The Detroit Lions didn’t win on Sunday. Hell, they didn’t even come close.
But Matthew Stafford put up heroic effort and a valiant effort that did not go unnoticed. Dealing with a tremendously painful rib injury all week, it didn’t look like there was any realistic chance he’d play this week. And with the Lions’ playoff chances under one percent, there was even lesser reason for the Lions to trot him on there on Sunday afternoon.
Stafford, like he normally does, had different plans. If there’s even a chance he plays, he’s going to do everything he can to be out there on the field. Record be damned. Body be damned. He loves the game of football and hates letting his teammates down. Or, in his own words...
“Because I’m the quarterback of the Detroit Lions, and it was Sunday, and I got a bunch of teammates out there that worked their ass off and they fight to be available and fight to get out there and play and try and help us win and if there’s any way I can play, I’m never going to not, you know? It’s just I feel like I owe it to those guys. I owe it to the game. I owe it to this organization, everybody. If I’m good enough to play, healthy enough to play, my ass is going to be out there. So, I feel like I was good enough to play and that’s why I wanted to be out there.”
And while Stafford didn’t win the game, he put up an extremely impressive effort. He scored a 102.6 passer rating and a 92.1 QBR. He completed 7.3 percent of his passes over expectation. If his teammates weren’t turning the ball over or letting the Titans offense score at will, who knows what happens. Heck, the Lions were still in this game midway through the third quarter simply because of the way Stafford was slinging it.
It was the kind of performance that Stafford has been known for ever since his rookie season when he won a game with a separated shoulder against the Browns. And you have to imagine that’s the kind of attitude Chris Spielman and company are looking for when they say they’re trying to build a “Lions culture.”
And that attitude certainly didn’t go unnoticed in the Lions locker room. Several teammates went to social media to express their pride and admiration for Stafford. Here’s just a sampling:
Marvin Jones Jr.
Even a couple of former teammates chimed in:
No lies detected— Ty Johnson (@T_Johns6) December 21, 2020
Stafford is clearly loved and respected by his teammates. Whenever the new general manager and head coach take over this team, that’s something they’re going to have to seriously consider when making a decision on the quarterback’s future with the franchise.