Friday, Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford turns 32 years old. And while that puts him amongst the league’s oldest starting quarterbacks, Stafford seemed to capture the fountain of youth last year, putting up some of his best career numbers before a freak back injury ended his 2019 season halfway through the year.
But seeing as it’s Stafford’s birthday, let’s put aside the current drama surrounding his future, and, instead, let’s celebrate his past. There may not be a ton of team accomplishments during the Stafford era, but the Lions franchise quarterback has been responsible for some of the most memorable moments in franchise history.
Let’s take today to remember some of the greatest ones.
2009: Matthew Stafford’s dislocated shoulder game-winning TD
No one needs a reminder of this game. In his rookie year, a jubilant and energetic Matthew Stafford was in a shootout with Browns quarterback Brady Quinn. After falling behind 24-3 to Cleveland, Detroit worked their way back into the game. The Lions needed a miracle drive, and when Stafford got driven into the ground on a failed Hail Mary, all hope seemed lost.
But as Stafford laid on the ground in agony, several flags landed on the field, giving the Lions one more chance.
Y’all know what happened next.
2011: The beginning of “Stafford Windows”
Okay, “Stafford Windows” never became a thing, but back in 2011, Lions fans got a sneak peek into what makes Stafford so special, and it was highlighted perfectly by this CBS crew. First, Matt Cassel tries to fit a ball into a tight window and fails miserably. The announcer takes him to task, saying he doesn’t have the arm strength to fit the ball in there like Matthew Stafford does.
ON THE VERY NEXT PLAY, Stafford threads the needle to Nate Burleson. Thus, “Stafford Windows” was born.
2013: Fake spike vs. Cowboys
Down 6. 1:02 remaining. No timeouts.
Matthew Stafford's sneaky touchdown against the Cowboys is a great mic'd up memory. pic.twitter.com/rrQBek9JJa— Brad Galli (@BradGalli) December 22, 2016
2014: Stafford slips ball to Theo Riddick for GW-TD vs. Dolphins
2014 was a thrilling season and one of the best in recent Lions history. But this drive by Stafford was a sign of things to come in his career. He hadn’t quite earned the reputation of Comeback King yet, but this final pass showed everything he was becoming capable of: His mobility, his incredible arm-angle throws, and his abilities to be clutch with the game on the line.
2016: Stafford comeback makes Skip Bayless look dumb
Kirk Cousins led Washington on a huge fourth-quarter comeback, taking a 17-13 lead with just over a minute left. National blowhard Skip Bayless believed the game was over, despite the fact that Detroit had three timeouts:
Kirk Cousins just pulled off another YOU LIKE THAT? Redskins rally from 13-3 down mid-4th to win in Detroit. Skins win. I'm impressed.— Skip Bayless (@RealSkipBayless) October 23, 2016
Matthew Stafford had other plans, and they included an incredible game-winning laser that just barely found its way past a few Washington defenders:
2016: Matthew Stafford truck stick
Happy birthday, Matthew Stafford. You should go bowling: pic.twitter.com/0Kz2UEfq7t— Pride of Detroit (@PrideOfDetroit) February 7, 2017
2016: 35 yards in 22 seconds + butt flip
In what would become Stafford’s most iconic season yet, his ability to mount a comeback seemed to grow week by week, despite the fact that the odds grew higher and higher.
Against the Vikings in Week 9, Stafford overcame the greatest of odds. Down three, 23 seconds left, no timeouts, starting on his own 25-yard line. Not only did Stafford get them into field goal position, but he gathered the team 30 yards down field in expert time to spike the ball and give Matt Prater the opportunity to send it to overtime.
#OnePride pic.twitter.com/RLos2G7AzA— Detroit Lions (@Lions) September 24, 2017
Of course, Prater succeeded, and then this happened:
2017: Stafford can catch, too
Before the Philly Special, there was the Detroit Special:
2-point trickery . #GBvsDET #OnePride— Detroit Lions (@Lions) December 31, 2017
Tate finds Stafford for the conversion. #NotATypo pic.twitter.com/sGKHFve4Xp
2019: Stafford splits 4 Chiefs for 6
No words necessary. Just watch:
Throw of the year so far in the #NFL ??— Dan Orlovsky (@danorlovsky7) October 2, 2019
Info+dead man walking=Stafford with a seed in the middle of 4 defenders.. @MikeOHaraNFL @PrideOfDetroit @kgxix @JalenRose @Lions fans like your QB can’t make these throws #NFLGamePass pic.twitter.com/U6h407AUDc
I’m sure I’ve missed plenty. Now share yours.