The inevitable with Matthew Stafford took place Monday night
I knew it was going to happen. You knew it was going to happen. Heck, everyone knew it was going to happen. Matthew Stafford was going to win his first playoff game at some point. It wasn’t a matter of if, but only when.
That “when” and win, in this case, came on Monday night against the Arizona Cardinals.
Earlier in the day on The Morning Woodward Show, I stated my belief that the Los Angeles Rams would win. And my reasoning was because I felt Stafford had to (and would) play the game of his life. He had no choice. Anything less would have been unacceptable.
Because heading into his fourth playoff game of his career, Stafford was winless.
Well, ladies and gentlemen, he did exactly that. In the biggest game of his career, Stafford demonstrated three P’s: precision, poise, and punctuation.
His precision was on display with the lazers he threw all night. He, Odell Beckham Jr., and Cooper Kupp were in sync to make the Cardinals go “Bye Bye Bye”. His touchdown pass to OBJ was as good as it gets. He put the ball in the perfect spot where only Beckham Jr. could go and make a play.
Then there was his poise.
Heading into that game, Stafford ended the season with a brutal stretch. Over the last four games, he had eight touchdowns to eight interceptions. He wasn’t the same Stafford that was lights out to finish the season. In fact, he turned into the quarterback most remember in Detroit, finishing this season tying Trevor Lawrence for the most interceptions (17). That didn’t matter at all Monday night. Stafford has zero turnovers, and he was only sacked once.
Lastly, Matthew Stafford’s perfection was on display. He left his mark on his first playoff game (and win) with the Rams. After all, he had his hand in every offensive touchdown for the Rams. He went 13-for-17 for 202 yards and two touchdowns. Then he had six carries for 22 yards, and one touchdown. And the cherry on the sundae, he finished with a 154.5 passer rating.
He led an absolute clinic––one that Detroiters never witnessed during his time in Motown.
During his 12-year career with the Detroit Lions, Matthew Stafford only experienced the playoffs three times. His first was a blowout loss to the New Orleans Saints. The second was a controversial one against the Dallas Cowboys––a loss that players like Calvin Johnson, Darius Slay, and Joique Bell still have gripes about. And his last loss was against the Seattle Seahawks, a game in which he threw no touchdown passes.
Now, depending on whom you converse with, some will say Stafford was to blame for the Lions’ playoff woes. Personally, I don’t think that’s the case. However, I do feel he did play a part in them. He didn’t play particularly great in those games. After all, from the second quarter of the mentioned Cowboys games through the Seahawks one, Stafford went seven straight quarters without a touchdown.
So regardless of what side of the fence you’re on, until Monday, his lack of playoff success was a stain on his resume.
On Friday, I made an appearance on The BottomLine, where we preview Monday’s matchup. Ryan Ermanni and Tom Mazawey led a great discussion to preview the Rams-Cardinals matchup. When asked my thoughts on if Detroit wanted to see Matthew Stafford win, I used the ex-girlfriend/boyfriend analogy.
When your ex moves on, if you’re a good person, you want them to do well, but do you really want them to be happier with someone else than they were with you?
Absolutely not! Call that hating or whatever you want, but it’s true.
Stafford is the ex that moved on to greener pastures. In his first year with the Rams, he’s won his first divisional title and his first playoff game. No matter what happens the rest of these playoffs, he’s already experienced more success with the Rams in 12 months than he’s experienced in Detroit in 12 years. While it may hurt for some to read it, it’s true.
With the monkey now off his back, buckle up Detroit because Matthew Stafford isn’t done. In fact, it appears he’s just getting started.