In Week 1, Matthew Stafford made a mistake that should have cost the Detroit Lions the game. Having already blown an 18-point lead against the Arizona Cardinals, Stafford was desperate to put that all behind the team, hoping to create one final big play and give Matt Prater a chance at a game-winning field goal in the waning seconds of overtime.
Instead, he fired a ball right into the hands of Cardinals veteran cornerback Tramaine Brock, who could’ve easily strolled into the end zone or jumped out of bounds to give Arizona the game-winning field goal attempt. Brock dropped it, though, and the game was essentially over.
It was a huge blunder from Stafford, but it would have been an uncharacteristic interception from the Lions quarterback.
Because right now, no quarterback has a longer current streak of passes without an interception:
Dating back to last season, @Lions QB Matthew Stafford has thrown 161 consecutive passes without an interception, the longest active streak in the @NFL.— Detroit Lions PR (@LionsPR) September 10, 2019
This also marks the 6th time he's had a streak of 150+ pass attempts without an interception.#OnePride pic.twitter.com/oWVphIxCet
That interception-less streak takes Stafford all the way back to Week 13 of the 2018 season, when Stafford threw a jump ball to Kenny Golladay down 14 points to the Rams with just 17 seconds left.
That isn’t to say Stafford has been perfect since then. He’s certainly thrown some other passes—like the one in Arizona—that could have had his team in real big trouble. But I think it’s important to point out that this kind of streak is not abnormal for Stafford. As the Lions PR Twitter account notes, this is the sixth time in his career he’s had a streak of 150 passes without an interception. In 2016, he played four consecutive games without throwing an interception. Same in 2017 and in 2018.
Stafford tends to get a bad rap about being a little careless with the ball. While I think his fumbles have something to do with that (he had one against the Cardinals in Week 1), I believe that narrative is a little unfair to Stafford. Any quarterback who has averaged over 38 passes per game is going to throw a lot of interceptions in his career.
But when you consider interceptions as a rate stat—as in, how many interceptions he throws per passing attempt—Stafford fares much better. Last year, Stafford was 14th best in interception percentage, the year before that 10th, and in 2016 he was 12th. Over the past five seasons, of quarterbacks with at least 400 passing attempts, Stafford is 13th in interception percentage—ahead of guys like Jared Goff, Patrick Mahomes, Deshaun Watson and Kirk Cousins.
So while interceptions will likely always be a part of Stafford’s game, he’s actually better than most starting quarterbacks at avoiding them.