. Outside of Golladay, there are few passing game weapons to help Stafford, especially with Bruce Ellington missing the game. Stafford did manage a red zone touchdown, a beautifully threaded pass to the back of the end zone to Andy Jones. Stafford also missed T.J. Jones up the seam and benefitted from a dropped interception across the middle of the field. Stafford could benefit from the return of Ellington and Kerryon Johnson next week against Minnesota.
2018 Week 16 vs MIN (18 / 32 / 116 / 0 / 0 pass, 0 / 0 / 0 rush)
Matthew Stafford struggled against the Minnesota Vikings before getting removed from the game late in the fourth quarter. Stafford is simply without weapons and running a terrible scheme. Stafford has no vertical threat in the offense and the lone time a receiver was open on a vertical route, was when Kenny Golladay dropped a ball along the sideline. The offense featured heavy use of LeGarrette Blount in the receiving game and a healthy dose of Theo Riddick screens on third and 10 or more. This season has been lost for Stafford since Marvin Jones was injured and Golden Tate was traded. Stafford has been nursing injuries recently, so the removal was more related to his health than poor play. Stafford's status is up in the air for next week's game at Green Bay. Either way, he can hope for a change in offensive coordinator and additional personnel in the offseason.
2018 Week 17 vs GB (20 / 32 / 266 / 2 / 0 pass, 2 / -2 / 0 rush)
Matthew Stafford had a solid end to his season in a win against the Green Bay Packers. Stafford threw for two touchdowns, both to T.J. Jones. Stafford's first throw touchdown was a good progression throw to Jones along the back of the end zone. The second was a perfectly placed highpoint fade. Stafford has suffered from a struggling supporting cast throughout much of the season and Sunday was no different with Brandon Powell and Andy Jones dropping passes in the game. Stafford will look to get healthy after struggling with injuries late in the season and hope for a revamped offense in 2019.
2017 Week 1 vs ARI (29 / 41 / 292 / 4 / 1 pass, 2 / 14 / 0 rush)
Matthew Stafford was efficient completing 29 of his 41 passes. He targeted Golden Tate 12 times primarily in the short and intermediate area of the field. Stafford moved well in the pocket and avoided pressure to extend plays, including a scramble drill in the red zone to Marvin Jones Jr. for a touchdown. Stafford also threw a touchdown to Kenny Golladay for a corner route in the red zone that was well placed and capitalized on Golladay's size. Stafford was content early in the game to work the short and intermediate area of the field. Stafford showed comfort with Theo Riddick repeatedly on third downs and targeted him on an option route in the red zone that Riddick ran for a touchdown after the catch. Stafford's deep ball was rare, but he made it count. With Detroit up 21 to 17 with less than five minutes to go in the fourth quarter, Stafford hit WR Kenny Golladay on a go route for a touchdown. Arizona had packed the box with eight defenders, leaving Golladay with single coverage on the play. Stafford led Golladay a little too far, forcing Golladay to dive and catch the ball and then slide into the endzone. Stafford had an interception on his first throw of the game which Justin Bethel returned for a touchdown. The throw was to Tate on a shallow cross where Tate got bumped running through a zone. Stafford tried to anticipate his route and throw Tate open, but Tate did not make the spot because of the contact, and Bethel stepped in for an easy interception.
2017 Week 2 vs NYG (15 / 21 / 122 / 2 / 0 pass, 3 / 23 / 0 rush)
Matthew Stafford was in command of Detroit's offense in a game where Detroit had positive game script and ran the ball 32 times to only 21 throws. Stafford was efficient throwing two touchdown passes and completing 15 of his 21 attempts, despite only managed 122 yards on the game. Stafford's first touchdown was a go route to Marvin Jones against CB Eli Apple. Stafford read the single coverage on Jones, and threw the ball at the back of Apple's helmet. The throw allowed Jones to break back inside on the ball for the catch in the end zone. The throw showed great trust in Jones to make a play in coverage, and Jones rewarded Stafford on the catch. The second touchdown was in the red zone to Eric Ebron on a crossing route, where Stafford stepped away from pressure in the pocket to allow Ebron to break open on his route. Stafford hit Ebron with nice touch in the end zone for the touchdown. Stafford showed solid command of the game and on multiple occasions bought time with his feet on throws, while also picking up 23 yards on the ground on three carries, including a 13-yard run on 3rd and 9 to convert a first down. Stafford also showed great awareness, running a hurry up play when the Giants had 12 men on the field. Outside of the touchdown to Marvin Jones, there was little separation down the field, as the Giants spent most of the game with coverage deep while rushing only their down linemen. Stafford was sacked three times in the game, including one by Jason Pierre-Paul on a bull rush against RT Rick Wagner. Pierre-Paul stripped Stafford on the play as he attempted to throw, and the Giants recovered. Stafford appeared to be poked in the eye on the play, but returned the next series, without any apparent limitations.
2017 Week 3 vs ATL (25 / 45 / 264 / 1 / 0 pass, 2 / 19 / 0 rush)
Matthew Stafford showed good command on a day where he threw 45 times. Stafford was comfortable in the pocket throughout the game and displayed several well-placed touch passes. He also managed to use his feet to buy time, including a scramble drill throw to T.J. Jones for a first down in the two-minute drill at the end of the game. Stafford's one touchdown was to Golden Tate. Tate ran a drag route underneath zone coverage and beat a linebacker into the end zone for the touchdown. Stafford could have had a bigger day as he led Detroit from their own 11-yard line to Atlanta's one-yard line in a late comeback attempt. Stafford had big plays of 14 and 29 yards to T.J. Jones, and 15 yards to Golden Tate on the drive. A defensive pass interference in the end zone against CB Desmond Trufant set Detroit up on the one-yard line with 19 seconds remaining in the game. Stafford threw two incomplete passes to Theo Riddick and Kenny Golladay before throwing a slant to Golden Tate on third down for what was initially ruled a touchdown. On review, Tate was rule down just before the goal line. Detroit was without any timeouts, and a ten second runoff was enforced which ended the game. Overall, the Detroit passing offense remained focused on getting the ball to Golden Tate and Theo Riddick underneath, while targeting Marvin Jones and Kenny Golladay deeper down the field.
2017 Week 4 vs MIN (19 / 31 / 209 / 0 / 0 pass, 3 / -3 / 0 rush)
Matthew Stafford struggled against Minnesota's defense in a game where he was sacked six times. Stafford was under pressure most of the game, and his accuracy suffered. He struggled with ball placement throwing multiple balls behind receivers, which hurt the ability of his receivers to create after the catch. He also nearly threw three interceptions, including one was bobbled by CB Mackensie Alexander. Alexander was unable to secure the catch prior to stepping out of bounds on the play. Stafford also fumbled on a play where he tried pump fake, but the ball slipped out of his hand. The ball was recovered by Detroit but resulted in a huge loss. In previous games, Stafford created with his feet when pressured, but Minnesota produced more pressure than Stafford has faced this season.
2017 Week 5 vs CAR (23 / 35 / 229 / 2 / 0 pass, 0 / 0 / 0 rush)
For the second week in a row, Matthew Stafford was under pressure throughout the game. Like last week, Stafford was sacked 6 times. Stafford also fumbled twice, losing one. The pressure Stafford faced during the game caused his accuracy to suffer, particularly on throws to the boundary. Stafford made several nice throws earlier in the season with touch, which was an area he struggled in this game. Stafford missed T.J. Jones on a throw along the right sideline between corner and safety coverage, on a throw where he tried to line it to Jones. Stafford made a similar throw to T.J. Jones in the red zone on a fade. Jones worked behind man coverage on the route, but Stafford's throw gave Jones no room to work for the ball. He likewise overthrew Golden Tate on a corner route. Stafford manufactured two late touchdown drives to salvage his fantasy day. Stafford connected with Darren Fells for two touchdowns, the first a scramble drill play where Fells worked himself open and the second an out from the slot where Fells ran after the catch for a touchdown. While Stafford was not sharp, he was not helped by his supporting cast. Stafford showed little trust in Eric Ebron, which is for good reason after Ebron dropped what should have been a touchdown pass. Stafford also targeted T.J. Jones in the end zone on Detroit's first scoring drive where T.J. Jones was interfered with, which set up a goal line touchdown by Zach Zenner.
2017 Week 6 vs NO (25 / 52 / 312 / 3 / 3 pass, 2 / 4 / 0 rush)
Matthew Stafford had his worst day of the season against the Saints defense. He was sacked 5 times, lost 2 fumbles, threw 3 interceptions, and had 16 passes deflected, a majority of which were at the line of scrimmage. Detroit's screen game was disrupted by the deflections, including a pass intended for Marvin Jones that was deflected and then turned into a pick-6 by CB Marshawn Lattimore. Stafford's second interception was a throw to Theo Riddick that bounced of Riddick's hands before it was intercepted by S Kenny Vaccaro. The third interception was on a pass from Detroit's own end zone. DE Cameron Jordan deflected the ball at the line of scrimmage then caught the ball for a second pick-6. One of Stafford's fumbles was in his own end zone where he held the ball too long. The blocking was good on the play, but no receivers were open down the field. Earlier in the season, a healthy Matthew Stafford in would have scrambled on the play. However, with his ankle sprain, Stafford's mobility was limited, and he fumbled while being sacked for a score. The other fumble was on a blown blitz pick up where he was stripped in his throwing motion by LB Craig Robertson. Stafford threw three touchdowns in the game. The first was a comeback to Golden Tate who broke three tackles on the play for a 45-yard touchdown. The second was well thrown back shoulder throw to Marvin Jones, and the third was a seam route by Darren Fells. Stafford has looked more to Jones in the vertical passing game in recent weeks, and has shown a trusting rapport with Fells in the red zone. Stafford also targeted Fells in the red zone on a flat route that was stopped just short of the end zone on another attempt. Stafford took punishment in the game, and appeared in rib pain after a hit in the third quarter, but finished the game.
2017 Week 8 vs PIT (27 / 45 / 423 / 0 / 0 pass, 1 / 11 / 0 rush)
Matthew Stafford returned from Detroit's week 7 bye with noticeably better health. In week 6, Stafford was nursing an ankle injury, which confined him to the shotgun for almost the entire game. With the benefit of a week off, Stafford moved well in the pocket, scrambled and took snaps under center. Stafford threw for a season high 423 yards, while exploiting the deep perimeter of Pittsburgh's defense. Stafford targeted Marvin Jones and T.J. Jones extensively on the outside, and showed good accuracy and velocity to make difficult throws against Pittsburgh's zone coverage. When it came to scoring, Stafford broke down in the red zone. He threw off target passes to Eric Ebron, Darren Fells, T.J. Jones, and Marvin Jones on end zone targets. Not all of the scoring deficiencies were Stafford's fault. Both Fells and Marvin Jones had the opportunity to make catches in the end zone, but the target to Fells was broken up and Jones had a ball go through his hands. He also had the opportunity to rush for a touchdown on a scramble inside the two-yard line but hesitated and was tackled short of the end zone forcing a turnover on downs. Stafford benefited from the improved play of the offensive line, but did not capitalize on four trips in the red zone.
2017 Week 9 vs GB (26 / 33 / 361 / 2 / 0 pass, 1 / 0 / 0 rush)
Matthew Stafford had another outstanding performance against the Green Bay Packers. Stafford had time to throw as improved offensive line play handled Green Bay's pass rush throughout most of the game. Stafford took advantage with accurate deep passes to Marvin Jones and T.J. Jones in the deep perimeter of the field. Stafford threw an excellent pass to the back of the end zone for a 25-yard touchdown to Marvin Jones and connected again to Jones in a contested catch situation for his second touchdown. Stafford has shown good chemistry with Jones in the past two weeks, and as a result, has been able to stretch the field better than he was earlier in the season. Stafford's day could have been even better, but he was stuffed on a quarterback sneak at the goal line. Detroit also had two drives where they stalled out on 1st and goal situations from inside the two-yard line, by relying on Abdullah, Washington and Riddick to carry the ball, instead of relying on Stafford in the end zone. The Detroit offense has struggled in short yardage situations this season by relying on the running game when Stafford has been so efficient.
2017 Week 10 vs CLE (17 / 26 / 249 / 3 / 1 pass, 4 / 17 / 0 rush)
Matthew Stafford rebounded for a solid game after a poor start. On the second series, Stafford threw a bad interception when he threw the ball across the middle into traffic off his back foot with pressure in his face. The throw had little chance of success even if Jamie Collins was not standing in the line of the pass, and the throw was easily intercepted. The ball was amongst the worse throws Stafford has made this season. The interception set up a Cleveland touchdown which created a 10-0 Cleveland lead. Detroit leaned on the run game and a defensive touchdown to take a 17-10 lead while Stafford struggled to find his groove. Detroit went up tempo in the second half, which allowed Stafford to find a rhythm and throw three touchdown passes. The first was a red zone throw to Theo Riddick for an 8-yard touchdown. The second was a well thrown ball to Eric Ebron on a double move down the sideline, and the third was a screen pass to Golden Tate. Stafford threw the ball well in the game, including a pass he dropped into Golladay over a Cleveland cornerback that set up a 50-yard gain. Detroit found success relying on Stafford in the red zone after struggling in recent weeks, including his touchdown pass to Riddick. Stafford continued to show solid mobility with two runs for third down conversions, and shows no ill effects of his earlier season ankle injury.
2017 Week 11 vs CHI (21 / 31 / 299 / 2 / 0 pass, 3 / 3 / 0 rush)
In a mature and controlled performance, Matthew Stafford kept the offense on schedule and in rhythm. After linking up well with Marvin Jones on some rhythm throws to begin the game, Stafford soon made a crucial error as he lost a fumble. Stafford appeared to be pumping the football, but was contacted simultaneously and let it fly loose. The turnover seemed to inject a new sense of urgency into his play, and he soon settled down with a hurry-up offense. Stafford connected well with all of his targets, but especially Marvin Jones, who consistently ran excellent routes and gave Bears defenders fits. Stafford was a little high on a couple of passes that he tried to squeeze between zones, but in general played an accurate game. His most impressive throw came with the Lions backed up against their own goal line. With pressure in his face, Stafford threw a flat-footed pass to T.J. Jones on the right sideline to get a first down. He would follow that up with his first touchdown pass of the game to Jones. The route by Jones ñ a double move ñ left the defender in no man's land, giving Stafford a straightforward throw. His second touchdown pass came on a simple pitch and catch to Ameer Abdullah, who had escaped the attentions of the defender assigned to him in man coverage. Both passes came with the Lions set up in the high red zone. The second half saw Stafford lead the offense with patience as they matriculated the ball down the field to secure the victory.
2017 Week 12 vs MIN (20 / 35 / 250 / 2 / 1 pass, 1 / 0 / 0 rush)
Matthew Stafford struggled for much of the game against the Minnesota Vikings on Thanksgiving Day. He missed high frequently in the game, including throws at all three levels. Stafford's game was generally sloppy with the missed throws and a fumbled a hand off exchange with Ameer Abdullah that was recovered by the Vikings. Stafford appeared humbled by an ankle injury that occurred during the game, and was frequently limping on the sideline but did not miss time during the game. Stafford threw two touchdown passes to Marvin Jones, one in the red zone on an in breaking route, and the second on a deep throw to the perimeter where Jones made a contested catch in double coverage. Stafford's day could have been bigger, but Darren Fells dropped a seam target in the end zone. A second target up the seam was initially ruled a touchdown, but on review was overturned because Fells did not complete the act of the catch. Stafford also missed what would have been a walk-in touchdown pass to Theo Riddick on a screen. Detroit called a screen at the perfect time with Minnesota blitzing. Stafford faced pressure and underthrew Riddick who had clear daylight to the end zone for a touchdown. Stafford threw a late interception to Xavier Rhodes, who made a great play to deflect the ball on a 50/50 throw to Marvin Jones on the final drive of the game. Stafford struggled earlier in the season when he was hobbled by an ankle injury, so his health is a key to monitor.
2017 Week 13 vs BAL (24 / 29 / 292 / 1 / 1 pass, 3 / 2 / 0 rush)
Matthew Stafford was under pressure most of the day, but managed to turn in a decent fantasy effort with the benefit of some big yardage plays. Stafford turned the ball over twice, once on a strip sack fumble, and the other an interception. Stafford's interception was a throw on the run to his left where he never set his feet. The ball came out of his hand wobbling and high, and was amongst the worst throws he made this year. Stafford nearly lost a second fumble on a snap that he was fortunate to recover. Stafford spent most of the day under pressure, and Baltimore did a good job of tackling Golden Tate and Marvin Jones in the screen game. Stafford was more successful throwing down the field, including 42 and 46-yard passes to Marvin Jones, a 31-yard pass to Kenny Golladay on a dig route, and a high point seam stretching pass to rookie TE Michael Roberts for 23 yards. Stafford continued to show a good rapport with Jones and will take deep shots to him when he is in one on one coverage on the outside. Stafford clearly trusts Jones on deep throws, and Jones has frequently rewarded Stafford for the trust. Stafford's touchdown pass was a goal line package with back up LB Nick Bellore in at FB in a heavy package where Stafford hit Bellore in the flat for an easy touchdown. The package is notable because Detroit does not use a traditional fullback and the running game has stalled in the red zone much of the season. The Lions have turned to Stafford in the red zone in recent weeks which strengthens his touchdown upside. Stafford left the game in the second half with a hand injury he suffered on his interception after taking a hit, and was replaced by Jake Rudock.
2017 Week 14 vs TB (36 / 44 / 381 / 1 / 2 pass, 0 / 0 / 0 rush)
After spending the week questionable with a hand injury, Stafford played and started the game hot, completing his first 11 passes. He featured Eric Ebron early in the game, while throwing a lot of targets in the short passing game. The offense started in no huddle where Stafford has shown so much comfort this season, but went away from it later in the game. Stafford threw two first half interceptions, both along the boundary. The first was a go route along the perimeter where Stafford typically goes to beat Cover 2. Stafford targeted Golladay on the play, but Brent Grimes sagged underneath the route and jumped to intercept the ball. Stafford usually throws the ball with zip on that type of route, but his throw did not have the normal trajectory Stafford throws it with, which may be attributable to the hand injury. The play was a good play by Grimes who made a good read and execution on the play. The second was an out route to Golden Tate where Robert McClain dropped out of cover 2 underneath Tate's route for an easy interception. Stafford threw a touchdown to Golden Tate on a quick curl route where Tate sat beneath the Tampa Bay defense. Stafford had one deep completion, a 38-yard post to Marvin Jones while the rest of the day the offense was confined to the underneath. The stat sheet shows chunk plays, but they were largely the result of Ebron, Riddick and Tate making plays after the catch.
2017 Week 15 vs CHI (25 / 33 / 237 / 2 / 0 pass, 1 / -1 / 0 rush)
Matthew Stafford had an up and down day against the Chicago Bears. Stafford missed big throws including a red zone throw to Eric Ebron that would have been a touchdown and deep post to Kenny Golladay. Stafford did make other solid throws in the game, including a throw to the boundary from a muddled pocket on a comeback route to Kenny Golladay for 13 yards. Stafford threw with better velocity this week than last week, but struggled with deep accuracy. Stafford's big play of the day was a deep throw to Marvin Jones where Jones caught the ball in a contested jump ball situation. Stafford had one touchdown on the day, a well-thrown ball up the seam to Ebron in the red zone. Stafford has shown a good relationship with Ebron and Jones in recent weeks.
2017 Week 16 vs CIN (19 / 35 / 203 / 1 / 1 pass, 1 / 7 / 0 rush)
Matthew Stafford struggled in a crucial game against Cincinnati. Stafford was erratic throwing, missing targets to Golden Tate and Eric Ebron in the middle of the field, and threw a bad interception in the middle of the field. His interception occurred when he was hit while throwing but there was no receiver near the defender on the play. Stafford was limited in the vertical passing game, with his lone success coming on a perimeter throw to Marvin Jones. Despite some erratic throws, the day should have been better for Stafford. Marvin Jones drew a defensive pass interference on a deep target and Kenny Golladay could not make a catch in contested coverage on a well throw ball. Stafford was also hurt by what appeared to be a bad call on a deep throw to Golden Tate. Tate made what appeared to be a catch in contested coverage but the ball was forced out of his hands when he was on the ground. The officials ruled an incomplete pass and Detroit missed what looked like a good opportunity to challenge the call. Stafford also continued a long trend of bogging down in the red zone, hurt by receivers were unable to create separation in the game. Stafford appeared hobbled when forced to scramble and appeared to be in back pain after a hit, but did not miss any time during the game.
2017 Week 17 vs GB (20 / 29 / 323 / 3 / 0 pass, 2 / 2 / 0 rush)
Stafford played well in the season finale against Green Bay. He was accurate and aggressive, hitting long targets to Marvin Jones and Kenny Golladay for 50+ yards. The throw to Marvin Jones was a deep post that beat his corner while getting behind the safety. He later hit Golladay for a 54-yard touchdown pass also on a post. An unappreciated story in Detroit has been the rapport Stafford has shown with Jones in the deep passing game. Stafford also threw a fade to Jones for a red zone touchdown. Stafford's long play of the day was a throw to Golden Tate on a double move. Tate set the move up inside before getting back toward the corner. The route combination cleared the entire perimeter of the field up for a 71 yard catch that he finished off with a stiff arm for a score. Stafford also managed to catch a two-point conversion trick play from Golden Tate. Stafford's play fluctuated at times this season, but he managed to support both Jones and Tate in top 15 WR seasons in PPR.
2016 Week 1 vs IND (31 / 39 / 340 / 3 / 0 pass, 2 / 5 / 0 rush)
Matthew Stafford was very consistent in this contest as the game plan put him in a position to be successful. Stafford finished completing 31 passes on 39 attempts and threw for three touchdowns with no interceptions. The Lions had Stafford throwing the ball before pressure could arrive for the majority of the day, and he was 27-of-30 on passing attempts of under nine yards. The Lions have talked about tailoring an offensive scheme to Stafford's strengths and that was fully on display in this game. Expect the Lions to continue to make short throws which allows for their offensive playmakers to generate yards after the catch. Not only does this make Stafford and the offense more efficient, but it also makes it easier to protect the quarterback which has been an issue in the past. Part of Stafford's success on this day is on the coaching staff and the understanding of the staff to just get out of the way of the playmakers on offense. Stafford's first touchdown pass came on a very nice throw into a tight window to tight end Eric Ebron from six yards out. Stafford displayed accuracy and timing with this throw as he hit Ebron just as he came open dragging along the goal line. A split second later and this pass is broken up. Stafford hit running back Ameer Abdullah for his second touchdown pass of the day on a relatively easy pitch and catch. The play was a fantastic concept that allowed Abdullah to cut to the sideline and waltz into the end zone. On his third and final touchdown of the day, Stafford showed great patience in a critical time to allow the scree to set up. He took a shot to make a play, and he hit running back Theo Riddick for a 13-yard score. There were a few throws that Stafford would probably want back, specifically the long throw down the left sideline in the first half to receiver Marvin Jones. Jones did not have his man beat as Stafford threw the ball and it could easily have been an interception. Stafford was 4-of-5 on throws of 11-20 yards and 1-of-4 on throws longer than 20 yards.
