The Lions have played in so many close games this year that offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter knew he was probably in for another tight contest last Sunday in Minnesota.
So, Cooter put in a new play just in case he needed a chunk play late to get the offense into field goal range for a win or a tie.
"Jim Bob put it (the play) in this week as the play when you need 30 yards, maybe 40, with no timeouts," Stafford said after the game. "It's just a heck of a play, a heck of a play design and it worked for us."
The design led to a 27-yard reception by Andre Roberts with just seconds remaining in the game to set up a 58-yard game-tying field goal to send the game into overtime, which the Lions won in the extra session.
The play is the subject of this week's Film Review:
The Lions are at their own 28-yard line with 17 seconds remaining and no timeouts in their pocket.
Stafford and Co. come out in a shotgun four receiver set with Theo Riddick in the backfield to the left of Stafford. Cooter has three receivers to the right in trips formation with Marvin Jones Jr. at the bottom of the formation left.
The Vikings are rushing just three and have eight defenders back in a 3-deep coverage playing outside leverage, expecting a play to the sideline.
The concept here for the Lions is to run three in-routes from their three receivers to the right at varying depths, expecting the middle of the field to be open for business.
The first in-route comes from Boldin, who is the most inside receiver. He runs a 7-yard in, which the Vikings essentially let go, knowing the Lions have to push the ball further down the field with so little time left.
Also note the pocket Stafford is afforded with the three-man rush. The offensive line, which played great all game, does its job once again on this play.
The second in-route is the outside receiver, Golden Tate, who runs his in at 15 yards at the Lions 48-yard line. Again, Tate is given free run by the Vikings defense, which are focused more on the sideline.
The third in-route comes from Roberts, the middle receiver in the trips formation. He cuts inside at 25 yards (he ultimately drifts to 27 yards), but has to clear linebacker Emmanuel Lamur (#59) in the middle of the field before Stafford can make the throw.
Stafford pumps to wait for Roberts to clear Lamur and then makes a great throw. Roberts makes a sliding catch at the 40-yard line. The offense then hustles up to the line of scrimmage and gets set before spiking the ball with just two seconds left.
The rest, well, is history.
"Most end-of-game defenses don't let you get out of bounds," Roberts told SI.com after the game. "They'll play their guys near the sidelines so you can't [get] out of bounds. So we had this play where our guys run in-cuts and get down right away. Then we run to the line and try to spike it so we can run another play or kick the field goal."
This is really the perfect play call to attack the middle of the field with the Vikings so focused on protecting the sidelines.
Kudos to Cooter for putting it on the call sheet this week.