31. Finding a new favorite receiver (Sept. 10, 2017)
Kenny Golladay made quite an entrance in the 2017 season opener. After some preseason buzz built up around the 3rd round pick from Northern Illinois, Golladay lived up to the hype in a crazy span of about four minutes in the 4th quarter.
First, he hauled in a 10 yard jump ball to give the Lions their first lead of the game. A few minutes later on a bomb from Stafford, Golladay sprung past two defenders and soared into an all-out dive for an electrifying 45 yard touchdown to put a close game out of reach. In just two passes, it was clear that Stafford had found a replacement for Calvin Johnson, and a future star was born in ‘Babytron’.
32. Stafford the game manager (Sept. 18, 2017)
I think when Darrell Bevell was hired as offensive coordinator, this Monday Night Football showing from two years ago was what people had in mind for the offense. Stafford was coldly efficient, tossing two touchdown passes in the first half, making strong reads at the line of scrimmage, and then sitting back and letting the defense handle the rest.
15-21 passing, 2 TD and no picks, with a rating of 117.6. No crazy throws, no wild comebacks, but having the gunslinger try out the game manager role and be pretty good at that too was satisfying in its own way.
33. Color Rush bomb to Marvin Jones (Dec. 16, 2017)
This late season clash with the Bears was peculiar for a lot of reasons. It was a rare Saturday game, a just as rare 4:05 kickoff for a home game, and it was the first time wearing their all-silver Color Rush uniforms (which I’m not a huge fan of, but all things considered, they really aren’t too bad).
Badly needing a win to stay in the playoff race, Stafford must have pulled a page from a previous playbook, unloading the type of ultra-trusting heave that he normally only used with Calvin Johnson. Marvin Jones doesn’t have the height, strength, or even speed of prime Megatron, but on this leaping, double-pumping 58 yard grab, he showed off every inch of his impressive vertical jump to make possibly the catch of the year for the Lions and set up a touchdown a few plays later in the 20-10 win.
34. The two point conversion (Dec. 31, 2017)
After losing a stinker at Cincinnati the previous week, the Lions were out of playoff contention and forced to play out the season in a meaningless game against the Packers. In front of a disappointed but appreciative home crowd, the Lions rolled past Green Bay behind 323 yards and three passing touchdowns from Stafford.
To put the finishing touches on the season though, Detroit lined up for a two point conversion after their final touchdown. Already leading 33-11, Ameer Abdullah, Golden Tate, and Stafford ran a trick play reverse pass back to Stafford, completely fooling the defense and ending the year on a high note, with #9 on the receiving rather than throwing end of a score.
‘Meaningless’ as it was, this was a lot of fun to see, and probably the best executed play in the 2017 season, in the entire league. If you think I’m exaggerating, consider that a month later the Eagles copied the play step-by-step to help win the Super Bowl, completely fooling Matt Patricia in the process.