Detroit Lions: The definitive Matthew Stafford clutch stat

Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images) /
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Game clock, two minute warning
Game clock, two minute warning. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) /

The Two Minute Efficiency Rating

With comebacks and game winning drives telling a sizable part of the story, but certainly with some flaws, it helps to have another metric to better define what a clutch end game quarterback is (and isn’t). For a more accurate look at Stafford’s late game performances, I’m taking what Richard Ball at The Landry Hat site calls ‘the two minute efficiency rating’ (2ER).

This isn’t an officially-tracked stat by the NFL or Pro Football Reference, and one I haven’t seen in this exact format before. But I like the way it’s laid out. In a recent article weighing in on Dak Prescott, Ball says this about it:

"“The metric charts the percentage of times a quarterback is successful in tying or taking the lead within the last two minutes of the fourth quarter. The metric does not factor whether the team wins or loses as a quarterback can’t be faulted for the defense giving up a subsequent score. The metric only considers what happens in the fourth quarter and does not include overtime results. This metric truly identifies quarterbacks who elevate their team when it matters most – the two-minute efficiency rating (2ER).”"

Using this as the criteria, I went back and tracked every single two-minute endgame scenario of Matthew Stafford’s eleven-year career to date. I’ve noted every time that Stafford had the ball in his hands with a chance to tie or take the lead in the final two minutes of a one possession game. It doesn’t matter where the clock was when the drive begins, as long as the Lions still had possession inside of the two minute warning.

Because it’s not an official stat, it would take several additional weeks to fully compare Stafford to his peers around the league, as well as historical counterparts.

However, in Richard Ball’s article, he compares the first four years of Dak Prescott’s career (with a 33% success rate) to Tom Brady (50%) and Patrick Mahomes (57% in limited chances) over the same stretch, and the final four seasons of Tony Romo’s career (47%). Ball suggests that an elite quarterback will be able to convert roughly half the time with the game on the line inside the final two minutes.

This formula isn’t perfect, but it does give a much clearer picture of clutch play at the end of a close game than either the ‘fourth quarter comeback’ or ‘game winning drive’ stats can. Where does Matthew Stafford stack up in this rating?