With one giant leap, Matthew Stafford might have altered the course of the Detroit Lions, transforming them from that sad-sack franchise to a playoff team. That wasn’t your Same Old Lions out there yesterday, shocking the world. Everything was slipping away from them when the clock had a minute and twenty four seconds left, their playoff hopes circling the drain. Another season missing the playoffs would surely mean the end of Jim Schwartz’s head coaching career in Detroit, and possibly Martin Mayhew‘s also. Hell, my own brother bolted at that time himself.
Even though the Lions looked like they were going to get the ball back, it still appeared like a funeral was taking place at Ford Field. Then it happened: The play of the game. On a third and fourteen play, Cowboy tackle Tyron Smith thought he was on a wrestling show on WWE and took down Devin Taylor for a vicious pin. Hello yellow flag; thank you very much, Mr. Smith. That saved the Lions at least 40 seconds, and perhaps their season. Then Matthew Stafford went to work to create a legend.
We’ll get to Stafford in a minute. Let’s get to what’s getting to be a weekly thing around here: marveling and trying to come up with new words to describe how great Calvin Johnson is. The moniker “Megatron” doesn’t give him enough credit for his achievements. He needs a BIGGER name to describe his greatness. Superman is taken, so how about “Super Galactic Man”, because mere words diminish his actions. Feeling pushed into a corner by “Teammate of the Year” candidate Dez Bryant of the Cowboys, Johnson put on a show for the ages. He leaped and flew his way to 329 yards, the second most ever in an NFL game. Gee, I hate to see what the guy can do when he’s REALLY pissed off.
Matthew Stafford basically started the heroics with about 40 seconds left, when he delivered a perfect laser to Kris Durham for a 40 yard gain and out of bounds–remember-the Lions have no Time Outs left. The ball was so perfect that if Durham hadn’t raised his hands to catch it, it would have wedged itself in his facemask. Then another laser to Megatron for a 22 yard gainer that put them on the 6 inch line. The Lions race up to the line of scrimmage and panic, because Riley Reiff can’t be found. Where was he? He finally comes running into the picture and the deadly squeeze of the clock says 15 seconds…14 seconds…at this point, if we were “the same old Lions”, things would have happened as they always used to. Stafford assessed the situation and sold the Cowboys, the fans and everyone else watching, that he was going to spike the ball.
12 seconds… HE JUMPS. He just jumped, to the surprise of everyone on the planet, and made it. The cowboys got caught looking. The Gambler fooled them all. It shouldn’t be such a surprise to the NFL that he did this in that fashion. It’s the 10th time he’s had a 4th quarter comeback in his short career. This one was different though. You could see people’s minds working as they reassessed their opinions of Stafford-in their heads–right where they stood.
Make no mistake about the huge victory yesterday; it saved the Lions from becoming the Lions again. This was a turning point in Stafford’s career. He’s only now showing signs of just how good he can be. There’s a lot more left to discover about his game, and that’s a very good thing for the Lion’s fan. Megatron is Megatron; he’s already playng the position better than anyone in history, how much better can he possibly get? That’s a scary thought.
I can see Stafford gaining a lot of confidence from this victory, and making this his breakout year. As for my brother, and the fans who bailed early, don’t worry-there will be more where that came from.