2016 Week 2 vs TEN (22 / 40 / 260 / 1 / 1 pass, 2 / 31 / 0 rush)
Stafford had an up and down day, and those looking only at the box-score aren't going to understand how well he played in this game. He saw significantly more pressure in this game than he did in Week 1, and for the most part he was accurate, delivering the ball quickly into his receiver's hands and allowing them to generate yards after the catch. However, he was not in the same rhythm as he was versus Indianapolis, but neither was anyone else playing on offense for the Lions. The receivers had seven (maybe eight) drops and penalties brought back three touchdowns (two from Stafford). This was an incredibly ugly football game as penalties stunted the tempo of the offense. Stafford's touchdown came on a 24-yard throw to wide receiver Anquan Boldin. It was a dangerous throw, forced into triple coverage, but Boldin was working back to Stafford and Stafford ripped the throw across his body as he was rolling left and throwing to his right. The throw was on the money as the defenders never turned to find the ball and Boldin plucked the ball to score six. From an accuracy perspective, Stafford was 14-of-18 in the first half. He threw a one-yard touchdown pass to tight end Eric Ebron, but Ebron was flagged for offensive interference. On the very next play he fit the ball into an incredibly tight window to Boldin for a touchdown, but again, it was called back on a holding call on the offensive line. On the Lions first drive in the second half, Stafford was injured as he was hit below the left knee as he was throwing the ball. He looked injured and limped a bit over the new few sets of plays. Stafford looked to hit receiver Golden Tate deep in the second half, but they look a little out of sync right now. Stafford was a touch off with his accuracy in the second half as well, but he was still accurate enough for the offense to have made enough plays to win this game. The Lions receivers dropped at least four passes in the second half, some of them at critical times in the game. In the end, Stafford was undone via pressure he saw stunting between guard Laken Tomlinson and center Travis Swanson, throwing off his back foot right to Titans cornerback Perrish Cox who read the play perfectly to come off of his primary assignment to step into the throwing lane and pick off the pass. From an accuracy perspective, Stafford was 16-of-22 in the second half and 30-39 (with one throwaway) on the day. Stafford did show off some athleticism via a couple of quarterback runs, one going for 24 yards, with the end of the run coming on just about the worst slide ever attempted. He finished with 31 yards on two carries.
2016 Week 3 vs GB (28 / 41 / 385 / 3 / 1 pass, 2 / 11 / 0 rush)
Stafford had a very good day on the road in a hostile environment at Lambeau Field, but he was helped by the game script that forced him to throw and score just to keep pace with the high flying Packers offense. The Packers took the opening kickoff and easily carved up the Lions defense to score a quick seven points. Stafford drove the Lions into Packers territory hitting his receivers in stride and taking what the defense was giving him in in the middle of the field. However, on third down and needing 16 yards for a first down, the Packers applied pressure and flushed Stafford and he threw the ball away, taking the points instead of forcing the ball into a bad spot. The Lions were down 14-3 the next time Stafford got the ball and the Lions went three-and-out. It was a bad possession as they had a batted ball and pressure on third down forced another punt. The next time the Lions got the ball the score was 21-3 and the rout was on. However, Stafford stayed calm and made a great back-shoulder throw down the right sideline for 37 yards to wide receiver Marvin Jones. The Lions were driving and Stafford hit tight end Eric Ebron up the seam, and Packers cornerback Damarious Randall made a game changing play by ripping the ball out of Ebron's hands as he was sandwiched between two defenders going to the ground. The Packers kicked a field goal and Stafford got the ball with the Lions down three touchdowns. The Lions moved the ball down the field as Stafford hit receiver Golden Tate a few times and Ebron down the seam to get the Lions into scoring territory. He forced a throw to Jones in the end zone as Jones was open by a half-step and Stafford underthrew the ball, and the dangerous throw was knocked to the ground by Packers defensive back Ladarius Gunter. On third down, the Packers got pressure up the middle and Stafford could get his plant leg set as defenders rolled into him as he was throwing, and he threw incomplete, setting up a field goal that was missed. Now trailing by four scores with less than a minute in the first half, Stafford hit Jones down the right sideline and Jones raced 73 yards for the score. From an accuracy perspective, Stafford was 14-of-18 in the first half. Stafford came out hot in the second half and continued to push the ball down the field. He hit Jones for 23 yards down the right sideline on a nifty design which got Jones isolated on a safety down the field. He continued to hit the Packers in the middle of the field and in the short throwing game. Stafford hit receiver Anquan Boldin for a two yard score to start the half. He continued to move the Lions and put points on the board, making it a game late. Stafford moved the Lions into the red zone on a 19-yard throw to Jones, but they got called for a false start on third down and Stafford was sacked on third down. The Lions settled for a field goal and cut the lead to 14. Stafford continued to push the ball down the field late in the game and hit Jones on a 35-yard touchdown to cut the lead to seven points and that's as close as the game would get. Accuracy wise, Stafford was 17-of-20 in the second half, and combined for a 31-of-38 total on the day, throwing for 385 yards and three scores.
2016 Week 4 vs CHI (23 / 36 / 213 / 0 / 2 pass, 2 / 17 / 0 rush)
The passing offense was incredibly inefficient in this contest as Stafford was only able to generate 213 yards passing on 36 attempts. While he was accurate, he just didn't challenge the deeper parts of the field as he only attempted two throws of 20+ yards, one close to being complete and another that was clearly overthrown. Stafford was forced to move off of his drop as pressure pushed him out of the pocket multiple times in this game. When he moved to his right he was still somewhat accurate but when he moved to his left he had a hard time being accurate with his throws. The passing attack looked out of sorts from the start and Stafford actually crossed the line of scrimmage by at least two yards before throwing a pass in the first quarter. The offense had zero flow and rhythm throughout the entire game, and the only way the offense moved the ball was utilizing short throws and screen passes. It was a tight game pretty much the entire way and the Lions out up only three points in the first half. Stafford drove the Lions down the field and into Bears territory late in the second quarter, but a miscommunication between Stafford and receiver Golden Tate caused an interception, taking away an opportunity to put points on the board in a very close contest. From an accuracy standpoint, Stafford was 15-of-19 on 20 throws in the first half, not counting the interception that wasn't his fault. The Lions got behind in the second half but stuck to their offensive script which called for runs that were mostly ineffective. Stafford remained accurate in the second half but the Bears defense contained the offense throughout the game, limiting them the entire day. Most of Stafford's throws were to the short and intermediate areas of the field and his biggest play was actually a screen pass that went to running back Zach Zenner for 22 yards. Stafford worked the middle of the field throughout the game, hitting slants to receiver Marvin Jones and crossing routes to receiver Anquan Boldin and tight end Eric Ebron. It stands out that Stafford didn't challenge the boundary at all in this game. The Lions got the ball trailing 17-6 midway through the fourth quarter, and Stafford put together a nice drive to push the Lions down the field, but an errant throw/miscommunication led to an interception that ultimately ended the ball game. Stafford led Ebron too far or underthrew Boldin, and it wasn't a good throw or decision as there were three defenders covering two Lions. However, it's not too difficult to see a problem in the route with Ebron and Boldin ending up so close together. That sums up the offense on this day, as they only accumulated two field goals and a two-point conversion in the game.
2016 Week 5 vs PHI (19 / 25 / 180 / 3 / 0 pass, 6 / 16 / 0 rush)
Stafford and the passing offense came out of the starting gate on fire as they had three first-half possessions and out the ball in the end zone three times. With the running game helping to put the passing game in manageable situations, Stafford gashed the Eagles taking intermediate shots and utilizing the short passing game. Stafford also tucked the ball and ran with it when he was flushed from the pocket and his runs resulted in two first downs in the first half. Stafford hit running back Theo Riddick twice in the first half for scores and then hit receiver Marvin Jones in the back of the end zone for a third score. In the first half, Stafford threw 15 passes, but one was a throwaway. He had 14 throws to be graded and was accurate on 12 of them. The second half started rough as the Eagles applied immediate pressure to Stafford and he took a sack and then dropped the football scrambling away from pressure which led to Eagles points. Everything that happened on the second half came from very short throws as the Lions offensive line wasn't holding up at the point of attack or creating any push in the running game. Stafford only completed two throws that went for more than 10 yards, one going to receiver Marvin Jones for 10 yards and the last throw of the game going to Tate for 27 yards. On the last throw, Stafford was patient and let Tate clear the trash in the middle of the field on an intermediate crosser and threw off his back foot and hit him in stride, not forcing Tate to stop his feet. Tate caught it in stride and took the ball into the red zone. Stafford threw ten passes in the second half and threw one away due to pressure. He had nine throws that were graded and was accurate on all nine of them. Overall, Stafford was 21-of-23 on the day, but the inconsistency between the first half and second half are alarming.
2016 Week 6 vs LA (23 / 31 / 270 / 4 / 0 pass, 5 / 14 / 0 rush)
Stafford and the Lions passing offense came into this game with a clear plan to do their best to get the ball out quickly because of the amount of pressure the Rams can bring from their front four. Pressure is a very big deal for Stafford as he deals with it very poorly and his success this year is because of a scheme tailored to his strengths as a player. Those strengths were on display in Week 6 as Stafford was about as accurate as possible, even if the throws he was making were not down the field and challenging the defense vertically. Stafford was particularly sharp getting the ball to his receivers without making them stop their feet which allowed them to generate lots of yardage after the catch. Stafford with receiver Golden Tate on a short tunnel-screen and he made a defender miss, taking it 34 yards into the red zone. Stafford hit receiver Marvin Jones on a back-shoulder throw for a seven-yard score. Stafford's throw displayed great accuracy and allowed only Jones to get the ball and not the defender. The Lions used the screen game to slow down the pass rush, but it was limited with running back Theo Riddick out to injury. Stafford worked the middle of the field and threw quick slants throughout the game, and also displayed great arm strength on a few throws to receiver Anquan Boldin between the linebacker and the safety. Stafford's second touchdown throw came on a bit of a broken play that saw pressure come up the middle of the offensive line. Stafford flushed to the right and threw a pass to the corner of the end zone to receiver Andre Caldwell for a two-yard score. This throw came off his back foot and was remarkably accurate, but dangerous as well. Stafford threw 16 passes in the first half but one was tipped at the line of scrimmage, one was a throwaway and one was dropped. Of the 14 throws to be graded, Stafford was accurate on 13 of them. The only inaccurate throw came on a miscommunication between Stafford and Jones in the end zone. Stafford was expecting Jones to run a slant but Jones ran a fade to the pylon. Stafford's hot play continued in the second half as he continued to exploit open areas in coverage over the middle of the field. Stafford utilized the hard-count and drew the Rams off-side, and on the free play he threw to a wide open Tate running down the left sideline. The play ended up going for 61 yards and set the Lions up first-and-goal at the Rams one-yard line. A few plays later he whistled a throw to Boldin for a four-yard score, and it was a great throw as Boldin was only open for a split-second between two defenders. Stafford's weapons dealt with a bad case of drops in the second half as Jones, Tate and newly acquired running back Justin Forsett all had drops within minutes of each other. Stafford hit Tate on a 23-yard throw on a slant route, and it was an easy pitch and catch that allowed Tate to waltz into the end zone. Stafford's only mistake of the half came on a very poor decision when he forced a throw all the way across the field rolling to his left and throwing back to the right. It could easily have been intercepted but it was an accurate throw, arriving late and getting broken up by a Rams defender. With the game tied at 28, Stafford worked the Lions deep into Rams territory hitting Boldin in the middle of the field and Tate on quick hitting plays. Stafford threw 15 passes in the second half and was accurate on all but one of them (the mental error to Jones), connecting on 14-of-15 throws. Overall, Stafford was 27-of-29 on the day from an accuracy perspective, throwing for four scores and zero interceptions.
2016 Week 7 vs WAS (18 / 29 / 266 / 1 / 0 pass, 2 / 32 / 0 rush)
Stafford and the Lions passing offense came into this game with a matchup problem on one side (Redskins cornerback Josh Norman and Lions receiver Marvin Jones) and a matchup advantage (Redskins cornerback Bashaud Breeland) on the other. It is worth noting that the Lions were missing two critical pieces of their passing game in running back Theo Riddick and tight end Eric Ebron. Stafford and the Lions had trouble in the first half and could not put the ball into the end zone, but they moved it well at times and were plagued by a few critical drops. Wide receiver Andre Caldwell had a bad drop and Tate dropped an easy ball that would have led to a first down. His drop led to a field goal attempt that ended up way wide. One of Stafford's two biggest plays of the first half came on a strange play. Stafford threw an inaccurate ball and it hit the back of Breeland and bounced straight in the air, and Tate caught it and took it for 16 yards. Stafford's biggest play of the half came on a tunnel screen to Tate, and it went for 27 yards, all coming after the catch. In the first half, Stafford was 9-of-12 of throws that were graded, with one ball being batted down at the line of scrimmage. Stafford used his legs early in the second half, avoiding pressure and gaining 18 yards and a first down. Early in the second half, he also took a shot deep down the field to receiver Marvin Jones who had a step on Norman, and Stafford placed the throw about as perfectly as a quarterback can with Jones extending to make the catch even while drawing an interference penalty on Norman. Norman was hurt on the 52-yard play, and missed the rest of the game and that opened up things for the Lions offense. Stafford immediately threw at Jones twice in the red zone, completing one for 11 yards down to the one-yard line and he targeted Jones on the next play as well. The two weren't on the same page as Jones ran a fade into the corner and Stafford threw a slant route. The miscommunication led to an incompletion and eventually a one-yard touchdown for running back Zach Zenner. The Lions took more shots down the field with Norman out, but continued to utilize the short passing game as well. Stafford hit Tate with a shovel pass that went for 22 yards and then hit Boldin for a nine-yard toss that moved the chains and set the Lions up in the red zone. Stafford clearly was hot as he hit Tate with a throw in the back corner of the end zone that may have been a score, but it was negated by a holding call. With the Lions backed up and on third-and-long, Stafford forced an inaccurate throw to Tate, and it was a bad decision as Tate wasn't open or is a great position to catch the pass. On the next drive, Stafford hit Jones for seven yards and a first down and on the next play he attacked the defense vertically as Tate beat his man at the line of scrimmage and streaked down the left sideline. Stafford dropped the pass perfectly and it was a fantastic throw, but safety Will Blackmon made an outstanding play breaking up the pass which would have been a huge play. With less than two minutes in the game and trailing by four points, Stafford and the Lions got possession of the ball at their own 25-yard line. Rolling to his left, Stafford threw from a sidearm angle to his right and hit Jones on a deep crossing route that went for 23 yards. This throw was unbelievable and set up the Lions on their last possession. On the next play, Stafford was pressured and took off for a 14-yard gain which helped push the Lions down the field. On the third play of the drive, Stafford threw an inaccurate ball but was helped out by a great catch from receiver Andre Caldwell. The play went for 20 yards and the Lions were now in the red zone at the Washington 18-yard line. On first down, Stafford hit Tate with a perfectly placed ball that might have been a touchdown, but Redskins cornerback Greg Toler made a perfect play with his body and prevented Tate from getting his feet in bounds in the end zone. On a third-down play and needing 10 yards, Stafford hit receiver Anquan Boldin with a bullet and an 18-yard score to put the Lions up 20-17. Boldin ran a stop-and-go route, finding the soft spot of the Redskins zone defense and Stafford fit the ball into a tiny window over the linebacker and in front of the cornerback. It was a perfect throw that showed the arm strength, accuracy and confidence that Stafford is playing with right now. Stafford was 12-of-16 from an accuracy perspective in the second half and 21-of-28 on the day overall.
2016 Week 8 vs HOU (27 / 41 / 240 / 1 / 0 pass, 0 / 0 / 0 rush)
Stafford and the Lions passing offense faced a very stout passing defense in Week 8 on the road in Houston. The offense looked stagnant and out of sorts throughout the game and with the exception of one throw, the Lions did not challenge the Texans down the field at all Sunday. The Lions game plan was to get the ball out quickly because of the pressure the Texans can bring and to allow their playmakers to make defenders miss and generate yards after the catch. However, the Texans smothered the Lions short passing attack and stunted plays at or near the line of scrimmage before they could realistically get started. The Texans defensive backs did a phenomenal job of tackling and in coverage in this game and it led to the Lions really struggling to move the ball consistently. The Lions scored one field goal in the first two quarters and that came late in the first half. Stafford got the ball out quickly for the most part, but the Lions looked out of sorts and had multiple drops in the first half (3 or 4) that stunted the offense. When the Texans applied pressure, it forced Stafford out of the pocket and he couldn't hook up with his receivers and throws were coming up short. The biggest plays of the first half all came near the end and all went to tight end Eric Ebron. Stafford hit Ebron on a really nice throw up the numbers that went for 34 yards. He then went right back to Ebron twice in a row, completing both passes to set up the field goal. From an accuracy perspective, Stafford was 20-of-23 in the first half, but as accurate as he was, the Lions were only able to put three points on the board. It was more of the same to start the second half as there was what I would consider a drop by Marvin Jones to start the third quarter and a miscommunication between Stafford and Jones on the second throw of the half. Stafford continued to target his running backs out of the backfield to help move the ball as running back Theo Riddick caught back to back passes for 19 yards and then 10 yards. Trailing 17-3, the Lions moved the ball into the red zone and eventually tight end Eric Ebron drew a pass interference call in the end zone which gave the Lions the ball at the one-yard line. Stafford hit Riddick on a touchdown pass right away to close within seven points. The score came on a nicely designed play, and a play that most defenses will have a hard time covering with Riddick and Boldin working in combination to get Riddick running along the goal line to the pylon. If he's got a linebacker on him on this play it is unstoppable as long as the throw is a good one, which this one was. The Lions continued to work the short throwing game utilizing screens and short out routes, but they put themselves in bad down and distances, setting up another field goal from kicker Matt Prater to make it a one-score game late. Stafford was accurate on 14-of-18 throws in the second half and was 34-of-41 total on the day.
2016 Week 9 vs MIN (23 / 36 / 219 / 2 / 1 pass, 0 / 0 / 0 rush)
Stafford and the Lions passing offense faced another strong passing defense in Week 9 on the road in Minnesota. The Lions have deployed a smart scheme to prevent Stafford from seeing much pressure and they are asking him to get rid of the ball quickly to avoid feeling pressure and turning the ball over. This scheme calls for short throws and that is exactly what they did on Sunday as Stafford saw some pressure but was only sacked one time. Stafford did have an interception and that came on pressure as he was flushed to his right and he and fullback Michael Burton were not in sync, and Stafford threw the ball to linebacker Chad Greenway. Stafford gets the knock here as he threw the ball and he has to own that, but he was expecting Burton to be where Greenway was, and Burton broke inside as Stafford started his throw. Stafford and the Lions used the short passing game to control the clock late in the first half as they carried out a drive that lasted almost 10 minutes. Stafford threw a slew of screen passes and hit tight end Eric Ebron for chunks of yardage in the first half, and he finished the half with a one-yard score to wide receiver Anquan Boldin. Boldin used his big body and physicality to get separation and Stafford hit him for the score. From an accuracy perspective, Stafford was 16-of-17 in the first half. The Lions came out in the second half and on the first play Stafford hit receiver Golden Tate on a bubble screen but cornerback Terrance Newman made a great play and split blockers to drop Tate for a loss. Stafford then took a shot deep down the field to receiver Marvin Jones, challenging the defense vertically for the first time in the game. It was a perfect throw, but Vikings cornerback Trae Waynes held Jones' left arm as he reached for the ball and it fell to the ground incomplete. This started a string of six straight incompletions for Stafford. The Lions struggled in the second half and the Vikings took a 16-13 lead with 23 seconds left in the game. On first down, Stafford was flushed out of the pocket and hit Tate on the left sideline for eight yards with 17 seconds on the clock. Stafford then hit receiver Andre Roberts with one of the better throws you'll ever see for 27 yards. Stafford had to rip the throw in to Roberts and he needed to put it in the perfect spot to get him to the ground so the Lions could run to the line of scrimmage to spike the ball to set up a to set up a 58-yard field goal attempt to tie the game. Stafford looked sharp in the overtime as he converted three third-down throws to keep the drive going. He hit Ebron in stride for a 23-yard gain and then he hit Tate on an out route for 12 yards to get the Lions into Minnesota territory. Stafford ended the game fitting the ball to Tate between cornerback Xavier Rhodes and safety Harrison Smith on a third down play. Tate managed to keep his balance and shrug off Rhodes while staying in bounds and got into the end zone to win the game. Stafford threw 19 times in the second half but one was a throwaway and one was a spike. From an accuracy perspective, Stafford was accurate on 13 of the 17 throws that could be graded. Overall, he was 29-of-34 on the day.
2016 Week 11 vs JAX (24 / 33 / 278 / 0 / 0 pass, 2 / 0 / 0 rush)
Stafford and the Lions passing offense faced a very strong passing defense in Week 11 at home against Jacksonville. We've seen the Lions employ a scheme that asks for Stafford to get rid of the ball quickly before pressure can arrive and when the ball arrives, the Lions skill position players can make the first man miss to generate lots of yards after the catch. The Lions did this exact same thing against the Jaguars on Sunday, but the Jaguars defense proved to be very tough to beat and they severely limited the Lions ability to move the ball consistently. Stafford struggled in the first half and pressure caused him to leave the pocket or throw away the ball. He barely missed on a few throws as he led his man a touch too far, but overall he was accurate but the Jaguars just limited everything the Lions tried to do until the last drive if the first half when the Lions went into their two-minute offense. This allowed Stafford to hit running back Theo Riddick for chunks of yardage out of the backfield and opened up the intermediate area of the field for wide receivers Golden Tate and Marvin Jones. The drive ended in a field goal as Stafford was forced to run on third down in the red zone but was tackled short of the first-down marker. Accuracy wise, Stafford was 13-of-17 on throws that were graded in the first half as the offense accounted for only three points. The second half was much like the first half with the exception that the Lions hit two huge passing plays to help them on offense. Stafford hit receiver Andre Roberts for a 44-yard gain on a bullet of a pass into a tight window, but Tate fumbled in the next play to end the drive. Early in the fourth quarter, Stafford was flushed from the pocket and rolled to his left. The Jaguars coverage got mixed up and Ebron ran open behind his man and Stafford hit him for a 61-yard gain down run and catch down the left sideline down to the Jaguars eight-yard line. The most impressive drive of the game came from the Lions starting in the middle of the fourth quarter. With 8:19 left in the game, Stafford and the offense came onto the field starting the drive from their own 15-yard line. Stafford threw seven passes during that drive and all were accurate and complete, and the drive took 7:57 off of the clock and out another three points on the board. Accuracy wise, Stafford was 12-of-13 on throws that were graded in the second half. Interestingly, Stafford threw for 8.4 yards per attempt but if we take away the 61-yard pass to Ebron and the 44-yard pass to Roberts, that number drops to 5.6 yards per attempt which is a testament to what the Jaguars defense did to the Lions passing offense on Sunday.
