The no-look pass in the NFL was undoubtedly popularized by Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes. The world oooh’d and ahhh’d as Mahomes made precise passes while looking in a completely different direction. For most fans in amazement, it was the first time they’d seen anything like that. Hell, even NFL.com packaged the play as “unveiling” the no-look pass, like it was something Mahomes invented. Just google “NFL no-look pass” and see the Mahomes-dominated results.
It’s bold. It’s dangerous. It’s exciting—especially for a young MVP quarterback to be taking the league by storm like that.
But the truth is the no-look pass isn’t something Mahomes owns. Sure, he popularized it, but he’s far from the only one capable of it. And, quietly, Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford has been doing it for several weeks, as caught by The Athletic Denver’s Brandon Thron. First, there was this pass a few weeks ago against the Minnesota Vikings:
While the eye direction doesn’t do much to move Vikings defender Anthony Barr (#55), it’s still an incredibly impressive throw to hit Marvin Jones Jr. on the crosser directly in stride.
Then last week against the Oakland Raiders, Stafford did it twice:
2 more no look passes from Stafford in week 9 pic.twitter.com/7n9gbAzCPt— Brandon Thorn (@BrandonThornNFL) November 5, 2019
On the first, Stafford finds himself immediately under duress. But to keep Raiders linebacker Tahir Whitehead (#59) deep and give J.D. McKissic some running room on the check-down, Stafford keeps his eyes downfield. Whitehead is still dropping back when the pass is released and it gives McKissic room to pick up seven valuable yards on Detroit’s final drive of the game.
The second came just a few plays later—on that same final crucial drive of the game. Facing a third-and-10, Stafford gets solid protection from his front. He eventually has to slide a little to his right. Combine his body movement with his eyes, and it looks like he’s ready to check down to running back Ty Johnson:
But Stafford shows both amazing arm strength throwing against his body and amazing accuracy, again hitting Kenny Golladay perfectly in stride for a big 24-yard gain.
It wasn’t quite enough to get the win on Sunday, but for the quarterback to make those kind of big-time throws in big moments is vintage fourth-quarter Stafford. He’s been the one consistent on this team that is both playing at an extremely high level and is very fun to watch. Enjoy it while we can.