TWENTYMAN: Schwartz was right, the Lions were lucky to have Stafford on Sunday

Posted Oct 28, 2013

Following a 31-30 comeback win, Tim Twentyman digs into what makes Matthew Stafford the right quarterback for the Lions

Matthew StaffordQB Matthew Stafford threw for 488 yards in Sunday's 31-30 comeback victory. (Photo: G. Smith/Detroit Lions)

Matthew Stafford sat on a stool at his locker after Sunday's 31-30 win over the Dallas Cowboys and entertained a small group of reporters.

Stafford took the reporters through the last play. He talked about his overall performance. He took complete blame for his second interception. He was sure to recognize countless others' contributions in the win -- mainly Calvin Johnson -- and even joked about his vertical leap on the last play.

He talked for so long, in fact, an already showered Kris Durham interrupted him to remind him he had family and friends waiting for him at home.

Just minutes before, Lions head coach Jim Schwartz was telling reporters at his podium session how lucky the Lions were to have Stafford as their quarterback. Schwartz was dead on with that assessment.

Stafford gets his fair share of criticism.

There are the perceived flaws in his mechanics assumed to result in accuracy issues even though his completion percentage is 62.4 percent. That number ranks him in the top seven in the league among quarterbacks who have thrown at least 250 passes.

The criticism comes with being a No. 1-overall pick and the huge expectations that accompany that status. Stafford has always understood that and has embraced it. He doesn't run from it, but he doesn't ever make excuses or apologize for the way he plays, either.

The fifth-year quarterback plays this game from feel. It's not always pretty, but it's the same way he's always played it, from the back yard growing up in the Dallas suburbs to his college days at Georgia.

Stafford's probably never going to lead the NFL in passing accuracy. He's a career 60.2-percent passer, which is still pretty good, but not up there with Peyton Manning, Aaron Rogers and Drew Brees, who all boast a career average above 65 percent.

However, there's more to playing the position than completion percentages or passing yards.

Consider that Stafford has already orchestrated 12 career game-winning drives when trailing or tied in the fourth quarter or in overtime. That's more than half of his 22-career victories.

He has engineered eight of those after the two-minute warning or in overtime, with him throwing the game-winning touchdown on five of those occasions.

Stafford was surgical in the way he carved up the Cowboys secondary on that last drive Sunday.

The throw to Durham down the sideline for 40 yards might have been his best of the year had he not made the same exact throw to Kevin Ogletree on 3rd down and 20 last week vs. Cincinnati for 43 yards.

The accuracy he showed in placing the last throw of the game behind a defender and in front of Johnson to set the Lions up at the 1-yard line was Stafford at his best.

That entire final drive was Stafford at his best. He showed poise. He showed accuracy. And the final quarterback sneak proved he's got some moxy, too.

"We don't get it in and we probably lose the game," Stafford said of the play.

"It's just a feel play, man. I went for it. I was just trying to make a play."

He certainly made a play. Quite a few, in fact, over the last 62 seconds of the game. In doing so, he helped give this franchise its signature win of the season.

Schwartz was right on in his comments after the game; the Lions were lucky to have Matthew Stafford as their quarterback on Sunday.