2016 Week 12 vs MIN (23 / 40 / 232 / 1 / 0 pass, 4 / 30 / 0 rush)
Stafford and the Lions passing offense faced a stout passing defense in Week 12 at home against the Minnesota Vikings. The Lions are wisely asking for Stafford to get rid of the ball before pressure can cause problems with decision making or losses in yardage via sacks. To that end, the Lions have personnel that fit this concept as they have weapons that can make defenders miss and generate yards after the catch. Stafford is also vacating the pocket earlier than he has in the past and making plays with his feet for positive yardage. He has four runs that went for 30 yards in the game Thursday with several being critical plays for long first downs. Stafford had a scramble of 11 yards and another for 15 yards, both getting just enough yardage to move the chains. Stafford came out hot as he hit on his first eight passes, including going 6-of-6 on the Lions first possession that ended in a two-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Anquan Boldin. Stafford had to move from the pocket and was able to hit targets from different arm angles in the first half, fitting the ball into very tight windows to keep the Lions offense moving. He was composed and threw the ball away instead of forcing it into danger and he did a nice job of taking care of the ball. The Lions ran some intermediate routes with tight end Eric Ebron clearing out space with receivers running behind that action to run into soft areas of the Vikings defense. Stafford hit receiver Golden Tate for a 41-yard gain on this type of play and made some fantastic anticipatory throws to keep the offense moving down the field. There were a few big plays that were left on the field as receiver Andre Roberts turned the wrong way on a throw down the left sideline and Stafford threw the ball to the boundary. If they were to have connected it would have been for a long completion and most likely a 50-yard touchdown. Stafford also threw a touch behind receiver Marvin Jones as he was crossing the goal line on a 3rd-and-4 from the Minnesota 11-yard line. Jones beat Vikings cornerback Trae Waynes initially, but Waynes recovered made a great play to break up the pass. Stafford threw 26 passes in the first half but there were two spikes to stop the clock, two passes that were thrown away and a Hail Mary to end the half. Accuracy wise, Stafford was 18-of-21 on throws that were graded in the first half but the offense accounted for only 10 points. Stafford and the Lions offense struggled in the second half. They only had five possessions and punted on the first three of them. Stafford was inaccurate for a short spell in the third quarter as pressure forced him from the pocket and he threw short to Boldin and then overthrew Jones on the left sideline. Stafford overthrew (really a throwaway) Roberts on the next drive deep down the field but then strung together seven accurate passes in a row in crunch time. This is everything the Lions and Stafford have been to this point in the 2016 season as they've come from behind in all seven wins they have this year. Stafford and the offense got the ball on their own two-yard line with 5:02 left in the fourth quarter trailing 13-10. The Lions moved the ball and got one first down but faced a 3rd-and 8 from their own 18-yard line. Stafford made a ridiculous throw, jumping as pressure arrived and leading Boldin perfectly for a 29-yard gain. He completed three of his last four throws but linebacker Eric Kendricks made an outstanding defensive play on a screen pass to running back Theo Riddick, dropping him for a one-yard loss out in space. The Lions settled for a 48-yard field goal that tied the game. Accuracy wise, Stafford was 10-of-14 on throws that were graded in the second half. Overall, he was 28-of-35 in the game for an adjusted-accuracy rate of 80 percent.
2016 Week 13 vs NO (30 / 42 / 341 / 2 / 0 pass, 3 / 22 / 0 rush)
Stafford and the Lions passing offense have seen good passing defenses for several weeks and this week they got a bit of an easier opponent as the Saints passing defense is not very good. Clearly, the Lions saw some things on tape and took some shots down the field and also took advantage of the double moves the receivers put on the Saints defensive backs in Week 13. The Lions have been utilizing a short passing attack as they don't want pressure getting to Stafford, but they attacked down the field a little more in this game. Stafford started the game as hot as a quarterback can get as he was accurate on 16 of his first 17 throws. He spread the ball around to all of his receivers to consistently move the ball into the red zone to get scoring chances for the Lions. If there is a knock to be made at all, it is that the Lions settled for field goals and not touchdowns in this game. Stafford did hit running back Theo Riddick on a one-yard jerk route for a score and the Lions put up 13 points in the first half. Stafford threw 23 passes in the first half, but two were throwaways (one from pressure and one because of great coverage by Kenny Vaccaro). From an accuracy standpoint, Stafford was 19-of-21 in the first half. Stafford continued to throw the ball accurately and did a good job of not putting it into dangerous areas as he threw the ball away when he needed to. He took shots down the field at opportune times and delivered the ball on time and gave his receivers a chance to make plays. He was quick to diagnose pressure and coverage and did a nice job of scrambling for positive yardage, even generating a first down on an 11-yard run when the Lions needed 10 for a first down. The biggest play of the game came in the fourth quarter as Stafford hit wide receiver Golden Tate for a 66-yards touchdown. Stafford saw Tate run behind the defender but pressure was arriving and he stayed in the pocket long enough to get the ball far enough down the field to allow Tate to run into space. This play showed his willingness to take a hit and his superior arm strength and his toughness to give up his body to make a play. Stafford continued to spread the ball around to multiple weapons and did a fantastic job in this game. The Saints really started to bring pressure as the game wore on and Stafford had to throw the ball away as pressure arrived. He threw 19 passes in the second half, but had one batted ball and one complete throwaway. Accuracy wise, Stafford was 12-of-17 on throws that were graded in the second half. Overall, he was 31-of-38 in the game for an adjusted-accuracy rate of 82 percent.
2016 Week 14 vs CHI (21 / 35 / 223 / 1 / 2 pass, 4 / 15 / 1 rush)
Stafford and the Lions passing offense came out of New Orleans in Week 13 on a high note but the Bears defense plays a tough brand of football and matches up well against the Lions. Bears head coach John Fox worked with Jim Bob Cooter in Denver and that familiarity looks to have given the Bears an understanding of what the Lions are doing on offense, and they have definitely given Stafford fits this year including in this game. Stafford came out of the gate on fire, throwing accurately on his first nine graded throws. Stafford hit on throws of 11, 13 and 14 yards before dislocating the tip of his middle finger on his throwing hand on a ball he threw away because of pressure. He spread the ball all over the field to multiple weapons and did a nice job of taking what the Bears defense was giving him. Pressure was consistently in his face and he had to move a good deal throughout the game to avoid pressure. After hurting his finger, he had accuracy issues as the ball wasn't located as well as he normally can locate it, and it also didn't have the kind of spin it normally has. This injury could be a significant blow and will certainly be a factor over the next few weeks. The Bears did a good job in coverage but they were called on some pass interference penalties as Stafford threw the ball into areas where they had to interfere or give up big plays. Stafford moved the Lions down the field at the end of the first half and hit wide receiver Anquan Boldin on a very nice throw that led him to the pylon and into the end zone for a 16-yard score. Stafford threw 23 passes in the first half, but two were throwaways and not graded. From an accuracy standpoint, Stafford was 18-of-21 in the first half. The Lions relied more heavily on the running game in the second half and it was obvious that his accuracy was waning as the game went on. Stafford continued to spread the ball around but the second half was an ugly half of offensive football for the Lions. The Lions got the benefit of several interference penalties and they took advantage of them, but they couldn't completely finish off the Bears as Stafford threw two second half interceptions. The first came in the red zone on a throw in the end zone to receiver Golden Tate. Stafford just missed and the defender was barely able to tip the ball which bounced off of Tate and into the air for the turnover. Stafford dug an even deeper hole for the Lions on his next possession. Stafford made a very poor decision, forcing a bad throw into perfect coverage as he tried to hit Boldin on a short out route. Bears cornerback Cre'Von LeBlanc was right in Boldin's hip pocket and he picked off the pass and went untouched for 24 yards and a score to put the Bears up 17-13 at the mid-point of the fourth quarter. Stafford was unfazed, and took the next possession at his own 24-yards line and put the Lions in the end zone in just under four minutes to take a 20-17 lead. Stafford was accurate on three of his four throws on that last drive but the Lions also benefitted from a facemask penalty that added 15 yards to a run and a pass interference call on defensive back Bryce Callahan that game the Lions first-and-goal from the Bears seven-yard line. Stafford took a shotgun snap on second down and sensed pressure and climbed the pocket but no receiver was open and he took off with the ball. Lions tight end Eric Ebron was standing in the middle of the field at the goal line and he actually did a good job of being in the way to help create room for Stafford. Stafford showed a little wiggle at the goal line and went in for the decisive touchdown. He has shown a great ability to make big plays with his feet this year, and this was another huge play he's made with his feet in 2016. Accuracy wise, Stafford was 7-of-10 on throws that were graded in the second half. Overall, he was 25-of-30 in the game for an adjusted-accuracy rate of 83.3 percent.
2016 Week 15 vs NYG (24 / 39 / 273 / 0 / 1 pass, 2 / 13 / 0 rush)
Stafford and the Lions passing offense came into this game with a very tough test on their hands. Stafford is playing with the tip of his middle finger on his throwing hand dislocated, and the game was played outside in poor weather and somewhat sloppy conditions. The weather didn't appear to faze Stafford early as he was accurate in the first half and put the Lions into good situations to score points, but the Giants defense made a few very timely plays to keep the Lions out of the end zone. Stafford saw Tate put a double-move on Giants cornerback Eli Apple and run into open space near to goal line, and he delivered an almost perfect strike but Apple recovered and barely got a finger on the ball to break up a sure touchdown. Later in the first half, Stafford hit Tate on a 67-yard pass when he ran past a Giants defender and Tate took the ball down to the Giants 11-yard line. The Lions fumbled the very next play and those missed opportunities ultimately cost the Lions in a very big way in this game. Stafford mostly targeted Tate and Ebron along with the running backs in the first half and was 11-of-11 on throws that were graded in the first half. The Lions threw the ball a lot more in the second half as the running game couldn't get any traction. Stafford spread the ball to all of his weapons and got receivers Marvin Jones and Anquan Boldin involved. The Giants harassed Stafford throughout the second half with pressure and Stafford was forced out of the pocket fairly regularly and that led to a few inaccurate throws and balls that Stafford simply threw away. Early in the second half, Stafford hit Jones on a beautiful 21-yard pitch and catch where he led him perfectly allowing Jones to make a fantastic diving grab. The Giants put a blanket on anything going down the field until the Lions last drive as Stafford had to settle for short gains and they had to convert multiple third downs needing short yardage. Things opened up for the offense after the Giants went up 17-6 in the fourth quarter and Stafford led the Lions deep into Giants territory with strikes to receiver Golden Tate for 12 and 24 yards and one to Jones for 14 yards. That drive ended when Stafford forced a third down throw into the end zone where Giants defender Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie brought the ball down for the interception. Accuracy wise, Stafford was 18-of-23 on throws that were graded in the second half. Overall, he was 29-of-34 in the game for an adjusted-accuracy rate of 85.3 percent.
2016 Week 16 vs DAL (26 / 46 / 260 / 0 / 1 pass, 1 / 1 / 1 rush)
Stafford and the Lions passing offense came out of the gate strong and were bolstered by a surprisingly strong rushing attack that kept the Cowboys defense off balance. However, it was a tale of two halves for Stafford and the passing offense as Stafford was able to pick apart the Cowboys for about 1-1/2 quarters. At that point the Lions abandoned the running game and things devolved from there. Stafford came out and was accurate early in the game as he was accurate on nine of his first 10 throws with the sole inaccurate pass being a relative throwaway. He hit mostly short throws that generated yards after the catch but was effective in getting the Lions into the end zone three times in the first half. Stafford's best throw in the first half came on a back shoulder to wide receiver Marvin Jones in the red zone that went out at the one-yard line. This pass went for 16 yards and helped to set up Stafford's one-yard plunge that tied the game at 14. Stafford used his mobility to climb the ladder and escape the pocket right and left and this allowed him to hit open receivers working back to him to create positive gains. Stafford threw 21 passes in the first half but two were thrown away so only 19 passes ended up as being graded. He was accurate on 15-on-19 throws in the first half. The second half saw the Lions abandon the running game which allowed the Cowboys pass rushers to pin their ears back and generate pressure on Stafford an a pretty consistent basis. Stafford was hit a lot in the second half and he became far too aggressive as the game wore on and as the Lions fell behind. He still distributed the ball to all parts of the field and did an admirable job playing through the physical pressure he was under. He went to tight end Eric Ebron a lot in the second half (7 targets) but was hurried consistently and he made very bad choices with the ball at times. While rolling left to avoid pressure, he threw a laser to receiver T.J. Jones but he was completely covered and Cowboys cornerback Brandon Carr knocked the ball into the air and safety J.J. Wilcox came down with the interception. The Lions receivers didn't help Stafford as multiple balls were dropped that could/should have been caught. In summary, the Cowboys defense created pressure which put Stafford into the weakness of his game as he doesn't deal with pressure well at all. Also, the Cowboys scheme confused Stafford as they brought blitzers to the line of scrimmage which forced Stafford to read the alignment a specific way pre-snap. The Cowboys would back out players post-snap and bring blitzers from different spots which caused problems in the spacing/timing of the offense and it wreaked havoc on the passing attack. Accuracy wise, Stafford was 18-of-24 on throws that were graded in the second half. Overall, he was 33-of-43 in the game for an adjusted-accuracy rate of 76.7 percent.
2016 Week 17 vs GB (26 / 41 / 347 / 2 / 1 pass, 0 / 0 / 0 rush)
Stafford and the Lions passing offense came into this game looking to feast on a vulnerable pass defense. Stafford started slowly as he missed on his first three throws with one being a big factor in the outcome. Stafford had receiver Golden Tate streaking down the right sideline but overthrew him by just a touch, but Tate couldn't find the ball early enough and a potential long score fell to the ground. Stafford continues to show his toughness by hanging in the pocket and taking hits to make plays. Something that has stood out over the past three games is that he's sailing passes at times and it stems from his finger injury. He is a touch off and that makes the difference in completing throws into tight windows or throwing them without accuracy. He made a few great throws in the game, one to T.J. Jones down the right sideline for 35 on a third down. This was a perfectly placed throw in between the corner and the safety. He also hit receiver Anquan Boldin in the red zone in the seam, placing the ball between three defenders. Stafford hit Tate on a three-yard score in the first half and led the Lions to a 14-10 halftime lead. The Packers baited Stafford into throwing the ball on a slant route to receiver Marvin Jones but Stafford didn't see linebacker Clay Matthews back out from the line of scrimmage and the ball hit Matthews in both hands. It was a perfectly designed play from the defense and Matthews could have easily scored on the play. Stafford threw 22 passes in the first half but one was thrown away so only 21 passes ended up as being graded. He was accurate on 17-of-21 throws in the first half. The second half saw the Lions abandon the running game which was dictated by the Packers taking a lead and the Lions inability to move the ball in the third quarter. The Lions had the ball twice in the third quarter and got nothing done and the Packers scored to start the second half and again to start the fourth quarter. The Lions now trailed 23-14 and were forced to try to catch up which forced Stafford to push the ball down the field. Stafford made some beautiful throws in the second half. He hit Jones on a 30-yard bucket throw up the right sideline. He spread the ball all over the field but the Packers defenders made some great plays to break up passes when when the ball was thrown accurately. There were a few throws that he would want back and he did make a poor decision forcing a throw into double coverage to Jones in the red zone. Stafford threw his only interception of the game late in the contest as he targeted Tate near the pylon down the left sideline. Safety Mycah Hyde was in coverage and was holding/interfering with Tate and he made a great play to intercept the pass in the end zone, effectively ending the game. Stafford did connect with receiver Anquan Boldin on a 35-yard Hail Mary as time was wearing down. Accuracy wise, Stafford was 12-of-17 on throws that were graded in the second half. Overall, he was 29-of-38 in the game for an adjusted-accuracy rate of 76.3 percent.
2016 Week 18 vs SEA (18 / 32 / 205 / 0 / 0 pass, 3 / 15 / 0 rush)
Stafford and the Lions passing offense went up against a very good defensive line on Saturday as the Seahawks were expected to pressure Stafford on a regular basis. The offensive line did a solid job but the Lions skill players failed at a big moment and dropped passes were a very big factor in the outcome. The offense came out and moved the ball but drops by receiver Golden Tate and tight end Eric Ebron stunted the first two drives and forced the Lions to punt. Stafford had a very good first half and did a good job of getting the ball out on time and putting it in good spots for his receivers. He only made two poor throws in the first half, missing Ebron in the middle of the field early and missing receiver Marvin Jones on an out route at end of the half. He made a few spectacular throws, but the throw he made to receiver Marvin Jones was as pretty a throw as you'll see in the NFL. Stafford delivered a perfectly placed bucket throw, leading Jones and dropping the ball right into his arms as Jones tapped both feet in bounds. He was efficient and accurate in the first half, but the Lions couldn't put anything together were never in the red zone in the first half. Stafford threw 17 passes in the first half but one was thrown away and one was tipped at the line of scrimmage, so only 15 passes ended up as being graded. He was accurate on 13-of-15 throws in the first half. The second half saw the Lions abandon the running game again as they only ran the ball five times (one coming from Stafford) and it made them on dimensional and much easier to defend. Stafford also forced the ball a little deeper down the field which hurts his overall accuracy, especially when he is under pressure. He was accurate to start the second half but missed on five of seven throws in the middle of the second half. On three of the incomplete throws, he just missed and was a touch off. These misses could have turned into big plays but the Lions just couldn't get the job done. The Lions trailed late in the game and Stafford was seeing more pressure in his face as he delivered the ball. Stafford hit Jones on slant routes into the middle of the field, one going for 19 yards and the other going for 23. Stafford was accurate on nine of the 15 throws that were graded in the second half. Overall, he was 22-of-30 in the game for an adjusted-accuracy rate of 73.3 percent.
2015 Week 1 vs SD (19 / 30 / 246 / 2 / 2 pass, 1 / -1 / 0 rush)
The first week of regular season action for Matthew Stafford did not go smoothly. The San Diego Chargers front seven applied regular pressure while the secondary nullified any deep action to Detroit's top two receivers. Throughout the game, Stafford successfully utilized his running backs and tight ends in the short-to-intermediate passing game, and lightly peppered in the occasional target to Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate. San Diego took advantage of Stafford and rattled him early. On 3rd and four, Stafford's blind-side tackle blocked down to assist perceived pressure coming from the interior. An linebacker on the shoulder of the tackle was missed and Stafford took a sack. Shorty thereafter San Diego brought outside pressure from both sides of the line, collapsing the pocket and hitting Stafford as he threw for an incomplete pass. A game changing play on Stafford occurred in the first half as San Diego sent a linebacker next to Detroit's Trips formation on the right. The defender was unimpeded, leaving Stafford no time to react. Stafford took a big hit, sending the ball vertical to be caught at the line of scrimmage by a defender for an interception. In the second half Stafford was again pressure outside of the pocket. He rolled right and threw the ball on the move wildly under-throwing receiver Golden Tate for his second interception. He later missed Tate again by a margin, which appeared to be a miscommunication between the two. While he did find the end zone twice, Stafford was out of sync with the receivers and out of his comfort zone much of the day. Much of his stat line was assisted by yards after the catch from the short routes.
2015 Week 2 vs MIN (32 / 53 / 286 / 2 / 1 pass, 4 / 20 / 0 rush)
While Matthew Stafford cut down on his interceptions and increased his passing yardage in week two, he also threw nearly twice as many passes as week one with much less accuracy. Facing a divisional foe on the road, much of the week 1 concerns bled into this Sunday's performance for Stafford. Early in the game, Stafford seemed to be experiencing residual anxiety from the previous week's pressure, as he looked uncomfortable and jittery in the pocket. While he appeared to settle down as the game wore on, his accuracy took a significant dip in the second half. Some of this could be attributed to the front line pressure he was experiencing, but many of his second half throws were questionably under or overthrown to receivers. The season-long health of Stafford has to be on the minds of the Detroit coaching staff. Stafford took a concerning hit in week one that he was nursing during the week leading up this Sunday. Against the Vikings, Stafford was roughed-up consistently and could been seen in agony after several plays. Minnesota brought relentless pressure and did well at disguising it throughout the game, causing Detroit to struggle to assess and adjust their protection. Stafford did manage to find the end zone twice during his performance ñ late in the first quarter Stafford rolled out to find Calvin Johnson in the end zone and put the ball where only Johnson could catch it. A generous helping of sideline toe-dragging by the skilled veteran benefited Stafford immensely. His second touchdown of the game came after the two minute warning in the fourth quarter when the Lions were making one last push for victory. Stafford found Eric Ebron in the middle of the field, and a shifty move to the inside followed by a dive for the end zone resulted in a 12 yard touchdown. On an earlier potential score in the second quarter Stafford did a fine job reading the defense and working through his progressions to find Tate running a crossing route on the goal line. The toss would likely have been a touchdown, but a slight tip at the line of scrimmage altered the ball's path enough to disrupt the throw and result in an incomplete pass. As for turnovers, Stafford could certainly have closed out the game with more than the one indicated on his stat line. A poorly thrown ball behind Calvin Johnson in the first quarter resulted in an interception, but was fortunately reversed due to a penalty. On several other occurrences, poor accuracy or forcing into tight coverage caused the ball to hit or bounce off of defenders that could have reeled the ball in with better timing or hands. The irony of Stafford's one interception for the day was that it was a throw that a good majority of the time just results in a batted down pass; instead, the Vikings defender blocked the ball perfectly such that he caught it on the way down. Stafford ended up being the player who tackled the ball carrier after the interception, and subsequently was rolled over and then hit in the head on the play, adding further insult to injury. Detroit did shift to a no-huddle offense at the end of the first half, and then continued it into the third quarter. This seemed to suit Stafford while it was utilized, as it coincided with him settling down in the pocket and led to a notable eleven straight completed passes. Going forward, it's something Detroit may want to consider implementing more. It's worth noting that as of Monday afternoon, there is some question about Stafford's week 3 availability due to concerns about his ribs, chest, and elbow.
