After years of falling short of the playoffs and never winning a playoff game as a Lion, Matthew Stafford exorcised somes ghosts of his past on Monday night.
When the Detroit Lions traded Matthew Stafford to the Los Angeles Rams last offseason, it was going to be a litmus test for the former No. 1 overall pick. After 12 mostly frustrating seasons as a Lion, and zero wins in three playoff games, would being on a better team (and having success) change how his career is viewed? Or would he fall short at the most important moments?
Going into Monday night’s Wild Card Round game against the Arizona Cardinals, Stafford clearly had the most career passing touchdowns without a playoff win in NFL history.
Stafford had some ups and down during the regular season, tying his career-high for touchdowns passes (41) and also throwing a tied for league-high 17 interceptions. But the Rams went 12-5 and won the NFC West to earn a home playoff game.
Matthew Stafford exercises ghosts of Lions’ (playoff) past
Lions fans will still say they beat the Dallas Cowboys in the 2014 postseason, but for some bad officiating (to put it mildly) that cost them the game. But the record shows Stafford was 0-3 in the playoffs as the Lions’ quarterback, with the “Stat Padford” nickname monkey to remain on his back until he won a playoff game.
The Rams’ defense came to play on Monday night, and the ground game was effective enough behind Sony Michel (13 carries for 58 yards) and Cam Akers (17 carries for 55 yards). But Stafford was efficient, going 13-for-17 for 202 yards and two touchdowns with a 154.5 passer rating. He also added a rushing touchdown (his first since the 2016 season) among his 22 rushing yards.
Stafford and the Rams will now travel to Tampa Bay to take on the Buccaneers in the Divisional Round. The Rams won the regular season matchup 34-24 in Los Angeles back in Week 3, as Stafford outdueled Tom Brady and threw for 343 yards and four touchdowns. The playoffs are different animal of course, so Stafford will have to show he can step up his game to take down the Super Bowl ring-clad G.O.A.T when it’s win or go home.