Detroit Lions quarterback
But it's Stafford’s play in the fourth quarter, not only this season, but throughout the early portion of his career, that’s been special.
The fifth-year quarterback has a passer rating of 120.9 in the last 15 minutes of games this year. He is 63-of-91 passing (69.2 percent) for 854 yards with six touchdowns and no interceptions. His 9.38 yards per completion are third behind only Peyton Manning (10.87) and Aaron Rodgers (10.06). He's making plays down the field to help win games.
Over the last three seasons, Stafford has orchestrated 10 game-winning drives in the fourth quarter when trailing or tied (12 in his career). Half of those have culminated with a Stafford passing touchdown or rushing touchdown with less than one minute on the clock.
His 80-yard drive in 62 seconds to beat the Dallas Cowboys Oct. 27 was a thing of beauty.
Stafford completed passes of 17, 40 and 22 yards and capped it off with a heads-up sneak when all 21 other players on the field thought he was going to spike it.
Stafford needed only one spike to stop the clock on the drive. He worked the sidelines, he bought time in the pocket and arguably made the two best throws of his career on the 40 yarder to
"He’s been in our system for five years and he knows what we’re going to call and why," offensive coordinator Scott Linehan said. "He’s an extension of what we do out there and I think all great quarterbacks are."
Here's a look at some other key stats after nine weeks of football:
Offense: 3rd overall (21 rush, 2 pass) – 6th in points scored
Defense: 25th overall (13 rush, 25 pass) – 18th points allowed
Offense: 10th overall (13 rush, 14 pass) – 2nd in points scored
Defense: 26th overall (28 rush, 22 pass) – 29th in points allowed
- The Lions rank second in the NFL in goal-to-go touchdown efficiency. They've scored a touchdown 87.5 percent of the time in those situations. The NFL average is 67.7. The size and speed the Lions have on offense has obviously been a factor in the red zone.
- Running back
Reggie Bushis third in the NFL with 121.9 scrimmage yards per game. The eight-year back has 853 yards in seven games. Bush had 173 yards (139 rushing and 34 receiving) and a touchdown against the Bears in their Week 4 matchup.
- Defensive tackle
Ndamukong Suhate up the Bears offensive line in their last meeting in September. Suh had two sacks, two quarterback hits, two tackles-for-loss and a forced fumble that was recovered by teammate Nick Fairleyand returned for a 4-yard touchdown.
- The Lions have dropped 10.6 percent of Stafford’s passes this year, according to STATS, LLC. That’s the third-highest percentage in the NFL with the league average at 7.2.
- The defense remains one of the best in the NFL on third down at 29 percent. That's good for second in the league.
- Big plays have been a problem for the defense through the first half of the season, though. It's taking only an average of 6.46 plays during opponents’ scoring drives. That’s the lowest in NFL.
- Running back
Joique Bellis converting a first down 71.4 percent of the time he runs on third down. He’s 5-of-7 converting on third down on the season.
- Opponents are averaging just 4.5 yards per punt return this year on the Lions. That’s the third-lowest average in the NFL.
- The Lions are rushing the ball 37.4 percent of the time this year, which a little lower than the league average of 40 percent. That number increases to 52.7 percent on first down, though.
- Bears running back Matt Forte is third in the NFL with 974 total yards. He has 1,316 scrimmage yards (972 rush, 344 receiving) and nine touchdowns (six rush, three receiving) in 11 meetings with the Lions. That comes out to an average of 119.6 per game.
- Bears receiver Alshon Jeffery has 25 catches for 517 yards (103.4 per game) and three touchdowns in his past five games.