2015 Week 3 vs DEN (31 / 45 / 282 / 1 / 2 pass, 1 / -1 / 0 rush)
In Detroit's first of four prime time games, Matthew Stafford had the luxury of playing at home, but the unfortunate task of facing the Denver Broncos. Following a similar theme as the first two weeks, the Broncos put significant pressure on Stafford and the offensive line. Pressured often, Stafford struggled to adjust early in the game as Denver confused the line and gave him little time to work. Sacked four times during the game, the offensive line failed to reroute protection and gave up an unimpeded sack to DeMarcus Ware that resembled the San Diego Chargers game. Fortunately, Stafford avoided the big hits that were all too common in weeks one and two. Detroit attempted to establish a ground game to ease the pressure, but their success was minimal and the defense continued to pursue. While Stafford's overall accuracy improved, two interceptions were reminders of his week two difficulties. Off target balls to Golden Tate and Calvin Johnson showcased deficits that Detroit needs to be concerned about long term. On the positive side, Stafford continued improvements by speeding up his throws and utilizing Calvin Johnson and his skillset. Once again, Stafford looked Eric Ebron's way again in critical situations and found him on at least two crucial plays. Stafford's chemistry with rookie running back Ameer Abdullah continues to grow, as the pair connected for a 16 yard touchdown reception and Abdullah was involved more in red zone and 3rd down situations. Finally, in the final two minutes of the game with Detroit down two touchdowns, Stafford failed to exploit the defense as he rushed throws, displayed erratic movement, and Detroit did little to help themselves with poor clock management.
2015 Week 4 vs SEA (24 / 35 / 203 / 0 / 0 pass, 0 / 0 / 0 rush)
Matthew Stafford and the Detroit offense struggled to find a groove early, settling for a handful of first downs and a field goal through the first half of action. Pressured consistently, Stafford managed to avoid taking any bit hits but was forced to get rid of the ball quickly to avoid defenders. The Detroit offense did find some success in the second quarter, mixing things up enough to keep the defense on-guard and taking advantage of what was working. Stafford did finally target Calvin Johnson on a couple of deeper throws later in the game, but overthrew him on one and Johnson appeared to let up on the second, seemingly catchable ball. Detroit tried unsuccessfully several times to take advantage of the pressure with screen plays and circle routes to Theo Riddick and Ameer Abdullah, but Stafford saw three of those passes batted down by very alert outside defenders. He was mostly on target throughout this game, and didn't exhibit the off-target throws he had in the first two games of the season. He excelled in the hurry-up offense, and Detroit nearly pulled ahead with time expiring, but a costly (and controversial) fumble at the one yard line ended the offensive series for Detroit. Ultimately, Stafford made good decisions, was on target, and made a great final drive against a very formidable defense.
2015 Week 5 vs ARI (20 / 32 / 188 / 1 / 3 pass, 1 / 2 / 0 rush)
Matthew Stafford was harassed and embarrassed by an aggressive Arizona Cardinal defense on Sunday. Arizona consistently succeeded in putting pressure on the offensive line, disrupting Stafford's progressions and throwing lanes. Stafford did his best to maneuver within and outside of the pocket, but the combination of pressure, great downfield coverage, and a game that quickly tilted in Arizona's favor had Stafford well outside his comfort zone. Things quickly went down the wrong path as Stafford appeared confused within the first minute of the game and used Detroit's first time out. On his very next pass he rolled outside to avoid pressure and promptly underthrew tight end Tim Wright for his first interception of the game. Stafford's next six passes were for gains of 9, 9, 18, 12, 50, and capped off with a 6 yard touchdown pass to Theo Riddick. Things seemed to be trending in the right direction for Stafford until the next series - working mostly short routes, Stafford and company achieved two first downs before Stafford carelessly threw a screen pass towards Ameer Abdullah with a defender in between. The defender easily caught the ball for Stafford's second interception of the day. Stafford made up for a lack of tackling effort last week by cutting the ball carrier at the knees near the end zone. Stafford's second interception seemingly crushed his confidence, as the rest of his action made viewers want to avert their eyes. For the remainder of the second quarter (and a small third quarter sampling), Stafford made poor decisions, stared down receivers, was overly sensitive to perceived pressure, and threw inaccurately leading up to his third interception of the day. Stafford was then replaced by quarterback Dan Orlovsky. Coach Jim Caldwell made it clear after the game that Stafford is the quarterback in Detroit.
2015 Week 6 vs CHI (27 / 42 / 405 / 4 / 1 pass, 6 / 37 / 0 rush)
Fresh off a week 5 benching, Stafford was fortunate enough to draw the Chicago defense as his rebound opponent. Chicago came into week 6 as one of the most passing friendly defenses in the NFL, and fortunately for the Detroit home fans, Stafford did not disappoint. Stafford's first quarter was dominated by four out of his five completions going for 20 yards or more. He capped off a successful drive with a 20 yard passing touchdown to Lance Moore. While he finished the first quarter with a sack for a seven yard loss, Stafford displayed a renewed vigor and confidence. A successful ground attack accompanied by deep throws from Stafford sustained the Detroit success into the second quarter when he found Calvin Johnson for a deep 43 yard reception and followed it up with a well-placed corner route to Tim Wright for a touchdown. After the second touchdown, things got a little more interesting for Stafford and company. A poorly executed pass to Abdullah in the second quarter was nearly intercepted and a controversial pass to Golden Tate was ruled a touchdown. Stafford continued to utilize the deep pass more that he has all season, and ultimately only made one big error on an awkward quick pass towards Theo Riddick in the fourth quarter that ended in an interception. Stafford exhibited accomplished accuracy and worked the pocket well. He avoided pressure and didn't force the majority of this throws. Seeking out Calvin Johnson helped his game, and he worked all areas of the field successfully. Stafford managed to come out of this overtime extended game without any big hits or injuries. He had a confident ability to drive the field and didn't shy away from targeting all of his receives and extending the field.
2015 Week 7 vs MIN (18 / 26 / 256 / 2 / 0 pass, 1 / 5 / 0 rush)
What began as a very positive game ended up a very long day for quarterback Matt Stafford behind a poorly playing offensive line, as he was constantly under pressure and was sacked seven times by the Minnesota Vikings. He also sustained a hand injury requiring X-Rays, which were negative. In the first quarter, things seemed to go Stafford and the Lions' way. He hooked up on a long 46-yard completion to Calvin Johnson and then hit Johnson again on a short pass two plays later for a 1-yard touchdown. On both passes, as well as a 5-yard completion to running back Theo Riddick, Stafford's ball-placement and accuracy were on point. The touchdown pass to Johnson was a great example of everything Stafford does right. He used Johnson's height and length by throwing the ball where only his receiver was going to catch it. Stafford also showed some good movement out of the pocket on Eric Ebron's 7-yard touchdown reception later in the first quarter. On the play, the Vikings initially did a good job of covering the receivers, giving their front line time to break the pocket. Stafford wisely swallowed a pass, pulled the ball down and fled the pocket, keeping his eyes downfield as he did. In the time he had to do that, Ebron slipped away from the coverage in the end zone and Stafford delivered the ball for a score. However, with the second quarter came more a more consistent pass rush from the Vikings. Stafford was first sacked with about ten minutes left in the first half, and then again with about six minutes left. When he wasn't getting crushed, he was still having to deal with constant pressure from the Vikings. On that second sack, by defensive end Everson Griffen, the defender wasn't even blocked and had a clear path to Stafford. Too often it seemed as if the offensive line was simply outnumbered and the result was pressure and sacks. Meanwhile the Vikings slowly caught up to the Lions and then took the lead, forcing the Lions to do more passing, which allowed the defense to just unleash blitzers on every down. By the late third quarter Stafford had been sacked four times, hit five times, hurried five times and knocked down four times (per broadcast team). This continued into the fourth quarter, until the Lions finally started to move the ball again although even then the pressure on Stafford was constant. The Lions should have had a second Stafford-Johnson touchdown as Stafford had his hand hit on a throw and the ball popped up into the air. Johnson, showing off his incredibly strong hands, leapt up and grabbed the ball away from three Vikings players. On the replay, it appeared as if he had control of the ball across the goal line, but the Lions hurried up the offense and didn't challenge the spot. That was a crucial mistake as the team failed to score at the goal line and turned the ball over on downs. They got a safety in the end zone but that still left them two scores short. If they had gotten that touchdown--or at least kicked a field goal--they might have had a shot to win the game.
2015 Week 8 vs KC (22 / 36 / 217 / 1 / 2 pass, 1 / 5 / 0 rush)
Matthew Stafford and the Lions made their way across the pond this weekend to face the Chiefs at Wembley. While Stafford was working under a new offensive coaching staff, the results were eerily similar to previous weeks. Stafford began the first quarter working short routes to Calvin Johnson, Golden Tate, and even getting Eric Ebron involved early. Things appeared to be working as planned on Detroit's first drive until the offensive line gave way to increased pressure and Stafford had difficulty adjusting. While Stafford and company were able to move the ball down to the KC 17 on their first drive, they had to settle for a field goal and gave the Chiefs a good feel for Detroit's weaknesses. Midway through the first drive KC began to apply increased pressure in the form of overloaded edge blitzes, secondary blitzes, and misdirection. After being sacked for the first time Stafford displayed inaccuracy and poor decisions with an off throw to Ameer Abdullah that was nearly intercepted and a pass to Eric Ebron that was off target. Entering the second quarter, after a short pass to Tate, Stafford underthrew Johnson on a 25 yard pass. On his next attempt Stafford threw a pass intended for Abdullah that was well in front of him and was picked off by the defense. A stern discussion ensued, as it appeared that Abdullah stopped short and failed to run his full route. Stafford's next four completions were to Johnson for 17 yards twice and Tate for 13 yards twice. The rest of the second quarter was a train wreck, as the line broke down repeatedly and Stafford was sacked three more times before the half. Stafford dink and dunked his way through the third quarter with minimal success. His best pass of the game was a well-placed ball in between defenders to Tate on a slant route for 15 yards. After that, Stafford was sacked again and started the fourth quarter with a four-man rush sack when 75% of his line completely caved. An opportunity for a deep hook-up with Johnson was missed when Stafford overthrew an open Calvin Johnson on the sideline by several yards. The two did find their connection a bit later on a 30 yard pass in which Johnson high-pointed the ball for the reception. Detroit's only touchdown of the game was deep in the fourth quarter when Stafford found Lance Moore on a 21 yard reception, much of the yardage being after the catch. Overall, Stafford was pressured more than ever in this game and was visibly bothered by it.
2015 Week 10 vs GB (24 / 38 / 242 / 2 / 1 pass, 2 / 1 / 0 rush)
Fresh off the bye, Matthew Stafford entered week 10 as healthy as he has been in weeks, and looked spry overall facing the Packers in Lambeau. Stafford started the game by finding very little success through the air. A mixed bag of tipped passes at the line, passes dropped by receivers, and significant pressure forcing off-target throws had Stafford completing only one of six passes in the first quarter. His lone completion was to Lance Moore on a comeback route for 10 yards. In the second quarter Stafford built some momentum while utilizing the playmakers of the Detroit offense. The continued attempt to build a ground game opened up a play action pass to Calvin Johnson on a slant for 13 yards. Ameer Abdullah got involved as well on a circle route for 7 yards out of the backfield. Increased pressure from the Green Bay defensive line disrupted the next few attempts from Stafford as the pocket was diminished, thus disrupting the play, and next a bad transfer from the center killed a play as Stafford was forced to fall on the ball. For the remainder of the second quarter (a good chunk in the hurry-up offense) Stafford and his receivers were animated and connected on several passes, including a screen to Joique Bell, a couple of tosses to Eric Ebron, and a 19 yard gain on a corner route to Johnson. A poorly overthrown ball to Johnson in the end zone stalled the drive in the final seconds of the first half. A 104 yard kickoff return set Detroit up with a 1st and goal situation to start the second half. After a failed run by Bell, Stafford found Brandon Pettigrew on a quick slant from the two yard line for a touchdown. Overall, the third quarter was a very successful one for Stafford. On the next series Stafford executed a beautiful play action pass on a fake to Bell to the right with a quick spin and throw to Golden Tate on the left for a 5 yard gain. Staffordís next four completions were a 15 yard pass to Moore up the middle, a 16 yard gain to Johnson on 3rd and 5, and two 13 yard gains ñ one to Theo Riddick out of the backfield and the next to Ebron on a crossing route. The rest of the third quarter is one Stafford would prefer to not repeat, as he followed up a pass tipped at the line of scrimmage for no completion with an underthrown pass intended for Moore that was intercepted by Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. From Staffordís view, the traffic appeared to conceal the defender, but the poor throw was all Stafford. The fourth quarter was much more interesting than it should have been due to two missed extra points by Matt Prater. Stafford started the quarter with a tight pass to Johnson on the sideline. Stafford nearly had another turnover on a poorly thrown ball downfield that was well off-target, but fortunately was so off-target that no defenders were in the region either. Stafford continued to find success on intermediate passes to Johnson, Bell, and Riddick, some of which were thrown out of the pocket due to the absence of one due to persistent pressure on the offensive line. The most exciting play of the game came next when Stafford found Tate 5 yards downfield on a slant, in which Tate switched direction and used his athleticism to add 38 yards of his own after the catch. Shortly thereafter, Stafford found Moore on a 4 yard pass for a touchdown.
2015 Week 11 vs OAK (22 / 35 / 282 / 0 / 0 pass, 6 / 31 / 1 rush)
For the third time this season, Matthew Stafford finished a game without an interception. Unfortunately, he also didn't throw a touchdown. Stafford began the game by moving the ball with ease between the 20 yard lines. He spread the ball between seven different players, and completed a high percentage of his passes. After starting the game with five completions, the Detroit offense sputtered in the red zone. A well thrown ball to Eric Ebron in the end zone (for what would have been an 11 yard touchdown) hit the tight end squarely on the hands but was dropped. Stafford then forced a ball into tight coverage for Tate, but the defender knocked the ball away and forced a field goal for Detroit. On the next drive, Stafford again moved the ball well, but stalled on Oakland's 19 yard line. Stafford overthrew Ameer Abdullah on a corner route that would have resulted in a touchdown, but ultimately took what the defense gave him, including a sack which resulted in another Detroit field goal. The second quarter was less thrilling for Stafford and company. While he worked short-to-intermediate routes, Stafford found less success as passes were broken up, overthrown, and knocked down at the line. Stafford did attempt a 50 yard bomb to Calvin Johnson, but overthrew the receiver who was double covered over the top. Later, in the hurry-up offense, Stafford found Johnson for receptions of 21 and 36 yards. A grounding penalty as Stafford was flushed from the pocket and nearly sacked, along with a 20 yard pass that was overthrown to Tate, put Detroit out of range and ended the half for them offensively. The third quarter began with a broken up pass and two sacks on Stafford. Fortunately, one of the sacks was negated by penalty, but Oakland showed improved success at collapsing the line and getting to Stafford as the game wore on. Golden Tate had gains of 6 and 21 yards, both passes caught near the line of scrimmage where Tate used his speed and agility to tack on extra yardage. Stafford and Ebron again failed to connect when Stafford's pass was too far in front of Ebron and could have resulted in an interception. The fourth quarter was all about Stafford's scrambling and running back Theo Riddick's usage. Of Stafford's six completions in the final quarter, four of them were to Riddick. Stafford also managed 28 yards on the ground on only three plays. Two of which he fled the pressure in the pocket and headed down field. On first and goal from the five yard line, Detroit spread the formation with five receivers out wide. With minimal pressure on the line, Stafford executed a quarterback draw up the middle for a touchdown. Stafford seemed to respond better to pressure this weekend. He frequently escaped and threw on the run, or headed down field for positive yardage. While he did have several off-target throws, he only made one large mistake on a grounding call where he felt the pressure and didn't think before reacting.
2015 Week 12 vs PHI (27 / 38 / 337 / 5 / 0 pass, 2 / 13 / 0 rush)
The Detroit Lions made a Thanksgiving Day statement with a potent offensive performance on a big stage. Notching their third win in under two weeks, Matthew Stafford was on point and continued to change the tone of a team that has looked lost for much of the season. While Stafford's first three passes out of the gate were either incomplete or negated by penalty, the tide turned for the rest of the first quarter. Getting Theo Riddick involved early, Stafford found him for 23 yards out of the back field. After a drop by Brandon Pettigrew near the goal line, the quarterback connected with Golden Tate on three short passes and capped of the drive with a pass to Riddick for an 8 yard touchdown. In the second quarter, Stafford used the scrambling up field ability that served him well against Oakland and moved the ball 13 yards on two plays where his receivers were covered and the pocket was collapsing. Midway through the second quarter, after working downfield using four different receivers, Stafford found Golden Tate on a nifty play where the receiver motioned into the backfield, then ran a route to the right for a quick pass from Stafford. Tate stopped on a dime and cut back inside, making a defender whiff on the tackle for an easy two yard touchdown. On next drive, Calvin Johnson began to simmer, as Stafford found him on a 19 yard crosser and targeted him deep (albeit unsuccessfully, as the two weren't on the same page). The uncharacteristic moments continued, as a perfectly thrown ball to Tate hit him in the chest and the typically sure-handed receiver dropped the ball. Shortly thereafter, after a couple of nice connections with Johnson, Stafford found Eric Ebron on back-to-back crossing routes for 19 and 9 yards. After attempting to connect with Johnson on a corner route for a touchdown where the pass was defended, the pocket collapsed on the next play and Stafford was unable to escape the pressure, resulting in a 7 yard sack for a loss. With the first half ticking away, on 3rd and 17 from the 25 yard line, Stafford found Johnson on a gorgeous corner route. Johnson was double covered underneath and to the side, but the ball was placed delicately where only Johnson could make the catch in stride. In the third quarter, Detroit continued to strike while they were hot. Stafford seemed much more comfortable, and moved the ball with ease, utilizing his primary receivers and receiving backs to move the chains. Johnson and Stafford's success continued, as the Lions sealed the victory with two additional touchdown passes to the receiver. On the first, the quarterback threw another perfectly placed ball as Johnson ran a corner route from the 4 yard line. With a defender inside, Stafford placed the ball high to Johnson's outside shoulder, letting the receiver use his size and hands to make the play. On their next touchdown connection, Stafford threw a high ball over the top of the defender as Johnson ran a corner route to the right. By the time the defender saw the ball coming he was out of position and again Johnson used his size and hands to catch the ball on the side of the end zone over the defender's grasp. While some of Detroit's success was thanks to the Eagles defense, Stafford and company looked calm, collected, and determined. Stafford didn't display the typical poor decision making that he had earlier in the season, and had a complete game. Additionally, he nearly finished with another touchdown in the closing moments of the game as Joique Bell was stopped at the one yard line on a screen pass.
2015 Week 13 vs GB (23 / 35 / 220 / 2 / 0 pass, 2 / 22 / 0 rush)
While the final result of the game was a defeat, Matthew Stafford delivered another positive week of production against a formidable Green Bay defense. Challenging the defense early, Stafford connected with 5 different receivers in the first quarter. His second pass of the day was to Calvin Johnson on a short crossing route that ended in a gain of 20. Stafford's second throw in Johnson's direction was a risky toss, as the receiver was double covered and the ball was nearly intercepted. A slight tip by Johnson inhibited the defender from making a play. On the next series, Stafford looked Golden Tate's direction often for 3 short passes that Tate was able to turn up field for additional yardage. On Stafford's first touchdown throw of the game, confusion on defense allowed Eric Ebron to scoot uncovered for an easy 3 yard touchdown catch. Following the touchdown, an interception on the first play for the Packers' offense put Detroit on the 17 yard line. Stafford wasted no time and targeted Johnson on a corner route in single coverage. The ball was placed high and deep for Johnson's hands only. Johnson tip-toed the sideline and brought the ball in for Stafford's second touchdown of the day. The second quarter was mostly controlled by Green Bay and did not see a score from either team. The Packers did amp up their blitz attack, however, and got to Stafford twice in the quarter. Later, Tate was targeted twice - a 25 yard pass over his head that he was unable to bring down, and a crossing route where he was bumped/blocked by a defender on a crossing route. The result was a ball left unattended and open for interception. Fortunately a nearby defender was unable to make the catch. Unable to find the end zone in the second half, Stafford continued to move the ball and test the deep ball, but was unable to connect as Detroit shifted to a run-heavy approach with the lead. Opening up the second half, Stafford found Bell on an 18 yard play action pass that Detroit has used with great success the last few weeks. A quick pass to Tate for 13 yards was followed by a 37 yard bomb to Johnson, who was open and ahead of his defender, but Stafford overthrew him by a couple of yards. Stafford again targeted Johnson a few throws later for what would have been a 25 yard touchdown. The ball was again off-target and Johnson was well covered allowing a defender to break up the catch. Sans Lance Moore, Stafford looked to Corey Fuller and TJ Jones in the second half. Both seeing some light action to help move the chains. A game-shifting play occurred late in the 3rd quarter with Detroit beginning a drive deep in their own territory. Julius Peppers had his speed and go-go gadget arms on full display as he whipped around a dazed left tackle and caught Stafford's arm as he cocked back to throw. The ball was fumbled and Green Bay recovered. The final quarter of the game was run focused, but two notable passes stand out. Looking Johnson's direction again, Stafford dropped a 33 yard bomb about one yard too far and just out of reach for the receiver. In the closing minutes, keeping a sleepy drive alive, Stafford found TJ Jones on a post route for a 29 yard gain, the receiver's third catch of his career.
