Monday, September 12, 2011

Matt Stafford Is a Hungry Man

Stop the presses in Detroit: Matthew Stafford's streak of consecutive starts is now longer than Peyton Manning!

Okay, I may be pushing the logic just a bit here, but it is technically true. And it isn't like I didn't have a scare in the second half of yesterday's game against Tampa Bay. Stafford fell backwards as he lobbed a touchdown pass to Calvin Johnson. As Stafford threw, he looked as though he tore or broke something in his right leg.

Everyone in Detroit took a collective groan, until we realized about a minute later it was a cramp that had resulted from playing in the 87 degree heat. One pan along the sidelines on each side told you how hot it was in Tampa Bay, with everyone sitting underneath cooling fans with wet towels over their heads. Stafford was not immune to this.

Stafford finished the day throwing for three TDs and over 300 yards with one INT. Although the Lions won 27-20, the game really wasn't that close. Detroit controlled both sides of the ball and had possession of the football for over 20 minutes of the first half.

What we saw yesterday was how much of a command of this offense (and the team maybe) that Stafford has. If not for a couple of mental mistakes by Stafford - a bad throw that was tipped and intercepted by Aqib Talib and another bad throw that went incomplete - they should have scored in the high 30s.

This game was a statement for both teams. Detroit showed that they are poised to make a run at the playoffs, but they're going to do it one game at a time. Tampa Bay, although they lost, they showed that they have a bright future with Josh Freeman, even if they take a step back this year.

The Lions weren't perfect. Stafford could have thrown more than one INT. A drop by Brandon Pettigrew cost the Lions a TD and they settled for a field goal in the first quarter. The killer miscue for the Lions came from RT Gosder Cherilus who drew a personal foul after pushing a Tampa Bay LB when the play was whistled dead. It cost the Lions a chance to burn another 40 seconds off the clock, and could have allowed the Bucs to come back and tie the score. Hopefully as the season drags on, players like Pettigrew will find their rhythm and Cherilus will find a way to play with a cooler head.

There is no question though. When Stafford is under center, this is a completely different team. Kudos to the offensive line who kept him upright and didn't give up a sack during the game.

He has the look of a man who has a lot to prove. He's now only started 14 of a possible 33 games, and there are those who still doubt he will play or even finish a whole season. While they may not be the first thing he wants to accomplish, it will stand out if he does or doesn't come January.


dmarks said...

And how things have changed since this post.

metrichead said...

God, (smh) I really need to start blogging again.

Hey, we're 9-5, the first winning season in 12 years. Around here, that's cause for a parade.