Detroit Lions: Stafford Spares Own Blushes to Inspire Late Win

By Chris Machin

Quarterback Matthew Stafford executed a one-yard touchdown run with just 12 seconds left in regulation to lift the Detroit Lions to an improbable victory over the Dallas Cowboys, and in turn erase his own mistakes that appeared to have been so costly for so long in the game.

The Lions will be heralded for their game-winning drive that was formulated with just a minute left on the game clock and for the standout performances of their three-headed demon on offense: Stafford, wide receiver Calvin Johnson and running back Reggie Bush. The three combined for the bulk of the 623 total net yards, the 31 points and the 21 first downs achieved by the Lions on the day.

The traveling Cowboys had to withstand what was an offensive onslaught from their hosts for most of the game; the fact the Lions made a whopping 48 pass attempts is standard procedure with the Stafford-Johnson connection, though to run 29 rushing plays alongside is testament to what has the potential to be a very lethal but more importantly, balanced, offense. Statistics like these would — no, should — normally represent a totally lop-sided contest, though amazingly the Lions were trailing for most of the game and down by six up until the final minute of the contest.

Stafford completed 33 of his attempts for 488 passing yards and one touchdown. Bush, who has been a mixed bag since his summer move from the Miami Dolphins, brought validity back to the ground game with 122 all-purpose yards and a single score. Last, but hardly ever least, is another awe-inspiring outing from Calvin ‘Megatron’ Johnson who reinforced his alias with another monster outing — 14 receptions, 329 receiving yards and a touchdown which was an excruciating seven yards off the all-time record set by Flipper Anderson in 1989.

Suitably, the most potent QB-WR combo in football today, arguably ever, combined for 39 yards on the final drive of the game as Stafford marched the troops from their own 20-yard line before adding the finishing touched himself from a yard out. It all makes for a great story, a grandstand finish, but it is by no means a recipe for success moving forwards.

Firstly, no team should be winning by just a single point with 12 seconds to spare after handing out such a statistical battering. The victory should have come much more comfortably after gaining over 350 more offensive yards than the opposition on the day. In addition, the Lions were almost the masters of their own downfall, and certainly their own worst enemy for a good chunk of this game. Stafford will be remembered for his mammoth passing yardage and his late heroics, though these did nothing more than make amends for the two interceptions he threw earlier in the game, the second of which led to a Dez Bryant touchdown and an extension of the Cowboys lead. It’s also worth noting that our other two valiant performers were also guilty of costly errors during the game; both Johnson and Bush lost fumbles deep into drives to surrender possession and make life much more difficult than it needed to be in Week 8.

Pardon me for being the miser; give the guys a break, right? After all, they more than made up for it in the end, though no matter how impressive the numbers were on the day, the Lions got away with this one. This was the first time all season that Stafford had thrown multiple interceptions in a game, though each of the four  turnovers were committed inside the Dallas half of the field. There aren’t many other teams in the NFL that would have allowed the Lions such a reprieve as was offered earlier this evening. Being able to drive 80-plus-yards to win a game with just a minute left on the clock is also something that will not be a regular occurrence.

Had the Cowboys not been so forgiving in this contest, the Lions would now be sitting at 4-4 and it would have truly been an advantage for the Green Bay Packers in the NFC North, a situation that they so desperately wanted to avoid. Heed the warning Jim Schwartz, it was exceedingly good but ironically, still not good enough.

Chris Machin is a NFL correspondent at Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter, add him to your circles on Google or as a friend on Facebook

Related – Dallas Cowboys Continue to Fail in Close Games

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