2015 Week 14 vs LA (30 / 46 / 245 / 2 / 1 pass, 2 / 5 / 0 rush)
While it wasn't Matthew Stafford's worst statistical performance of the season, he and the Detroit Lions offense's overall performance felt uninspired and lethargic. Missing from this game that was so potent last week were the deep shots to Calvin Johnson downfield. Johnson wasn't even targeted until the second quarter, and finished the game with only one reception. The ground game was moderately effective, but the offensive line allowed Stafford to be rushed, hit, and sacked throughout the game. While Stafford has mitigated the pressure the last two weeks by using his feet to escape it, the speed of the St. Louis defenders kept Stafford in the pocket and did not allow the quarterback to seek refuge. Stafford's accuracy was reminiscent of games earlier in the season, as he missed open targets in a wide variety of ways. A poor decision midway through the second quarter on a toss intended for Calvin Johnson was easily undercut by the defender and returned for a 48 yard pick-six. The lone big play of the game came shortly thereafter when Stafford connected with Golden Tate on a 17 yard out that Tate cut back in for an additional 20 yards after the catch. The play was unfortunately negated by penalty, and Detroit stalled after a blatant intentional grounding call before heading in for the half. Stafford was able to find some success moving the ball in the second half, mostly on play action passes to his backs (which has been a successful staple play for Detroit lately), and check-down throws that were churned for chunks of yards after the catch. Late in the fourth quarter, with desperation setting in, a collapsing pocket forced Stafford outside and he threw an ill-advised pass that nearly resulted in another turnover. Ultimately, Stafford and his teammates couldn't muster enough offense against a beatable foe.
2015 Week 15 vs NO (22 / 25 / 254 / 3 / 0 pass, 4 / -1 / 0 rush)
The glow of Monday Night Football ignited the Detroit Lions offense early in this game. After an unimpressive first series, Matthew Stafford worked the field, targeting Calvin Johnson for a nifty 19 yard gain on a crossing route. A helmet-to-helmet hit added another 5 yards to the play, setting Stafford and the Lions up on the 4 yard line. After throwing away a pass over the head of his receiver on the first attempt, Stafford found Golden Tate on a quick out route along the goal line for a touchdown. Detroit's next series was short and to the point, as Stafford found Eric Ebron on a 4 yard out route to which the tight end turned up field along the side line for another 42 yards after the catch. Shortly thereafter, Stafford found his full back for the second time in the game for a 4 yard touchdown on a play-action pass to the right where the back was largely uncovered. On the next series Stafford continued his groove, utilizing several receivers to move the ball consistently. A big check-down pass to Theo Riddick for 21 yards followed by a short pass to Ameer Abdullah set the stage for another red zone attempt. Tate beat his defender on a quick slant for a 5 yard touchdown, Stafford's third of the day. The second half game plan for Detroit shifted with a lead, but Stafford continued to work the field and displayed a confidence unlike previous games this season. With nine completions in a row, Stafford broke his streak when he missed Ebron on an intermediate pass. Joique Bell and TJ Jones got involved on several passes as Detroit moved down the field, and Stafford executed a well-run bootleg to the right to find Lance Moore on the sideline. A coverage sack for a loss of 7 yards stalled Detroit as the New Orleans defense showed a renewed vigor in the second half. In the fourth quarter Detroit stuck to the ground for a good portion of their offensive series, but a few well executed passes ending with a near touchdown pass to Ebron as he fell at the 1 yard line of New Orleans showed a continued effort by Stafford. Stafford was crisp in this game - his passes were on point, he didn't have any questionable mistakes, and broke a Detroit passing percentage record on the game. He took sacks and threw the ball away instead of forcing it. This is the Stafford that Detroit needs heading into next season.
2015 Week 16 vs SF (29 / 37 / 301 / 2 / 0 pass, 5 / 11 / 0 rush)
Matthew Stafford delivered another game of mistake-free football against the 49ers on Sunday, and gave the Detroit loyal a satisfying win in their last home game of the season. Stafford was able to take advantage of the defense and was aided by a hefty amount of yardage after the catch throughout the day from his receivers. Calvin Johnson and Theo Riddick were heavily targeted, while Golden Tate saw a reduced role. Targeted only once on the day, TJ Jones continued to flash his developing skillset when Stafford hit him on a 29 yard post route. The receiver caught the ball near the end zone, was hit by two defenders but spun and fell for positive yards and a touchdown. Later in the second quarter, Calvin Johnson was targeted on a high ball to avoid defenders. Johnson went up but saw the ball go through his hands. He was hit on the play and came up shaken and limping. Fortunately, there wasn't a significant injury on the play as Johnson went on to have an exciting second half. On the final passing play of the first half, Tate set Detroit up for a last second field goal after advancing the ball 36 yards on a beautiful fade route. Throughout the second half, Stafford had very little difficulty moving the ball for Detroit. With completions to six different receivers in the third quarter alone, Stafford mixed short and intermediate throws and accessed all areas of the field. Eric Ebron put his athleticism on display again as the swift tight end caught a quick out at the line of scrimmage and cut up field along the sideline for a 20 yard gain. Stafford's second touchdown of the game came midway through the fourth quarter when he found Johnson on a quick slant on the 1 yard line. A double move by Johnson left him wide open for the touchdown. Stafford failed to connect on a two point conversion when he targeted Tate out of the backfield. The defenders read the play magnificently and Tate was tackled for a loss. In the final minutes of the game, Stafford connected with Johnson for 22 yards. Johnson appeared to catch the ball and turn up field. He was immediately hit by a defender and went to the ground at the 1 yard line. After review, however, it was ruled an incomplete pass.
2015 Week 17 vs CHI (28 / 39 / 298 / 3 / 0 pass, 6 / 10 / 0 rush)
Continuing his hot streak, Matthew Stafford delivered again facing the Bears and finished 2015 strong. Wasting little time on the first drive, Stafford went deep to Calvin Johnson for a 25 yard hook-up. He then continued to work the field hitting five different receivers on five passes, finishing with a Tim Wright touchdown out of a bunch formation that created separation for the tight end. Later in the first quarter, Stafford and the offense failed to take advantage after a turnover, as the line collapsed twice causing back-to-back sacks for the quarterback. The second quarter's time of possession was dominated by the Lions and saw a heavy dose of Stafford and the pass attack. With the pocket collapsing early in the second quarter, Stafford hung tough and found Eric Ebron on an out route for 8 yards. On the next pass Stafford threw a perfect back-shoulder pass to Calvin Johnson 20 yards down the field. Backyard Stafford also made an appearance, executing a clever side arm throw around a defender to catch Ebron in stride and keep the offense moving. While he piled up plenty of yardage, Stafford was unable to score in the second quarter. Things warmed up for the Detroit offense on their second possession of the third quarter, as Stafford quickly moved the ball downfield. Using his feet to scramble for 12 yards, Stafford followed up his run with a bomb to Johnson. With two defenders in the receiver's vicinity, Stafford placed a pass perfectly for Johnson to work in between the two defenders and make the catch for a 36 yard touchdown. Later, Joique Bell helped pad Stafford's stats on a 36 yard catch and run with nearly all of the yards after the reception. Theo Riddick added another 18 after motioning out of the backfield for a short catch across the middle as well. On Stafford's final touchdown of the game, Stafford hit Ebron in the back of the end zone on a crossing route for a 1 yard touchdown. Stafford played another great game of mistake free football and gave Detroit a moral win to close out their 2015 season.
2014 Week 1 vs NYG (22 / 32 / 346 / 2 / 0 pass, 4 / 2 / 1 rush)
Stafford and the Lions offense got off to a tremendous start in the opening game of the season. Stafford was accurate, decisive, and mobile without the inaccurate and poor throws from seasons past. Calvin Johnson and Stafford were in lock-step in the first half as they piled up over 100 yards and two touchdowns between them. The new offense in Detroit featured many aspects from the Saints attack like consistent personnel changes, motion, and quick decisions for the quarterback. Stafford excelled making those decisions. After back to back touchdown drives to open the game, the Giants defense stiffened until the fourth quarter. Despite additional pocket pressure and tighter coverage, Stafford took care of the football, showed mobility from pressure, and threw the ball away on occasion. Stafford's day could have been even bigger with two near touchdowns on a fourth quarter drive that stalled in the red zone.
2014 Week 2 vs CAR (27 / 48 / 291 / 1 / 1 pass, 1 / 8 / 0 rush)
Early on, Stafford showed improved movement from prior seasons and accuracy in the short range passing game. The Carolina defense was a far stiffer test, especially at home, than the Giants a week ago. The Panthers secondary took away single coverage looks to Calvin Johnson for a majority of the game. As the first half progressed, consistent pressure piled up for Stafford. Two early drives stalled with a missed field goal and a Joique Bell fumble as well. With a widened deficit as the second half wore on, Stafford forced a pass into blanket coverage for Calvin Johnson on a deep post, which was tipped away and intercepted. The game continued to slip away from Detroit and Stafford's game had an ugly finish with back to back sacks in the closing minutes plus taking a helmet to helmet shot on a scramble.
2014 Week 3 vs GB (22 / 34 / 246 / 0 / 2 pass, 6 / 8 / 0 rush)
Unlike in the first two weeks of the season, when Stafford was forced to move in and out of the pocket against the Packers, he did not look comfortable. The matchup was billed as a likely shootout, but it quickly turned into a defensive-minded affair. On the opening two drives of the game, Stafford stalled the offense with missed connections on third downs. As pressure continued, Stafford preemptively reacted to bodies around him in the pocket, leading to an unnecessary roll-out and high throw to an open Corey Fuller on another third down. That pass was tipped and ultimately intercepted. Defensive pressure was the main reason Detroit did not run away with the game in the first half. Another drive ended with a collapsing pocket and forced deep throw to Calvin Johnson, which was again intercepted. A crossing route sidearm throw was off the mark when Stafford was under pressure, as well as a stalled red zone drive, and a missed field goal left the door open for Green Bay at 12-7 through 30 minutes. Again the offense stalled in the red zone in the third quarter as Julius Peppers stripped Stafford in the pocket. The Detroit defense and situational offensive plays were the story this week as the Green Bay defense consistently kept Stafford and the passing game off-balance.
2014 Week 4 vs NYJ (24 / 34 / 293 / 2 / 0 pass, 6 / 8 / 1 rush)
The Lions were on the road this week against the Jets and despite being active for the game, Calvin Johnson was little more than a decoy with an ankle injury. While the flashy downfield power throws were absent from the game plan, Stafford did not turn the ball over and converted key third downs. The Jets consistently pressured Stafford in the pocket. Quick passes were the counterpoint for the Lions as the running game struggled until the final clock-draining drive. Stafford was laboring physically late in the second quarter, but led a touchdown drive in the final minute, which included a strike down the seam to a well-covered Eric Ebron for the score. The Lions maintained that 17-3 halftime lead throughout the second half. Two key third downs over the final 30 minutes included a third-and-long strike to Golden Tate on an out route when the Jets were capturing the momentum and a naked bootleg to run out the clock in the closing minutes. The Jets made the mistakes in this game and Stafford succeeded in limiting the impact of pocket pressure and avoiding the key turnover himself.
2014 Week 5 vs BUF (18 / 31 / 221 / 1 / 1 pass, 3 / 8 / 0 rush)
Through consistent pocket pressure, three missed field goals, and Reggie Bush and Calvin Johnson leaving the game due to injury, the Lions squandered an early 14-0 lead against Buffalo. Stafford never found rhythm in the pocket and relied on random big plays from Golden Tate and backup running back George Winn to sustain any offensive drive. The Bills pass rush consistently moved Stafford off his spot in the pocket and while Stafford moved well, he was tracked down for sacks or minimal gains on the perimeter. All three missed field goals were long-range, leaving an interception return for a touchdown, and a lone scoring drive by the offense as their only sustained possession of the game. Despite just 95 total yards, 58 through the air, at the half Detroit had a 14-3 lead. With three minutes to play and one minute left in the game, Stafford and the offense had the ball with the score tied. A low throw by Stafford and a subsequent sack led to a punt, then a long missed field goal in the final minute gave Buffalo advantageous field position to ultimately win it. Stafford was without three of his main passing game weapons this week (Bush, Johnson, and Joique Bell) and Buffalo's pass rush was clearly a factor throughout the game.
2014 Week 6 vs MIN (19 / 33 / 185 / 1 / 0 pass, 1 / 1 / 0 rush)
Despite the comfortable win in Minnesota, Stafford and the passing offense struggled without Calvin Johnson and Reggie Bush in the lineup. Stafford was regularly harassed in the pocket and rarely completed passes on time and within the construct of the designed play. Without a feared deep threat, the Vikings pass defense crowded the typically-open intermediate and short passing lanes. Despite Minnesota doing absolutely nothing on offense outside of a drive or two, Detroit led only 10-0 deep into the second half. Even with a new kicker, Matt Prater, added this week, Detroit missed another two kicks against the Vikings keeping the game close. Detroit escaped with a road win despite a ball-control offense that will need to expand against a higher-quality opponent, like New Orleans and Atlanta over the next two weeks.
2014 Week 7 vs NO (27 / 40 / 299 / 2 / 2 pass, 2 / 1 / 0 rush)
Once again the Lions offense struggled without Calvin Johnson for most of the game against the Saints. Detroit trailed 17-3 when getting the ball for the first time in the third quarter. Stafford contributed to the slow start in the first half against a pressuring Saints defensive front. Stafford also forced the ball to Golden Tate against double and triple coverage at times and missed an open target or two. Stafford's second interception was a tipped pass by lightly-involved reserve tight end Jordan Thompson in the red zone, which potentially ended the game down 10 points with nine minutes to play. In the comeback effort, Stafford made stick throws in key moments, including three third down conversions to Tate. The last of those third down throws, Tate turned up the field for a long touchdown and only a six-point deficit with three minutes to play. The exclamation point of the comeback came with Stafford firing a touchdown to Corey Fuller in the back of the end zone with less than two minutes remaining. Stafford had more bad than good in the game as the running game was not consistent and the non-Golden Tate targets were replacement level at best. Better days are ahead with Calvin Johnson, Eric Ebron, and even Joseph Fauria back in the lineup.
2014 Week 8 vs ATL (24 / 47 / 325 / 2 / 1 pass, 3 / 9 / 0 rush)
The Lions were slow out of the gate on offense and defense this week against Atlanta in London. Calvin Johnson, Reggie Bush, and Detroit's trio of regular tight end contributors were out of the lineup. Stafford struggled to find a rhythm as the Lions were down by two touchdowns early in the second quarter. In the first half, Stafford appeared to force the ball to Corey Fuller, filling in for Calvin Johnson, in key moments. In addition to airmailing a third-and-long throw to Fuller on the opening drive, Stafford targeted Fuller again on third down late in the second quarter. Fuller slipped out of his break, in addition to being well-covered, resulting in an easy interception for the roaming defensive back; A potential shift in momentum on the drive turned into a 21-0 halftime deficit. In the second half, the inconsistent play continued as Atlanta pressured the pocket, forcing missed opportunities for Detroit's offense. A drive into the red zone stalled when a pass was tipped, followed by Stafford's arm being hit on third down. The first dynamic play for Detroit's offense did not come until late in the third quarter. Stafford extended a third-and-long play, ultimately finding Golden Tate behind the secondary for a momentum-changing long touchdown. Throughout the second half, Atlanta did nothing on offense to put the game away and Stafford took advantage with a long touchdown drive, culminating with finding Theo Riddick open in the flat for the touchdown. A missed two-point conversion to tie the game set the scene for Matthew Stafford to win the game on a final drive. Detroit trailed 21-19 with 98 seconds to play beginning at their own seven-yard-line. When the game was on the line, Stafford and Golden Tate came through yet again with a clutch 30-yard seam throw-and-catch to fuel the ultimate game-winning field goal. Outside of a handful of throws, Stafford had an underwhelming performance and clearly missed his regular complement of weapons.
2014 Week 10 vs MIA (25 / 40 / 280 / 2 / 1 pass, 2 / -1 / 0 rush)
In the early going, it was a controlled game plan for the Lions offense and Matthew Stafford. The impact of Calvin Johnson's return was felt throughout the game, including the Lions' first touchdown of the game. Stafford slide from pressure in the pocket, then found Johnson one-on-one for a long touchdown as Detroit raced out to a 10-0 first quarter lead. Stafford logged an interception on another Calvin Johnson deep target. A slightly underthrown pass, plus the athleticism of Brent Grimes made the highlight reel play in the end zone. In typical Detroit fashion, Stafford and the offense mired through the middle of the game with untimely penalties, allowed pocket pressure, and Stafford misfires. In the closing minutes, Stafford was given the ball, down 16-13. Two off-target throws led to a three-and-out. Stafford did get one final opportunity with three minutes to play. This time, the Detroit offense took advantage. Stafford hit Calvin Johnson on a deep out route to get into Miami territory. On third down, Stafford made his throw of the game, rolling out and hitting Theo Riddick down the sideline for the game-winning red zone touchdown.
2014 Week 11 vs ARI (18 / 30 / 183 / 0 / 1 pass, 0 / 0 / 0 rush)
Stafford and the Detroit offense had a tough matchup against the Cardinals stingy defense in Arizona and the game played out as such. The Cardinals bolted out to a 14-0 within the first 10 minutes of the game. The Lions stayed balanced on offense, but Stafford and the passing game struggled to string together successful plays. As has been a trend for the Lions this season, they squandered long drives and took untimely sacks. In the first half Stafford contributed his fair share of mistakes including staring down Calvin Johnson on a should-have-been interception returned for a touchdown and missing a wide open Johnson on a deep post route. The latter was a likely long touchdown and at minimum another field goal opportunity. Even staked with the ball in the red zone following a defensive interception before the half, Detroit's offense stalled once again for a 14-6 deficit. Stafford started off the second half with a bold strike to Calvin Johnson on a post route. Instead of setting the tone for a different result over the final 30 minutes, it was more of the same from the first half. Stafford hesitated against tight coverage multiple times in key moments and inaccuracy plagued the potential comeback effort. Stafford floated a pass into double-coverage for an easy interception and overthrew Calvin Johnson on a single coverage deep route for good measure. A well-covered fourth down attempt with seven minutes to play followed by a sack and fumbled snap with three minutes to play capped off Detroit's game drives. Even with Calvin Johnson and Eric Ebron back in the lineup, Stafford was off his game, reactive to pressure, and unable to deliver accurate passes into tight windows consistently against Arizona.
2014 Week 12 vs NE (18 / 46 / 264 / 0 / 1 pass, 3 / 18 / 0 rush)
The checklist for winning in the NFL on the road against a tough opponent is rather simple: Win the turnover battle, protect the passer, optimize red zone opportunities, and get off to a fast start. The Lions offense struggled in all of those areas this week in the road thumping at New England. Stafford dealt with consistent pressure, receivers dropping contested passes, and faltered in the red zone throughout the game. Tight coverage was the norm as Calvin Johnson was neutralized, which has caused Stafford to go into a shell in previous weeks. Detroit trailed 24-6 at half with the game getting out of hand with 10 minutes to play. Three red zone drives in the first 30 minutes resulted in just three total points. When Stafford did have a clean pocket, at least half the time he threw the ball away after scanning the field. Calvin Johnson, Eric Ebron, and Jeremy Ross each had two hands on a long gain, which they could not haul in. There were glimmers of hope in the second half as Stafford made a highlight reel connection to Johnson on a deep out route on third-and-long in addition to converting a fourth down to Eric Ebron. Neither resulted in a touchdown drive, however, as Detroit did not find the end zone all game. The final blow to the Lions' chances was Stafford scrambling in the open field on fourth-and-10, only to slide down in front of the marker. With 11 minutes to play, the game was essentially over. Stafford threw in an interception as he was hit with six minutes to play for good measure. The Lions get an opportunity to rebound on Thanksgiving with the short week, but were soundly defeated by the Patriots in Week 12.
2014 Week 13 vs CHI (34 / 45 / 390 / 2 / 0 pass, 0 / 0 / 0 rush)
Stafford had six touchdown and six interceptions over the past five games and desperately needed a 'get well' game. This week against the Bears certainly qualified as he completed a season-high 76% of his passes and carved up the poor Chicago secondary for 8.7 yards-per-attempt. The first drive was not an optimistic start as Stafford missed Calvin Johnson on a third down side-armed attempt with a clean pocket, but once Detroit's passing game found its rhythm, they were difficult to stop. Detroit trailed 14-3 late in the first quarter thanks to Stafford being stripping inside the Lions 10-yard-line. Stafford began to dominate with deep strikes to Corey Fuller, Calvin Johnson, and Golden Tate in the second quarter. Stafford capped off the half with a fade touchdown to Johnson to take a 24-14 lead. Despite the early off-target pass or two, Stafford was 22-for-26 with 275 yards and a pair of touchdowns at the half - a career highlight-worthy 30 minutes of play. The Lions passing game was mostly held in check as they maintained their lead through the second half. Stafford just missed a back shoulder touchdown to Calvin Johnson which would have padded his overall performance. With the Buccaneers' woeful secondary coming to Detroit next week, Stafford has an excellent chance to build upon the strong Thanksgiving day performance.
2014 Week 14 vs TB (26 / 34 / 311 / 3 / 0 pass, 3 / -2 / 0 rush)
The middle of the season was a rough stretch for Matthew Stafford with Calvin Johnson in and out of the lineup in addition to Stafford's own hit-or-miss play. Against Tampa Bay, Stafford continued his hot play of late (the great matchups have certainly helped). Stafford eluded pressure early in the game, converting two third downs by moving from the pocket and delivering strikes to Joique Bell and Joseph Fauria. While Stafford's mobility has been an improvement this season overall, he is still not a good straight-line runner. On third-and-one Stafford took off with what looked to be an easy first down opportunity, but was tracked down from behind by a lineman. One of Stafford's most impressive throws on the day did not light up the stat sheet. On an outlet route to Reggie Bush, Stafford had no angle or window as Bush's entire body was blocked by a defender. Stafford side-armed the pass into a non-existent window for the short gain, which served as a reminder of his natural arm talent. Stafford was 17-of-21 at the half as more game-manager than big player creator. In the second half, Stafford switched modes and Detroit ultimately pulled away for the home win. Stafford hit Calvin Johnson for a 53-yard bomb early in the third quarter in addition to a touchdown strike to Joseph Fauria on third down in the red zone. Stafford was not able to elude Tampa Bay's pressure in the second half with untimely sacks and hesitation in the face of tight coverage. The Vikings and Bears the next two weeks offer quality matchups to continue Stafford's two-game stretch of strong performances.
