Matthew Stafford knows the Detroit Lions must finish the game

DETROIT, MICHIGAN - SEPTEMBER 15: Matthew Stafford #9 of the Detroit Lions throws a fourth quarter touchdown while playing the Los Angeles Chargers at Ford Field on September 15, 2019 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
DETROIT, MICHIGAN - SEPTEMBER 15: Matthew Stafford #9 of the Detroit Lions throws a fourth quarter touchdown while playing the Los Angeles Chargers at Ford Field on September 15, 2019 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /

This Detroit Lions team still might not be playoff bound. But the win over the Chargers on Sunday goes a long way to show what is needed going forward.

The Detroit Lions win on Sunday over the Los Angeles Chargers felt great as a fan. It was the complete opposite of watching the team blow an 18-point lead to the Arizona Cardinals the week prior.

All to end up with that dreaded (and actually kind of ugly) mark in the third column of their record tally.

On Tuesday, quarterback Matthew Stafford did an interview on The Dan Patrick Show. And Stafford was pretty succinct when it came to the difference between the two disparate performances by his team so far this season (09-17-19, “Hour 3 – Matthew Stafford”):

"“Obviously Week One, we came away with a tie, which was unfortunate. I thought we played well. We just didn’t finish the game. And then this past week, I think it was a little bit of the opposite. We didn’t play as well, but we finished the game.”"

Video clip provided courtesy of AT&T AUDIENCE Network

It is tough to be a Detroit Lions fan at times. But, in this case, Stafford is being a bit modest about what happened this past Sunday. The Detroit Lions actually played quite well against a very good Chargers team.

Everyone has lined up to make excuses for the Los Angeles loss: like injuries, penalties, and a punter being forced into kicking duty (although that last one was all the Chargers doing). And those are just excuses. And they sound familiar to anyone that roots for the Honolulu Blue and Silver, as a way of justifying a bad loss.

The Lions played nowhere near perfectly against Los Angeles. But their execution late in the game was why they won. And that is the difference between winning and losing: execution down the stretch.

With the game against Arizona, the team simply stopped executing what they had done for three quarters. And the Cardinals took advantage of that, and made the Lions look terrible in the process. Detroit had the talent advantage in that game, but not what it took to finish off their opponent.

No excuses either. The Cardinals went out and executed when it mattered. That’s good football. And they did it with inferior talent.

This past week, Stafford had a rough third quarter with two big interceptions. But he showed poise when it came to a fourth down conversion to wide receiver Marvin Jones in the final quarter. And then he showed no fear with a perfectly thrown pass in a very small window to Kenny Golladay in the end zone for the go-ahead touchdown.

Late in the game, cornerback Darius Slay was questioned for all of the catches and yardage (8 receptions and 98 yards on 15 targets) given up to Los Angeles receiver Keenan Allen. But the rules favor the offense, and Slay wasn’t out of position.

And, by the way, Allen is a heck of a talent. So, he’s gonna make some plays. But the moment that quarterback Philip Rivers made a mistake, Slay came through with the interception.

This is what this team can be. It is why the tie to the Cardinals is so upsetting to watch. The Detroit Lions can beat good football teams – because they are a good football team. And when they lose to bad teams, it just makes everyone in the organization look awful.

This week, the match-up with the Philadelphia Eagles is another game against a talented team. They have more talent than the Lions, but the difference isn’t that significant. A win would go a long way to showing this team is developing into something special.

Yes, winning on Sunday is doubtful – especially because it is on the road. But, it really isn’t impossible (that word applies more aptly to the face-off with he Kansas City Chiefs in Week 4). And a win against the Eagles might even make a home win against the Chiefs seem within the realm of possibility. Okay, maybe not – that’s too far.

Beat the Eagles, and this team could truly be playoff bound. The worst thing to watch this Sunday would be a Philadelphia beat down of Detroit for four quarters. Keep the game close, and let your talent finish off the win. That is where this team is right now.

Next. The slightly too early Lions All-Decade Offense. dark

Eventually, you hope to become one of the elites. The great teams can get 12-win seasons without blinking an eye – because they can execute on every mistake. All the Detroit Lions need to do is continue getting better, and finish what they start.

The Dan Patrick Show airs daily at 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. ET on AT&T AUDIENCE Network which can be found on DIRECTV Ch. 23.