2014 Week 15 vs MIN (17 / 28 / 153 / 1 / 0 pass, 1 / 2 / 0 rush)
Despite the home win against the Vikings, it was a rough game for Matthew Stafford and the Lions offense. The entire compliment of weapons was back at Stafford's disposal, yet the Lions squeaked by on two second half field goals and holding the Vikings scoreless over the final 30 minutes for the victory. Stafford's accuracy was spotty at best early as he missed an open Jeremy Ross rolling out of the pocket and back-pedaled from pressure as he airmailed another third down opportunity. Stafford and the offense were staked in field goal range twice with Minnesota turnovers, resulting in two scores, including an easy pitch-and-catch to Golden Tate on an out route. Stafford was tracked down as he scrambled from the pocket on third down, squandering the second of those red zone chances with a field goal. Despite 58 passing yards at the half, Detroit trailed only 14-10. Stafford heated up in the third quarter with quality throws to Calvin Johnson down the seam and Golden Tate on a deep out. In the mid-third quarter tackle LaAdrian Waddle left with an injury and did not return. Stafford's time in the pocket decreased as a result. The Bears and Packers offer optimistic passing game matchups to close the season, but Stafford's scattershot accuracy and footwork must improve to take advantage.
2014 Week 16 vs CHI (22 / 39 / 243 / 0 / 2 pass, 4 / 2 / 0 rush)
It took a bevy of dropped passes by the Chicago Bears and well into the fourth quarter for Matthew Stafford and the Lions to pull out the road win against Jimmy Clausen in Week 16. Stafford dealt with consistent pressure from the Bears and his mechanics and accuracy suffered as a result. Stafford was sacked three times in the first quarter and a half. The second quarter was a house of horrors for Stafford as he logged two interceptions, both in field goal range. Stafford rolled away from pressure and lofted a jump ball to the back of the end zone, an easy play for the roaming defensive back. After missing Calvin Johnson badly on a slant route, Stafford threw another interception, this time in the direction of Golden Tate. Stafford was anchored to the pocket with solid protection, making the poor decision and throw even more glaring. Despite moving up and down the field throughout the first half, the game was tied due to sacks and turnovers. Detroit barely saw the ball in the third quarter. The game turned in the second half through the strong play of Joique Bell, not the consistency of Matthew Stafford. Outside of a strike to Golden Tate on a post route to convert a clutch fourth down, Stafford was very hit-or-miss. He missed Joique Bell on a wide open wheel route - a potential touchdown or at a minimum sizeable gain - as well as a significant underthrow of Corey Fuller down the sidelines when the receiver had five yards of separation. A defensive pass interference penalty covered up Stafford's poor throw to Fuller on the play. Stafford's inconsistent play is a major question mark heading into Detroit's showdown in Green Bay to close the season.
2014 Week 17 vs GB (20 / 41 / 217 / 3 / 0 pass, 4 / 29 / 0 rush)
With a division title and bye week on the line, Matthew Stafford would have to do something he had never accomplished in his NFL career in Green Bay this week: beat a winning team on the road. Once again, Stafford was streaky from drive to drive as his accuracy and mechanics were a major concern. Early in the game, as Green Bay built a 14-0 lead, Stafford was moved off his spot with pocket pressure and consistently missed open receivers. When well-protected Stafford made quality throws to Eric Ebron and Golden Tate late in the first quarter, but the first half was filled with missed opportunities. Stafford airmailed Golden Tate on a routine smoke screen, in addition to a fourth down comeback route in Packers territory. Calvin Johnson got behind two defenders on a deep post, only to be missed with a poor throw. Stafford threw in a short-armed attempt to Reggie Bush in the flat on third-and-long for good measure. Two quality throws, one to Ebron and a post route route touchdown to Johnson salvaged a very uneven first half. Stafford completed less than half his passes in the opening 30 minutes. Stafford led a comeback effort in the third quarter with clutch throws to Golden Tate on third down and perfect touch to Calvin Johnson in the corner of the end zone to tie the game. When it mattered most, however, Stafford, along with two injuries on the offensive line, unraveled. Stafford reverted to inaccuracy when the pocket was clean and pressure mounted with the make-shift offensive line. Once down by multiple touchdowns, Stafford was called for grounding in the end zone prior to mounting a last-gasp touchdown drive to close the spread in the final two minutes. Question marks abound with the Detroit offense heading into Wild Card weekend, where they travel to Dallas. Pass protection and Matthew Stafford's accuracy on routine throws will be paramount for Detroit to avoid a swift playoff exit.
2014 Week 18 vs DAL (28 / 42 / 323 / 1 / 1 pass, 1 / 9 / 0 rush)
Despite a strong first half and early lead, Stafford and the Lions could get their first playoff win since back in the Barry Sanders era for the franchise. While building a 10-point halftime lead, Stafford exceled from the pocket with timely throws. On the first score of the game, Stafford delivered a strike to Golden Tate on a long-developing out-and-up route, zooming after the catch for a 51-yard score. Another strike to Tate on a slant converted a critical third-down play. Stafford also eluded an initial defender, and then bounced off a tackle attempt to move the sticks on a third-down scramble. Stafford's mobility has been improved this season and on display this week. A poor decision, throwing into multiple defenders in the red zone, nearly resulted in an interception in the closing seconds of the first half. Stafford continued to make clutch throws in the second half despite minimal opportunities as Dallas controlled possession. Stafford found Corey Fuller between defenders down the field as well as a rope to Calvin Johnson on a deep out route on third-and-long. Both were tight windows that required power and accuracy. Stafford had one final drive, as they trailed for the first time in the game, with 2:32 remaining and 80 yards to go for the winning touchdown. The drive began with Stafford dinking-and-dunking, taking what the defense allowed underneath. When the drive hit a speed bump near midfield, Stafford was faced with fourth-and-three with the game on the line. After good coverage caused Stafford to hold the ball, Dallas' pass rush for one of the few times all game, got home and stripped Stafford of the ball. Dallas recovered and the Lions season ended with their offense having an opportunity to win the game.
2013 Week 1 vs MIN (28 / 43 / 357 / 2 / 1 pass, 5 / 2 / 0 rush)
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.
2013 Week 2 vs ARI (24 / 36 / 278 / 2 / 0 pass, 2 / 1 / 0 rush)
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.
2013 Week 3 vs WAS (25 / 42 / 385 / 2 / 1 pass, 1 / 2 / 0 rush)
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.
2013 Week 4 vs CHI (23 / 35 / 242 / 1 / 1 pass, 5 / 8 / 1 rush)
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.
2013 Week 5 vs GB (25 / 40 / 262 / 1 / 0 pass, 1 / -1 / 0 rush)
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.
2013 Week 6 vs CLE (25 / 43 / 248 / 4 / 1 pass, 2 / 6 / 0 rush)
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.
2013 Week 7 vs CIN (28 / 51 / 357 / 3 / 0 pass, 0 / 0 / 0 rush)
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.
2013 Week 8 vs DAL (33 / 48 / 488 / 1 / 2 pass, 3 / 12 / 1 rush)
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.
2013 Week 10 vs CHI (18 / 35 / 219 / 3 / 1 pass, 2 / -1 / 0 rush)
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.
2013 Week 11 vs PIT (19 / 46 / 362 / 2 / 1 pass, 3 / 24 / 0 rush)
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.
2013 Week 12 vs TB (26 / 46 / 297 / 3 / 4 pass, 2 / 6 / 0 rush)
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.
2013 Week 13 vs GB (22 / 35 / 330 / 3 / 2 pass, 1 / 8 / 0 rush)
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.
2013 Week 14 vs PHI (10 / 25 / 148 / 0 / 0 pass, 6 / -1 / 0 rush)
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.
2013 Week 15 vs BAL (18 / 34 / 235 / 1 / 3 pass, 2 / 9 / 0 rush)
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.
2013 Week 16 vs NYG (25 / 42 / 222 / 0 / 2 pass, 1 / -1 / 0 rush)
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.
2013 Week 17 vs MIN (22 / 33 / 217 / 1 / 0 pass, 0 / 0 / 0 rush)
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.
2012 Week 1 vs STL (32 / 48 / 355 / 1 / 3 pass, 0 / 0 / 0 rush)
Matthew Stafford had an extremely up and down game on Sunday that was completely marred by turnovers and silly interceptions that almost cost his team the win. Stafford started the game off looking well, being decisive and steadily leading his team down the field to the redzone. Stafford then threw a poor interception to the DB on a short pattern in the redzone; he simply threw without looking properly and the DB stepped in front of the pass for the pick. Stafford later threw a strike to his WR over the middle of the field but was unfortunate not to be given the credit of the touchdown as he was stopped on the 1 yard line. Stafford played with a lot of confidence on Sunday, throwing into extremely tight windows and was decisive with the football. He took to many risks however and often did not survey the field well enough before releasing the ball. Stafford was picked a second time as a STL LB stepped in front of the outside pattern and snagged it before it got to its intended target. Stafford was being too careless with his reads, was too locked into one receiver and trusted his eyes too much. Stafford got picked for third time on the sideline by CB Finnegan who undercut the route, broke off from his WR and read it perfectly for the pick 6. Stafford could have been picked a further two times but got lucky as the ball bounced off the defenders hands and fell to the dirt. He did somewhat make up for his massive errors by picking up first downs with ease and flinging a 50 yard bomb to Calvin Johnson to set up a FG at the end of the half. His second half was much better than the first and began to really put things together and connect with his WR's. Stafford closed out the game late with a short pass to wide open RB Smith for the easy score. His performance was just good enough to seal the win but the careless turnovers have to be a cause for concern amongst the Lions nation.
2012 Week 2 vs SF (19 / 32 / 230 / 1 / 1 pass, 2 / 10 / 0 rush)
Matthew Stafford had a tough time moving the ball at all on Sunday night against a stiff 49ers defense. Stafford was completely out of rhythm early in the game and had to contend with poor field position and virtually no running attack for the entire game. The 49ers coverage in the passing game was excellent and Stafford struggled to find an open target all night. The 49ers played with two safeties deep that prevented any big play from happening down the field but also managed stiff tight coverage in the underneath routes that put Stafford in a bind. Stafford's first read was hardly ever open and he had a vicious pass rush to combat also. His interception came on a bizarre looking throw deep over the middle of the field. Stafford threw a very wobbly pass that was overthrown and easily picked off by 49ers safety. The Lions never established the run well despite their efforts and could not force the safeties to drop down lower to make it easier on the deep passing game. Stafford's only real go to play was Calvin Johnson deep down the seam or middle of the field which was open occasionally and he managed to make this connection a few times. Stafford missed a few throws including an open Scheffler as time was running out but came back a play later to find TE Pettigrew over the middle for the touchdown near the goal line and threw a perfect strike into very tight coverage for the score.
2012 Week 3 vs TEN (33 / 42 / 278 / 1 / 0 pass, 2 / 12 / 0 rush)
Matt Stafford had quite an afternoon, until the end of the game. Completing 33 of 42 passes, Stafford totaled 278 yards and a touchdown. Stafford did not throw an interception. Matt Stafford is continuing to prove he is one of the best 5 quarterbacks in the National Football League. Stafford hit 6 receivers for at least 4 completions each, and in the second half used Calvin Johnson to keep the Lions' offense on pace. Stafford showed the ability to balance the play calls with checks at the line of scrimmage. Much like Locker, Stafford only threw one or two passes errantly, and fell victim to several dropped passes. Stafford's day was steady, but his only touchdown drive came in the 4th quarter. Down by one point, the Lions ran Mikel LeShoure 5 times, and Stafford capped the drive off with a 3 yard touchdown pass to Nate Burleson. Looking to go up by a touchdown, Stafford found Burleson once more for the 2-point conversion. Unfortunately, Stafford left in the 4th quarter with an ankle injury. Stafford did not return, and was seen limping around the sidelines while grimacing.
2012 Week 4 vs MIN (30 / 51 / 319 / 0 / 0 pass, 4 / 14 / 1 rush)
Stafford began the day with a 'free play' from an offsides call, where the quarterback threw a long pass to a wide open Calvin Johnson and the pass was terribly underthrown, nearly picked off and drew a pass interference penalty. There's the Lions' season in a nutshell, because the Lions' offense has been about as confused and chaotic as that play. Stafford was just off all day long, a little high, a little left or a little right of his receivers. Stafford followed that up with a scramble to his left during which he got back to the line of scrimmage, but should have thrown it away before he got hit. The Vikings got constant penetration and kept Stafford hopping on almost every down, never allowing him to get comfortable and have time for a receiver to get open. For the second game in a row, the Vikings brought physicality to the match which seemed to throw everyone's timing off. He was clearly frustrated with his inability to get the ball cleanly to Calvin Johnson, though he tried often. Luckily, tight end Brandon Pettigrew bounced back from a poor outing against the Tennessee Titans and served as a safety blanket for Stafford, as did running backs Mikel Leshoure and Joique Bell. Still, the Vikings did a great job of limiting his deep reads and the longest completed pass for Stafford was just 26 yards and he was completely kept out of the end zone passing. He did score a touchdown with a stretching dive over the top on a quarterback sneak but it was a very close thing and he almost didn't make it. While he put up some stats, Stafford had an unpleasant day overall under center as he was hammered and pressured all day behind an offensive line that had no answers for the Vikings' pass rush.
2012 Week 6 vs PHI (22 / 45 / 311 / 1 / 1 pass, 3 / 7 / 1 rush)
Stafford struggled in this game, but came alive just in time to help the Lions win the game. To put things in prospective, Stafford had just seven completions for 91 yards after three quarters of play. Yet after running just six offensive plays in the third quarter, the alarm went off in Stafford's head and he came alive when it mattered most. He completed 15 of his last 24 passes, including the TD pass to Nate Burleson and also ran for another TD in leading his team to victory. The key thing that limited Stafford's upside is his poor throwing mechanics. At times he would throw the ball more side-arm than over the top, and he would occasionally throw off his back foot, lofting the ball more than throwing it with authority. To his credit, he has surprising accuracy at times, including the big 57 yard pass to Tony Scheffler in the 4th quarter when he was rolling out. The touchdown pass to Nate Burleson was another example - where Stafford threw off his back foot but placed it perfectly between two defenders where Burleson made an easy catch and was able to get into the end zone. Stafford also has Calvin Johnson cleaning up after him which doesn't hurt anyone's stat sheet. The TD run that Stafford had in the 4th quarter had more to do with play calling than anything else. Mikel Leshoure had been gashing the Eagles all day and when the Lions found themselves with 1st and goal from the 1, it made sense that Leshoure would be the guy to push it in. When Stafford faked to him and rolled out toward the goal line, the defense was nowhere near him. In overtime, Stafford was a perfect two for two. He opened the drive with a play action roll out and dumped the ball to Scheffler for a big 16 yard gain - similar to what they had done a few times already. Two plays later, the Eagles blitzed and Stafford hit Calvin Johnson on an inside-out route with a perfect pass. Megatron was able to haul in the pass and break itup the field for a big 17 yard gain to give the Lions the field position that they needed for the game winning field goal.
2012 Week 7 vs CHI (28 / 46 / 261 / 1 / 1 pass, 3 / 23 / 0 rush)
Stafford struggled in this game due to a relentless Chicago pass rush and stingy run defense that held his offense in check for most of the game. As with other games this season, Stafford struggled until the 4th quarter when he came alive, completing 14 of his 21 passes, including a touchdown pass to Ryan Broyles on the final offensive play of the game for the Lions. The problem with Stafford was that he was almost completely dependent on Calvin Johnson, especially in the red zone. When Stafford looked for someone other than Megatron, he was able to find Titus Young and Ryan Broyles, but Calvin was always his first option. Even near the goal line, when the Lions could have run it in, Stafford received the snap looking at Johnson and never looked off of him, either forcing the ball in or eventually checking down after the Chicago pressure was too great. His interception came after two incomplete passes from inside the three yard line. On 4th down, he was flushed out of the pocket and tried to force the ball into Broyles where it was picked off by D.J. Moore. Despite three red zone turnovers, Stafford's TD pass to Broyles with 30 seconds left had them within 7. He just waited too long again to get rolling.
2012 Week 8 vs SEA (34 / 49 / 352 / 3 / 1 pass, 4 / 12 / 1 rush)
It's taken eight weeks, but Matthew Stafford and the Lion passing offense finally looked the part, shockingly against one of the leagues better pass defenses. Trying to get his favorite target going early, Stafford's opening drive looked very much ado about nothing. Play action on the opening play, with a look deep down the sideline to Calvin Johnson was nowhere near complete. However, after looking Johnson's way again two plays later, there was a definite change in direction as Stafford began to use his other weapons. Starting their 2nd drive inside their own 20, Stafford quickly worked down the field. A dump off to Mikel Leshoure on 3rd and short to keep the drive going, Stafford then found a much more active and involved Brandon Pettigrew sitting down in the zone over the middle for six yards. Working off play action two plays later; Stafford hit Ryan Broyles on an out for 19 yards. The very next play, again as Johnson dragged safety help away from the middle of the field, Stafford hit Tony Scheffler deep over the middle for 20 yards. With Broyles lined up in the slot, with Johnson to his outside, Stafford again allowed Johnson to take the coverage as the two crossed and Broyles was left alone on the out. Stafford's throw was high, but Broyles made a nice catch and run for the six-yard TD. Two drives later, Stafford and the offense would again find pay dirt. Much like his counterpart, Stafford used the roll out off play action successfully, finding Scheffler for 14 yards. Working off the line of scrimmage, Pettigrew worked the quick out and Stafford found him easily for the 18-yard pickup. Stafford again tried to work Johnson into the mix, but the incompletion left the Lions in 3rd and long. With the focus clearly on Johnson, Young easily worked behind the coverage and Stafford threw a 46-yard dart to the wide-open Young in the end zone. After stalling on consecutive drives, Stafford did a nice job working the offense down the field on the Lions' first drive of the 2nd half. Opening the drive with a sack, Stafford used his arm to pick up the first down. First a quick screen to Young for eight yards. Facing 3rd and 11, Stafford hit Broyles on the quick slant for 12, again attacking the attention paid to Johnson over the top. Two plays later, Stafford again used play action trying to work the ball deep to Johnson, but smartly tucked and scrambled for 10 yards and a first down. Stafford finally found an open Johnson over the middle, but the throw was high and the resulting hit jarred the ball loose. Stafford's best throw of the game came four plays later as he rolled to his right. Facing pressure in his face, Stafford was able to drop his arm level to sidearm, hitting a diving Young for the first down. Not to get too high, Stafford's lone INT came two plays later. Trying to hit Scheffler on the post, Stafford misread the coverage throwing Scheffler further up the field as the TE slowed to avoid the deep safety coverage. The pass sailed right into Earl Thomas' arms. The following drive, Stafford and Johnson were finally able to connect (their first coming in the waning minutes of the 3rd quarter) for 25 yards. After two dumps over the middle to Joique Bell and Pettigrew, Stafford used the boot again to easily scamper in for the TD from one yard out. Much like the rest of 2012, Stafford saved his best for last, working the short game to the tune of a 16-play drive for the game winning TD. Opening the drive with a 15-yard toss to Johnson, the two would just miss their first TD connection of the season later in the drive. Johnson ran a perfect corner route; beating the coverage and Stafford did a nice job of throwing to the open space. However, unable to work his hands behind the throw, the toss just grazed his fingertips and fell incomplete. The Lions' final TD saw Stafford taking advantage of the attention paid to Johnson yet again, as Young was given free release off the line, quickly hitting the slant and Stafford delivered a nice low throw for the one yard TD. Stafford had his best game of the season, throwing more than 1 TD for the first time in the 2012 campaign.
2012 Week 9 vs JAX (22 / 33 / 285 / 0 / 0 pass, 2 / -2 / 0 rush)
Stafford's day started rough due to dropped passes and defensive pressure, but in the end he turned in an efficient performance that was minimized only by the fact that the Lions scored all four of their touchdowns via the running game. Stafford completed just seven of his first fourteen passes, with all of his completions being of the short variety. The Jaguars were confusing him by mixing up their defensive schemes and his first option was covered on nearly every play. Three times in the first quarter her floated passes over the head of his running back in the flats and two of the three could have been picked off. Fortunately for him they were not, and by the third drive Stafford started to find a rhythm, mostly due to the fact that Calvin Johnson got more involved in the game plan. Stafford completed his last three passes of the Lions first touchdown drive, including a couple of well timed and placed throws to Johnson. The Lions second touchdown drive came courtesy of a couple of clutch throws from Stafford on third down. He perfectly placed an eleven yard out to Pettigrew on third and eight and then connected with Calvin Johnson on a well thrown ball down the left sideline. Johnson was tripped up at the one after a 38 yard gain, costing Stafford his first chance for a passing touchdown. Stafford found a rhythm in the second quarter, completing eight out of ten passes with nearly every thrown timed perfectly. At the start of the fourth quarter he threw a perfect pass to a wide open Titus Young in the left corner of the end zone, but Young dropped the pass. That would prove to be Stafford's last opportunity at a touchdown pass, but his accuracy and connection with Johnson were encouraging signs.
2012 Week 10 vs MIN (28 / 42 / 329 / 3 / 1 pass, 3 / 13 / 0 rush)
Matthew Stafford has a reputation as being an elite quarterback, but today he looked like a player who was reliant on his superstar wide receiver. Stafford's accuracy was erratic all day and he only achieved any real consistency when he was throwing to the huge catch radius of Calvin Johnson. He never really got in rhythm from the off. His first few passes included a wildly overthrown pass to the sidelines, a ball that was tipped at the line of scrimmage and a number of good decisions but inaccurate passes that led to incompletions. Eventually, Stafford's recklessness with the football caught up with him. On third and 10, throwing from deep in his own territory, Stafford lazily tried to throw the ball to Brandon Pettigrew who was running across the field toward the sideline. Stafford never set his feet and the ball sailed into the hands of Chad Greenway. He padded his statistics with late drives against prevent defenses and big plays from Calvin Johnson, but two of his touchdowns were to open receivers and the third was a screen pass to Calvin Johnson. Stafford put up numbers, but not a performance.
2012 Week 11 vs GB (17 / 39 / 266 / 1 / 2 pass, 2 / 12 / 0 rush)
Matthew Stafford didn't have a great game, but his struggles to get anyone else besides Calvin Johnson involved in the offense continued. While Stafford tried to target Brandon Pettigrew and Tony Scheffler to mix things up, most of those passes were for short gains or were completely off target in the case of Scheffler. Of Stafford's first seven passes, two were caught for just one yard. When you start out like that, it's hard to get a rhythm going. But Stafford kept plugging away, and on his next pass, he rolled out to his right and found Calvin Johnson deep down the right side of the field for a huge 53 yard gain. It was the longest pass of the day for either team. But Stafford would complete three more passes to Johnson for more than 20 yards, including the 25 yard TD pass that was nearly intercepted. Stafford also had passes of 27 and 24 yards to Broyles and Titus Young late in the game that set up the field goal to put the Lions up by six. Unfortunately it would not be enough, and seven of Stafford's last eight passes were incomplete (the final one being the 30 yard completion to Calvin Johnson when the Packers were in prevent defense, just trying to keep the Lions from scoring). Five sacks didn't help his cause, although in two cases, Stafford just couldn't find an open receiver and basically ate the ball rather than throw it away. He also had two plays where he just tucked the ball and ran. Both were for six yards and both were for first downs. His first interception was a telegraphed side-arm pass and the second one was a pass that Tony Scheffler should have caught but he tipped it right to the defender who returned it for a pick-six.
2012 Week 12 vs HOU (31 / 61 / 441 / 2 / 0 pass, 2 / 7 / 0 rush)
The Lions threw the ball 61 times against the Texans in their overtime contest on Thanksgiving. Matthew Stafford completed 50% of his passes for a respectable 7.22 yards per attempt. However, he did not look comfortable in the pocket in facing the Texans pass rush. He had at least thee balls batted at the line of scrimmage (including two by JJ Watt) and had a number of throws off of his back foot or where he otherwise appeared to not be set. His two touchdowns came in different ways. He threw a deep pass to Calvin Johnson that carried just over the heads of two Texan defenders for a 22 yard score. He also threw a five yard touchdown to Mike Thomas on an excellent pass. On the play, Thomas lined up to the left side and ran an in-route to the middle of the endzone. Facing a heavy pass-rush, Stafford backpeddled to the 12 yard line before throwing a hard pass through the defense to the streaking Thomas. Stafford's best pass came on a play in the second quarter. Upon taking the snap, he rolled out to the right and threw the ball side arm to Brandon Pettigrew resulting in a first and goal situation that the Lions would capitalize on shortly thereafter. Stafford was sacked on third and seven late in the fourth quarter, taking the Lions out of field goal range which would have likely won the game.
2012 Week 13 vs IND (27 / 46 / 313 / 2 / 1 pass, 1 / 0 / 0 rush)
Matthew Stafford played well enough to win on Sunday but his defense gave up too many plays late in the game which sealed the victory for the Colts. Stafford employed typical use of his side arm delivery on many throws, which decreases accuracy but seems to be used for a quicker delivery that can avoid defenders hands when they jump high to bat the ball down. Stafford hit TE Scheffler on a perfect pass down the sideline, getting it just in bounds enough for Scheffler to drag his feet to keep the catch alive. Stafford then hit TE Pettigrew on a post route in the endzone for the touchdown, placing the ball just high enough for his tall TE to snag the pass away from the defender who had his back turned. Stafford used many roll outs and scrambled out of the pocket to avoid the pass rush from Indianapolis. Stafford did find WR Thomas in the endzone on a short curl route but Thomas dropped the touchdown unfortunately. Stafford also had one turnover as he failed to see OLB Mathis drop into coverage as he picked off a pass to the outside. Stafford leaned heavily on WR Johnson for most of this game and showed incredible chemistry with in stride throws for most of the game. Stafford's biggest play came on a rollout as he bought a lot of time for his WR to uncover deep down the field and hit Johnson on a post route for the touchdown. Stafford very little running game to work with and was merely a few first downs short of winning the game on Sunday, being let down by his defense.
2012 Week 14 vs GB (27 / 45 / 264 / 1 / 1 pass, 3 / 9 / 1 rush)
The Lions' opening drive was reliant on the run, but after milking over seven and a half seconds off of the clock, Stafford was the one to punch it in the endzone on a play-action bootleg designed run into the endzone. The Packers' defense completely bought the fake to Mikel Leshoure. Stafford showed great composure and control in the early stages of this game, even if he was primarily just complementing the running game. However, in the second quarter the elements effected Stafford and he fumbled the ball when he tried to throw it with no defenders around him. To compound the mistake, Stafford couldn't fall on the football despite having the first chance. Instead, the ball was picked up by a defensive lineman and run the other way for an easy touchdown. Stafford soon after threw his first interception as a miscommunication between he and Kris Durham led to Stafford throwing the ball straight to Sam Shields down the field. After throwing erraticly throughout the game, Stafford nearly threw a game sealing interception to Shields again when he underthrew a pass straight to the outstretched hands of the cornerback deep down the field. Stafford was now forcing the game with his team down by 10 and under five minutes to go. He lofted a pass to the sidelines that should have been intercepted by rookie Casey Heyward. Stafford made many mistakes on a day when he lost his number one tight end and the offense revolved around the running game for much of the first half. He did throw one, very easy, touchdown pass at the goalline early in the game, but couldn't make the plays late on to win the game.
2012 Week 15 vs ARI (24 / 50 / 246 / 0 / 3 pass, 0 / 0 / 0 rush)
The Cardinals defense did not make things easy for Stafford and the passing game as they played well at home this week. Outside of his throws to Calvin Johnson, Stafford was just 14-of-33 for 125 yards. Even with Johnson's productive day against the generally tight coverage of Patrick Peterson, Stafford was one of this week's big disappointments at the quarterback position. The Lions offense totaled just 34 yards in the first quarter and even took a lead with an impressive 11-play touchdown drive early in the second quarter to go up 7-0. Stafford nearly lead another scoring drive in the second quarter, but penalties and missing open receivers plagued him. In the second quarter alone, Stafford had two ugly interceptions, one returned for a touchdown and the other inside the 5-yard line that staked Arizona to a 21-7 halftime advantage. Stafford stared down Tony Scheffler where the safety was able to break in front of the receiver and he overthrew Calvin Johnson on a double move on the two turnovers. It was apparent that Stafford was not comfortable throwing to targets other than Calvin Johnson throughout the game. He threw over the wrong shoulder to Tony Scheffler on a missed opportunity down the seam on one occasion and had some timing issues with Kris Durham as well. As the Lions trailed in the second half, they were prone to mistakes that killed their momentum on potential scoring drives. A rare gorgeous throw to an elevating Kris Durham in the end zone was wiped away with a delay of game penalty. The Lions' last attempt to get back into the game was thwarted by a horrible throw by Stafford at the goal line. It was between Scheffler running an out route and Durham on the fade route. The defensive back was the only player in the area playing the ball and took it the other way for a game-clinching touchdown return. Stafford was not able to benefit from garbage time in the closing minutes as the team punted with a little more than two minutes to play. In 11-of-14 games this season, Stafford has attempted 40+ passes and this was his lowest yardage total despite 50 passes. In addition, Stafford has thrown an interception in 10 games, including 8-of-10 since Detroit's bye week. The Falcons and Bears offer significant challenges despite both games being at home to close the season.
2012 Week 16 vs ATL (37 / 56 / 443 / 0 / 1 pass, 1 / 2 / 0 rush)
Matthew Stafford's frustrating 2012 campaign is almost over. When he wasn't peppering Calvin Johnson with targets, Stafford attempted to create plays with practice squad receivers. Detroit has a tendency to fall into early deficits, so Stafford's 56 pass attempts are indicative of this trend. Stafford was extremely efficient during the first half, nearly matching Matt Ryan by completing 15 of 19 passes for 181 yards. However, Stafford failed to find the end zone and faced a 21-6 deficit. Calvin Johnson was responsible for 117 first half yards, so Stafford continued to feed him the ball. After halftime, Stafford completed 10 of first 11 pass attempts and cut Atlanta's lead to five. Stafford made the necessary halftime adjustments and began working the middle of the field. Detroit moved Johnson into the slot and he began abusing undersized corners. However, Atlanta responded with a score of their own and Stafford began forcing the ball to Johnson. Asante Samuel intercepted an errant pass that effectively ended Detroit's comeback. During the fourth quarter, Stafford completed a 25-yard pass to Johnson which broke Jerry Rice's single season receiving record. Atlanta played soft zone coverage for the rest of the game, so Stafford completed numerous short check down passes. Joique Bell was the main beneficiary. All yards count, but Stafford padded his stats with over 100 'garbage time' passing yards. Matthew Stafford set an NFL record by throwing for 443 yards without registering a touchdown.
2012 Week 17 vs CHI (24 / 42 / 272 / 3 / 1 pass, 3 / 9 / 0 rush)
Stafford set an NFL record with 727 passing attempts for the season. He padded those stats with 42 more attempts in this game, but his turnovers are with ultimately cost the Lions the game. Late in the first quarter, while he was under pressure, Stafford held the ball too low and the Bears knocked it out of his hands. Julius Peppers recovered the fumble and Stafford made the tackle, saving a TD return touchdown. In the third quarter, Stafford was in shotgun and tried to hand the ball off to Mikel Leshoure but the ball was too nigh and Leshoure didn't receive it properly. The Bears recovered there too. The Bears scored 10 points off both of those turnovers. The Interception that Stafford threw was just a bad play - where Stafford was under pressure and just threw up a pass toward Tony Scheffler down the left sideline. The ball was well overthrown and Tim Jennings easily made the interception. He ran it back for 31 yards and the Bears had another three points off that turnover as well. But Stafford kept plugging away, and his three TD passes in the final 30:20 seconds were good throws. At the end of the second quarter, Stafford found Kris Durham in a nice slot down the left side of the field for a 25 yard TD catch to bring the Lions to within 10 points just before half time. On their opening drive of the third quarter, Stafford found Will Heller in the end zone on a 10 yard square in that pulled the Lions to within three points. Late in the 4th, Stafford made two key throws to Brian Robiskie and it brought Detroit to within a field goal of pulling an upset. However, he was unable to get anything going after the Lions got the ball back and the Lions eventually lost the game. To his credit, Stafford avoided locking into Calvin Johnson like he has been known to do at different points this season. In fact, Calvin had just one target in the 4th quarter, and Stafford targeted five other guys as he tried to bring the Lions back for a come-from-behind victory. It will be interesting to see how well he can play next season if the Lions can get any solid help for Calvin Johnson on the other side of the field.
2011 Week 1 vs TB (24 / 33 / 305 / 3 / 1 pass, 1 / 0 / 0 rush)
Stafford put up some unreal stats in the pre-season, and many wondered if he was going to able to keep the same pace in the regular season. It's safe to say that that Stafford is for real and he's going to be a dangerous fantasy QB this season. He maintained his poise, even after throwing a pick-six early in the game. The interception was a tipped pass to Will Heller that was picked off and returned for a TD. However, Stafford stayed focused and led his team back to the end zone three times. His first TD pass to Calvin Johnson was a beautiful rainbow over two defenders into Megatron's waiting arms. Johnson strolled into the end zone for an easy score. His second TD pass was on a roll out to the right side, where he was able to thread the needle between three defenders to find Tony Scheffler for the TD. For the third TD, Stafford went back to Megatron on a jump ball near the side of the end zone. Stafford threw the ball high enough where only Johnson could come down with it and his favorite target did not disappoint. Perhaps the best news for fantasy owners though was Stafford's willingness to stay in the pocket and work his receivers rather than take off running and risk serious injury. If Stafford can maintain this poise throughout the season, he could become one of the top fantasy QBS in the league.
2011 Week 2 vs KC (23 / 39 / 294 / 4 / 1 pass, 1 / 1 / 0 rush)
On the opening drive Stafford hit and completed his 1st four pass attempts of the game. Everything was flowing and then he saw a heavy rush from the Chiefs and made a poor decision that almost cost the Lions the ball at midfield but fortunately for Stafford, the defender John McGraw fumbled the ball shortly after he intercepted it and Tony Scheffler recovered the football. That could have switched the momentum of the game early. Stafford was accurate but it should be noted that he was not throwing the ball down field much. You don't have to in the NFL and the game has evolved so that short passing games have taken the place of a lot of runs but Stafford was benefting form dumping the ball of or connecting on short passes and allowing his receivers and backs to make plays after the catch. That's a nice luxury that Stafford has with guys like Calvin Johnson and Jahvid Best. Early on he benefited from 2 personal foul calls on the opening drive and also a roughing the punter call which put him and the offense right back on the field. He also had several 3 and outs in the early part of the game. Now Stafford did start making some down field throws once the Lions got up 14-3. And that's seems like good coaching because the reality is that while Stafford is in year 3 as an NFL QB, he only has about 15 starts under his belt so the coaches do a fantastic job of putting him in good situations and keeping him out of harm's way. he still does not have a great OL and he does move around to make plays because of the pass rush. Once he settles in for the afternoon though he can tear the defenses apart. He did a nice job of making sure his skill position supporting cast had maximum opportunities to cash in and they did. Stafford looks good but this writer doesn't put him in the top10 yet in the NFL. He is however a potential top10 fantasy QB on just about any week right now. The Lions are not a great smash mouth run team so they are going to take ot the air which means big things for Stafford owners.
2011 Week 3 vs MIN (32 / 46 / 378 / 2 / 0 pass, 1 / -1 / 0 rush)
This game was a tale of two halves for everyone involved, but no one enjoyed the second half more than Matthew Stafford. After a brutal first half in which Stafford was sacked twice after being untouched in his first 2 games of the 2011 season and found rhythm and timing very difficult to come by with his receivers, Stafford lit up the Vikings in the second half, bringing the Lions back from down 20-0 at halftime for the overtime victory. For the first 30 minutes, the Lions' offense did not look like the well-oiled machine it was in weeks 1 and 2; finding little running room and even less time to throw under the relentless pressure of the Vikings' defensive front. After a forgettable first quarter that produced a pair of 3 and outs, the Lions adjusted the gameplan in an attempt to slow the pass rush and create space for playmakers by going to more quick-hitting pass plays, screens, and draws almost exclusively from the shotgun. However, the timing was still lacking through the second quarter that saw a few decent drives stall around midfield. Stafford and the Lions' staff really showed what makes this team a contender in the NFC North after halftime, though, as they exploited the holes in the middle of the secondary, primarily to Brandon Pettigrew. Stafford also found ways to negate the rush by using the screen, including his longest pass play--a 60-yarder to Jahvid Best to end the 3rd quarter. Then, when it came time to deliver the knockout punch, Stafford found his favorite big play target, 6'5" Calvin Johnson, who hauled in both of Staffords TD's and the all-important 40-yarder that set up the game winning FG in overtime. The composure Stafford showed in the hostile environment of the Metrodome and under the constant pressure by Jared Allen and company was impressive as the Lions kept pace with the defending Super Bowl champion Packers at 3-0 to start the season.
2011 Week 4 vs DAL (21 / 43 / 240 / 2 / 1 pass, 1 / -1 / 0 rush)
Stafford did not look especially sharp in this game, yet he still managed to keep his team focused and lead them to victory when the defense created the opportunities. In the first half of the game, Stafford and the Lions were unable to get any rhythm going. It wasn't until the defense returned two interceptions for TDS that the Detroit offense finally work up and got back into the game. After the final Dallas Field goal made it 30-17, Stafford got the ball for only the second time in the second half and went to work with 37 seconds left in the third quarter. Stafford opened up by hitting Brandon Pettigrew down the middle of the field for a bit 22 yard gain. To start the 4th quarter, Stafford hit Titus Young with two consecutive passes before finding Megatron in the end zone. Stafford threw a perfect 'jump ball' and Calvin out battled two guys to come down with the big reception. When the Cowboys turned the ball over for the final time, and Stafford had a chance to win the game, he calmly marched his team down the field, and with first and goal from the one and less than two minutes to play, he threw another jump ball for Calvin to come down with, giving the Lions another come from behind victory. For the game, Stafford struggled. The defense was relentless and he took a lot of hard shots. He frequently dumped the ball or threw it away to avoid the pressure. He can be rattled. Had the defense not pulled them out in the third quarter, I'm not sure Stafford could have done it himself. However, when his team put him in a position to win, Stafford delivered. In the end, that's all that really counts.
2011 Week 5 vs CHI (19 / 26 / 219 / 2 / 1 pass, 1 / 1 / 0 rush)
His first pass of the night was off target to Nate Burleson in the flat. Stafford looked jittery early on. Later on the same drive he missed Burleson. Stafford also missed a streaking and wide open Titus Young running up the right sideline. It probably would not have gone all the way for a touchdown because the Bears Safety was still between Young and the end zone but it definitely would have been a long gain and set the Lions up in good field position. Once Julius Peppers left the game and Chicago could not rush the QB as easily, the Lions dialed up the long ball. His 1st touchdown of the night came early in the 2nd quarter where he found Calvin Johnson wide open flying to the end zone and Stafford put it on the money so that Calvin could catch it in stride. Great throw on the play. Next drive he overthrew Nate Burleson who had a step on the DB but Stafford could not hit him. Matt threw an interception before the half trying to force the ball to Calvin Johnson and it was an easy undercut play by D.J. Moore of the Bears. Stafford did not play all that well in the 1st half. Overall for the night he was effective when he needed to be and he cashed in on opportunities presented by the Bears defense. Also you might make note that late in the game with Detroit nursing a 21-13 lead, the coaching staff opted not to take a shot at the end zone with Calvin Johnson who has been unstoppable and decided to just run the ball a few times, then kick a field goal. Stafford was not on target the entire night and the coaching staff took no chances with a possible pass that could go the wrong way. Stafford did alright but he wasn't sensational either. He made a few big throws and also missed a few wide open receivers. What was a solid night for fantasy owners could have been a bigger night.
2011 Week 6 vs SF (28 / 50 / 293 / 2 / 0 pass, 1 / 9 / 0 rush)
Stafford's stat line is going to look good to his owners, but the reality is that it was a huge struggle getting to that level. The Detroit wide receivers had a very tough time getting open in the first half, forcing Stafford to check it down a great deal. The Detroit defensive front entered the game with the reputation for being aggressive and dangerous to the quarterback, but San Francisco proved to be just as intimidating. Stafford was under a lot of pressure and definitely didn't get into any sort of regular rhythm. He was whistled for a safety in the first half on a play where the defenders were right in front of him. He just kept drifting back into the end zone until it was too late, and by the time he tried to flip the ball away it was already a safety. Soon after, he threw a pass that was intended for either Nate Burleson or Titus Young, but instead was thrown right into the hands of a defender. The only reason it wasn't a turnover is because it was dropped despite hitting the defender right in the hands. Stafford did a somewhat better job in the second half, and not coincidentally that was when he started looking in Calvin Johnson's direction more frequently. On Stafford's first eight red zone passes, not one of them went in Johnson's direction (including three in a row from the San Francisco six yard line). It wouldn't be a problem if others were scoring, but they weren't having much success with the others yet still stayed away from Johnson for a long time. When Stafford finally did have a chance to connect with Johnson for a long gain in one on one coverage, the ball was thrown out of bounds. Had it been kept on the field of play, there's a good chance it would have been a 40+ yard play. For most of the second half, he didn't look very comfortable. Their two minute drill at the end of the first half left a lot to be desired, but the one at the end of the game was downright pathetic. They got the ball with just over a minute left and no timeouts and proceeded to go almost nowhere. Stafford held the ball way too long on first down and was sacked, then took an extremely long time to set the next play (which knocked about 25 seconds off the clock from snap to snap). Stafford then completed a dump-off over the middle that did more harm than good on second down, and a short pass over the middle on third down that went nowhere to end the game. A lot of credit is owed to the Niners defense, but Detroit didn't help itself with some curious play from its leader.
2011 Week 7 vs ATL (15 / 32 / 183 / 1 / 0 pass, 0 / 0 / 0 rush)
Matt Stafford had a very erratic game and there was no sense of continuity in the passing game. Stafford was very skittish at times and reacted poorly to pressure. He seemed to panic at the sign of any pressure coming his way and threw many uncatchable passes as a result. In the first half he got sacked, looked uncomfortable and had passes batted down. Stafford almost had an interception in the end zone as his WR stopped his route after Stafford threw the ball and the DB was not able to come up with the pick. Stafford leaned heavily on WR Calvin Johnson when he needed to make a play to get Detroit back into this game. Stafford found Johnson on a lot of short passes that kept drives alive and really wanted to get the ball to his playmaker. Stafford did underthrow Johnson deep on one occasion and threw behind him on a slant pattern in the red zone however. On his only touchdown, he simply fired the pass to Johnson and his WR broke tackles and did the work as he scored for his team. It seems that Stafford cannot function properly when he cannot get the ball to Calvin Johnson and there is a lack of a legitimate weapon elsewhere on this team which is leading to inconsistent play by the DET QB.
2011 Week 8 vs DEN (21 / 30 / 267 / 3 / 0 pass, 1 / 21 / 0 rush)
Stafford was questionable for most of the week, but he didn't look like he was hampered in any way as he led the Lions to a big victory over the Broncos in Denver. Stafford frequently lineup up in the shotgun, most likely to avoid the unnecessary pressure on his ankle, but he didn't show any signs of having mobility problems as he frequently moved around the pocket and his 21 yard run was longer than anything from Tim Tebow. On that play, Stafford was under pressure, and took off up the middle. The defense was focused on stopping Calvin and Titus Young, and it took a second for them to chase him down. When Stafford slid, he took a hit to the back of the helmet and drew another 15 yard unnecessary roughness penalty, turning it into a big 36 yard play. Stafford had three TDS on the day. The first was to a wide open Titus Young who found himself all alone in the end zone when the defensive coverage broke down. The second was a short roll out where the defense lost track of Tony Scheffler and Stafford flipped him the ball for an easy score. The final one was to his favorite target - Calvin Johnson. When the defense jumped off side, it seemed like everything slowed down as people were expecting a whistle. However, Johnson continues the play and sprinted into the open field behind the defensive secondary. Stafford threw off his back foot and hit Johnson on a perfect pass. He coasted into the end zone for a big 56 yard TD that basically put the game away for the Lions. Stafford sat out the 4th quarter and should be fine for their next game after the bye week. While he seemed to struggle at times, throwing off his back foot more than you'd expect, it may have been due to the ankle injury. While it may be something to keep an eye on, Stafford was clearly in command in this game, and the Lions put it away early, and iced it with some big help from their defense in the second half.
2011 Week 10 vs CHI (33 / 63 / 329 / 1 / 4 pass, 2 / 1 / 0 rush)
To say that Stafford struggled in this game would be like saying Greece and Italy are experiencing minor financial corrections. The Lions came into this game leading the league with the fewest turnovers and Stafford had not thrown an interception in the second half all season. In this game though, he set a franchise record with 63 pass attempts and threw four interceptions in the second half, including two that were returned for touchdowns on back to back series. Stafford played the entire game with special gloves that were designed to protect his hands from the weather. However, the temperature was in the 60's and it did not rain. After the game, Stafford said he had a broken finger, so that may have accounted for some of his poor performance. Stafford frequently missed receivers with passes thrown behind them or passes that did not have the proper arch. He frequently threw off his back foot and sometimes his pass was more of a side arm than over the top. His first interception was a sideline route to Tony Scheffler, but they were not on the same page and the ball was thrown way behind Scheffler and easily returned for a TD. On the second, Stafford stared at Calvin Johnson the entire time, and tried to force the ball into him. On his third, Stafford tried to his Davis on a quick slant route but the defender made a play and it was picked off. Stafford chased him down the field and when D.J. Moore tried to Block Stafford, he grabbed him by the helmet and flung him to the ground. Moore retaliated and a brawl broke out with Moore being ejected. The final one was another case where Stafford tried to force the ball into Calvin Johnson who was triple covered in the end zone. Even on the TD pass to Tony Scheffler almost didn't happen because on the three previous passes the ball was either thrown too high to Brandon Pettigrew or Scheffler, or was batted down and nearly picked off. Scheffler did have a nice grab on the TD though, and it put a small bow on an otherwise terrible day.
2011 Week 11 vs CAR (28 / 36 / 335 / 5 / 2 pass, 4 / 2 / 0 rush)
Matthew Stafford's five touchdown performance started off in shaky fashion as the Lions offense struggled to move the football and turned the ball over twice in the early stages. On his first pick, Stafford failed to see LB James Anderson in the middle of the field and forced a pass. On his second, on a deep pass intended for Calvin Johnson, the ball was tipped and landed in the safety's hands. Stafford quickly recovered from his funk, resorting to more short passes and showing no ill-effects from his finger injury. Stafford hit Titus Young on a quick slant in the red zone for his first score. He also threw a screen pass to Kevin Smith, who did the rest to get into the end zone. Stafford's touchdown passes were all in the short to intermediate range, but what stood out was how accurately he delivered the football and how easy it was for his receivers to catch them. This is the second five touchdown performance for Stafford this season, who is a top ten play at quarterback going forward as long as this finger injury remains a non-issue.
2011 Week 12 vs GB (32 / 45 / 276 / 1 / 3 pass, 4 / 31 / 0 rush)
Matthew Stafford struggled again for Detroit, and although the Lions dominated the game in Time Of Possession in the first half, they were unable to put any points on the board due to stupid penalties and turnovers. In the second half, when Stafford really fell apart, the Packers were able to capitalize and burry the Lions with an easy victory. Of Stafford's 276 yards passing, over 110 of it came with the Lions down 24-0, when Green Bay was basically just preventing the big play. The TD pass to Calvin Johnson was absolute garbage time, when the game was over, and the Lions were just running out the clock. 16 of Stafford's 32 completions were check downs to a running back. But perhaps the biggest crime that Stafford committed was trying to force the ball into Brandon Pettigrew because Calvin Johnson was covered most of the day. All three of Stafford's interceptions came on pass attempts to Pettigrew, and all three lead to Green Bay scoring drives. Despite constant re-assurance that his broken finger is not bothering him, it's clear that Stafford is not the same QB he was as the beginning of the season, and the Lions are suffering because of it. The constant injuries to the Detroit RB corps doesn't help.
2011 Week 13 vs NO (31 / 44 / 408 / 1 / 1 pass, 0 / 0 / 0 rush)
Stafford was tremendous in the second half. He had over 400 yards and threw strike after strike all game long. He had a rough start and his team got in a hole, but he looked really comfortable throwing the ball and the Saints cornerbacks had no answers for his arm. Unfortunately for Stafford, his team continued to make mistakes and penalties and stop the progress. Stafford spent the early part of the game throwing to his rb's a significant portion of the time. Then he started hitting the receivers facing single coverage and finally he started using Calvin later in the game. But by that time the game was almost out of reach. The one thing you'd like to see is more deep balls to Calvin Johnson, but the Saints seemed to be blanketing him early and often. Stafford did have a wide open Titus Young towards the end of the second half with less than 15 seconds left. Somehow Young got behind the defense, and Stafford hit him for a long reception, but a better throw would have been an easy TD. Staffords numbers were without question bolstered a bit by the fact that they were behind much of the game, but he still looked very good throwing the ball. He's going to need to play that well to have any chance at getting a playoff spot.
2011 Week 14 vs MIN (20 / 29 / 227 / 2 / 0 pass, 2 / 4 / 0 rush)
The Lions jumped out to an early lead, largely thanks to strong defensive plays that led to two defensive TDS within the first 18 minutes of the game. Stafford also added the 57 yard TD bomb to Titus Young and the 12 yard TD corner route to Brandon Pettigrew and Stafford's biggest task was just to keep the clock moving. Both TD passes were perfect drops, and with the glove officially off, it's clear that Stafford has his passing accuracy back. He finished the first quarter with 128 passing yards and 2 TDS, and could probably have really lit the Vikings up for the day, but Stafford only had to manage the game after that, and keep the Lions moving down the field and the clock running. His big play target of the day was Titus Young, and he hit young for two 25+ yard passes, including the 57 yard TD pass. He also found Brandon Pettigrew on several key plays in the first quarter to set up the big lead and keep Detroit out in front. As the game wore on, Stafford didn't try to do too much, keeping the passes short and focusing on playing mistake-free football. He spread the ball around to seven different receivers for the entire day, and didn't really get Calvin Johnson involved much in the offense either. With Johnson double covered for most of the day, Stafford used Titus Young and Brandon Pettigrew to beat Minnesota. He's definitely back to full strength and has the Lions back on a playoff track. If they can keep defenses honest with some sort of running game, Stafford is going to be a nice sleeper down the stretch.
2011 Week 15 vs OAK (29 / 52 / 391 / 4 / 0 pass, 1 / 5 / 0 rush)
First thing you should know is that the Lions had about 10 dropped passes in this game. It was pretty bad and Stafford could have thrown for 450-500 yard if everyone would have hung on to the ball but he still managed to tear Oakland apart and please his owners this weekend for those that had to start him. Stafford started and ended this party with connections to Calvin Johnson. He also added a couple more passing touchdowns to some of his other receivers. The Lions inability to run the football meant the majority of the offense was going to channel thru Stafford and the passing game. Stafford made a nice red to hook up with Nate Burleson before the end of the 1st half to even things up 14-14. He was at his lowest point in the football game when he fumbled on a sack deep in his own territory to allow Oakland to move ahead 27-14 with about 7-8 minutes left int he game. A lot of QBs could have folded at that point but Stafford went right back on the field and mounted a furious comeback hitting whatever the defense would give him and working Burleson and Young away from Calvin to pull within 27-21. On the last drive to take the lead 28-27 and win the game, Stafford found Calvin several times n big pass plays culminating with the touchdown and victory. Stafford showed great leadership today.
2011 Week 16 vs SD (29 / 36 / 373 / 3 / 0 pass, 2 / 5 / 0 rush)
Stafford played about as well as any quarterback has played in any game the entire season. He completed over 80% of his passes, threw three touchdowns (it likely would have been more except Detroit didn't need to really throw the ball much in the second half), and did all of this despite Calvin Johnson only catching four of those passes. The game opened with a bang, as Stafford hooked up with Johnson for a 46-yard bomb on their very first offensive play. The ball was actually a bit underthrown, but it was where it needed to be for Johnson to catch it. He was the only one who made the adjustment to go and get it. Later on that drive, Stafford fired a bullet low and to the right of TE Brandon Pettigrew, again a tough catch but again the only place it could be for his receiver to make the catch. That resulted in the first score for the Lions. It would soon become apparent that it was going to be a great day for the Detroit passing game. Stafford got loads of time and was firing strikes all over the field. And on the rare occasions he was under pressure, he did a great job of eluding it. On one play in particular, Stafford seemed like he was about to be sacked. Instead, he rolled to his left, flung one across his body about fifty yards in the air downfield to Johnson, and very nearly connected on a long score. The ball was knocked away at the last moment, but the Lions were clearly showing they were in attack mode. And the QB was rewarded with his strong play by tossing two more first half touchdown passes, one a short toss in the flat to RB Kevin Smith and the other a bullet to Johnson up the right sideline. He was simply picking the Chargers apart, and by the end of the first half he had put up 260 passing yards and converted 7-8 third down conversions. In the second half, despite the Chargers seemingly grabbing some momentum late in the third quarter, Stafford directed a terrific response drive to move the Lions quickly downfield with a couple of big pass plays and get Detroit back on the board. In doing so, he compiled the eights 300-yard passing game of his career which amazingly ties Scott Mitchell for the most all-time in Lions history.
2011 Week 17 vs GB (36 / 59 / 520 / 5 / 2 pass, 0 / 0 / 0 rush)
Stafford capped off his best season as a pro with a 520 yard, five TD performance against the #1 seed in the NFC. The Lions needed this game to avoid having to play the Red Hot New Orleans Saints, and Stafford put them in a great position to win, scoring the 'go-ahead' TD on a perfect pass to Tony Scheffler with under three minutes to play. Unfortunately it wasn't enough, and the Lions ended the game with Stafford trying to force the ball into Nate Burleson for his second interception of the day. Stafford's favorite target was obviously Calvin Johnson, and Johnson came up with big receptions again and again. Despite a couple back foot throws that are somewhat typical of Stafford, he was sharp throughout the game. His final TD pass to Tony Scheffler was a laser pass between three defenders where Scheffler made a perfect catch. He also found Calvin Johnson for a TD and Titus Young for two TDS. Stafford had a great game and deserves all the credit that a 5000 yard season should warrant. He finished as the #4 fantasy QB in a season where guys like Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees re-defined the QB position. That's definitely saying a lot.
2011 Week 18 vs NO (28 / 43 / 380 / 3 / 2 pass, 2 / 1 / 1 rush)
Matthew Stafford's first playoff appearance was very impressive but he just didn't get the support from his defense that he needed. Stafford leaned heavily on superstar WR Calvin Johnson as the running game almost nonexistent and DET lacks a consistently productive #2 option in this offense. Stafford was incredibly poised, stood tall in the pocket and delivered accurate strikes over the field. The much talked and discussed offensive line of Detroit played extremely well considering DET was passing almost exclusively. Stafford had more than enough time against the blitz happy tactics of DC Gregg Williams. Stafford began the scoring with a bang, pushing the ball down toward the endzone fast and getting the ball to TE Heller on a simple go pattern in the redzone as he was left alone at the line of scrimmage. Stafford focused his efforts on getting the ball to Calvin Johnson, despite the defenses efforts to limit his production. Stafford was able to get the ball to Johnson by throwing it up high where only WR Johnson could get it and away from smaller DB's for New Orleans. Stafford kept the pressure on by "throwing open" WR Johnson in the endzone as Johnson split two defenders and leaped up in the air while turning to haul in the touchdown catch. He was also able to find WR Young deep down the field but it was slightly overthrown and Young could not make the catch. Stafford was looking for the 1 on 1 match ups all game and connected on a Hail Mary effort to WR Johnson who made a great adjustment to the ball to bring it in. He then executed a bootleg run to the pilon and just got inside the pilon for the rushing touchdown. Stafford tried another Hail Mary pass in single coverage with WR Young down the field but he fell over and the pass was underthrown which led to an easy INT for New Orleans. Stafford threw another interception late in the game as DET fell behind and felt pressured to make a play, not seeing the CB who was sitting on the underneath route and picked it off easily. Matthew Stafford truly relied on Johnson too much, often throwing it to him in double or triple coverage and getting away with it as he threw high passes for his gigantic WR to pluck out of the air. However, Stafford lacks a trusted and productive #2 target in this offense and the defense didn't help him out either as they gave up 45 points.
2010 Week 1 vs CHI (11 / 15 / 83 / 0 / 0 pass, 0 / 0 / 0 rush)
Stafford looked sharp in the opening moments of this game, showing patience to take what the defense was giving him. He took advantage of his new TE, Tony Scheffler and checked down to him for short gains a few times. He had one deep shot to Calvin Johnson late in the first quarter, but Megatron was forced out of bounds and the pass went incomplete. The Lions tried to run the ball more with Best leading the charge and supplementing with short passes from Stafford to keep the chains moving. Late in the second quarter, Stafford took a hard sack from Julius Peppers and injured his shoulder. He left the game and did not return. He will undergo tests early this week and could be out for another 3-4 games.
2010 Week 8 vs WAS (26 / 45 / 212 / 4 / 1 pass, 0 / 0 / 0 rush)
Stafford started off in this game slowly and displayed some rust in certain throws. He was picked by Hall in the endzone on a low ball that could have easily been a touchdown to C. Johnson if it was thrown a little higher. Stafford also missed Calvin Johnson deep, but woefully underthrew his target who had the safety easily beaten for a sure touchdown. He had one touchdown to Pettigrew over the middle in which he got lucky and was given a new set of downs to work with as the Redskins committed a penalty on a field goal attempt. Stafford's greatest asset on the day however was clearly his favourite target in Calvin Johnson. He threw so many passes to him on deep dig routes and seam catches for first downs and routinely tormented the Redskins secondary which never found an answer for him. Stafford is a clutch player however, converting many third downs and even a 4th and 1 through the air to Johnson and looked much more comfortable and on target with his throws as he progressed through the game.
2010 Week 9 vs NYJ (20 / 36 / 240 / 2 / 0 pass, 4 / 11 / 1 rush)
Matt Stafford once again showed everything you want in a starting franchise quarterback and one thing you don't. For much of the game, Stafford was sharp throwing accurate passes with a nice amount of zip on them and he often found open space to throw to in the middle of the field. A great example of all three things came on his first touchdown, thrown to Brandon Pettigrew on a short slant. Pettigrew had the inside slot against Safety Jim Leonard. But Stafford hit him perfectly in stride and right as he hit the end zone. Stafford also showed that he wasn't worried about scrambling post shoulder injury as he had a very nice run for nine yards late in the second quarter and slid just short of the first down. Stafford also ran a perfect playaction fake (with the help of a great sell by Jahvid Best) where he faked a hand-off to Best and then bootlegged to the right, running untouched into the end zone. But then all of that gets forgotten when Stafford once again leaves a game early due to a shoulder injury. Late in the fourth and backed up in his end zone, Stafford broke from the pocket to buy a little more time and perhaps get a first. Instead he was caught from behind and when he fell, fell on his recently injured shoulder. He left the game and did not return. Truth be told,. Stafford was often seen wincing in pain and holding himself awkwardly. He definitely has the tools to be a big time quarterback in the NFL. However, all that skill won't do him any good if he keeps ending up hurt. Leaving the game hurt the Lions, who could not burn enough time off the clock to prevent the Jets from tying the game and sending it into overtime where the team lost.
2009 Week 1 vs NO (16 / 37 / 205 / 0 / 3 pass, 2 / 0 / 1 rush)
Stafford was down two touchdowns after having taken only three snaps from center, a tall order against a veteran defense led by an aggressive coordinator. Stafford did show a strong arm and good accuracy early, hitting Calvin Johnson in stride on a quick hitter then showing good balance and touch on a screen to Kevin Smith. Things began to come apart as the Saints turned up the pressure, however, and Stafford began to throw off his back foot and rush throws on timing patterns during the second quarter. Stafford's footwork and mechanics completely came apart in the second half. His accuracy suffered as a result, overthowing sideline passes and leaving deep passes short of their mark or behind their intended receivers. He would be intercepted three times and nearly picked on a number of others.
2009 Week 2 vs MIN (18 / 30 / 152 / 1 / 2 pass, 1 / 7 / 0 rush)
For the young QB, it was almost like there were two different games. In the first half, Stafford looked poised and in control. He made solid throws and led the Lions on several solid drives. He missed Calvin Johnson in the end zone early, but in general was solid and in control. He had a nice run after being flushed from the pocket in the second quarter where he stretched and almost got the first down. His interception in the second quarter was a rookie mistake where he rolled out and tried to force the ball in rather than throw it away. He had a similar play later in the game and threw the ball out of bounds, proving he learns from his mistakes. In the second half, Stafford was clearly out of sync with his team. He had several bad throws and missed a wide open Bryant Johnson late in the 4th quarter that could have gotten the Lions back in the game. His second interception was a bad throw when he tried to force the ball into Brandon Pettigrew after being pressured. Another rookie mistake. In the second half, Stafford did have some solid throws, but he was not nearly as sharp as he was in the first half and the quick scores by the Vikings after the turnovers clearly upset him.
2009 Week 3 vs WAS (21 / 36 / 241 / 1 / 0 pass, 2 / 23 / 0 rush)
Stafford has his best game as a pro, and it led to the Lions' first win in 20 games. Many of the rookie mistakes that he made last week were not present this week against the Redskins. He didn't force the ball into coverage as he has done earlier this season, and he used his legs to roll out and create more time when he was under pressure. His primary target was Bryant Johnson, a guy who was a complete non-factor last week, and when the offense was sputtering in the second half, he didn't lose focus and kept the team in position to win. On their final position, when they had to keep the clock rolling, Stafford executed a perfect run fake and hit backup TE Will Heller on an outside corner route for 24 yards and kept the drive alive. Stafford didn't play like a rookie in this game and he was a big factor in why the Lions are on a winning streak now.
2009 Week 4 vs CHI (24 / 36 / 296 / 1 / 1 pass, 2 / 20 / 0 rush)
Stafford put up respectable numbers against Chicago, keeping the Lions in the Week 4 game against Chicago throughout the first half. Stafford racked up 221 yards in the first half on 23 attempts, moving the ball well and keeping pace with Jay Cutler and Matt Forte pushing the totals higher on the scoreboard. Stafford could have had an even bigger day but his accuracy leaves something to be desired. His receivers were open on most every attempt, but it was Stafford's errant throws (often too high) that cost Detroit the completion. Late in the game, Stafford was sacked and his knee folded under him, forcing him to leave the game in favor of Daunte Culpepper. Stafford did not return to the game after the injury, but Detroit was likely just playing it safe as the game was already decided by the midpoint of the fourth quarter. It remains to be seen if he will be healthy enough to face Pittsburgh in Week 5.
2009 Week 8 vs STL (14 / 33 / 168 / 0 / 1 pass, 1 / 4 / 1 rush)
This was Stafford's first game back since he was injured in week four against the Bears. The rookie was clearly rusty in his return and looked out of sync for most of the game. It didn't help his cause that his #1 WR Calvin Johnson was inactive for the game. To help him get back into the swing of things, the Lions looked to run the ball early and often, focusing on runs and short passes to RBS on the first eight plays of the game. However, when he tried to go downfield, he hit Bryant Johnson on a nice outside corner and Johnson rewarded the solid throw by not securing the ball and it hit the ground incomplete. Johnson and #2 WR Dennis Northcutt continued to drop passes throughout the game, and it clearly hurt Stafford's performance. He spread the ball around between the three TEs and three RBs in an attempt to get the offense moving. Stafford looked solid on the one scoring drive early in the fourth quarter, and made a solid decision to pull the ball down and run with it for the score. However, for the rest of the fourth quarter, Stafford continued to struggle and was clearly out of sync with the receiving corps on the final series.
2009 Week 9 vs SEA (22 / 42 / 203 / 2 / 5 pass, 0 / 0 / 0 rush)
Stafford had a terrible game. Aside from the first quarter, when the Lions were playing well as a team, Stafford struggled and made poor decisions, costing his team any chance to hold on to the game. His first interception was tipped at the line, but the other four were just bad throws. In two cases, it looked as if he just threw a rainbow pass down the field, hoping his WR would come down with it rather than throwing a pass to a particular spot. He tried to force the ball into Bryant and Calvin Johnson, despite the fact that they were well covered for most of the game. He did manage to get his new #2 Casey Fitzsimmons into the game, but didn't really help because Fitzsimmons frequently stopped his routes short of the first down. By the end of the game, Stafford looked frustrated and dejected. He knew that Detroit could and should have won this game, but his mistakes cost them dearly.
2009 Week 10 vs MIN (29 / 51 / 224 / 1 / 0 pass, 4 / 28 / 0 rush)
Stafford played a good game considering he was running for his life for the entire game. He was pounded by constant blitzes and when he wasn't sacked, he was taking shots after he had released the passes. By the end of the game he looked shell shocked and exhausted. Several of his final passes were incomplete because they were too low and hit the turf several feet in front of the intended receiver. It's unfortunate because aside from that, and the dropped passes from his receiving corps, Stafford had a pretty good game. He found a way to get the ball to an obviously sub-par Calvin Johnson and showed renewed confidence in Dennis Northcutt in his return from the bench due to frequent dropped passes. Stafford checked down to his TE and RB much less in this game, and really tried to move the ball against a tough defense. The biggest concern for the Lions should be that if Stafford has to throw the ball 50 times a game for the rest of the season, he's going to be completely out of gas by week 17.
2009 Week 11 vs CLE (26 / 43 / 422 / 5 / 2 pass, 3 / 7 / 0 rush)
Stafford was inconsistent early, overthrowing a deep slant badly and trying to force a deep ball to Calvin Johnson into triple coverage that resulted in an interception. He settled down after the first quarter, finding Johnson and Brandon Pettigrew frequently for good gains. He showed a strong arm and was able to fit the ball into small windows, particularly on deep in routes to Johnson. His final touchdown pass was a laser into a tight zone to Pettigrew despite an injured non-throwing shoulder.
2009 Week 12 vs GB (20 / 43 / 213 / 1 / 4 pass, 3 / 21 / 0 rush)
Days after suffering a separated shoulder (his non-throwing shoulder), Matt Stafford took the field on Thanksgiving for the Lions. Stafford playing was a last minute decision; however you have to wonder if the Lions would have been better off starting Culpepper this week. He was under consistent pressure and his injury clearly affected the way he handled it. Stafford made quicker than usual decisions, attempted to avoid contact at all times, and as a result his mechanics suffered a bit. He threw 4 INT's in the game and showed average accuracy, this was due to him not setting his feet and throwing off his back foot often. Stafford managed to open the game with a quick strike TD to Calvin Johnson on a well thrown ball in the end zone. He should be commended for his toughness and leadership, but this was a poor outing for the rookie.
2009 Week 13 vs CIN (11 / 26 / 143 / 1 / 2 pass, 3 / -2 / 0 rush)
Stafford hit Calvin Johnson between two defenders on a deep post pattern with a nicely thrown ball in the first quarter. After that, he seemed to fight the injury to his non-throwing shoulder and accuracy for the rest of the afternoon. He was most successful on short passes to Johnson and his backs after the long pass play, while most of his timing and sideline routes to his secondary wide receiver targets were inaccurate and incomplete. After refusing to leave the game earlier in the second half after appearing to tweak his injured shoulder, Stafford left the game late in fourth quarter after being drilled into the ground after a pass.