It was only two seasons ago the Detroit Lions set an NFL record by recording eight come-from-behind victories in the fourth quarter. It was pretty much a given that season if the score was close, quarterback Matthew Stafford was going to lead the Lions down the field and find a way to score and win the game.
Stafford owns 33 game-winning drives during his career when trailing or tied in the fourth quarter and overtime. His 21 since 2014 are the fourth most in the NFL.
But for whatever reason, Stafford and the Lions' offense have lost some of the fourth quarter magic this season. In the last two weeks, for example, Stafford has had the ball in the fourth quarter tied against Chicago and trailing by three to Los Angeles, and has turned the ball over both times -- A pick six against Chicago and a fumble against Los Angeles.
"Obviously, fourth quarter turnovers are tough," Stafford said this week. "Don't want to have them. I had the pick-six in the Chicago game, our guys did a nice job battling back. (We) had a chance there to tie it up late and then last week – I have to find a way to hold on to that ball and do whatever I can to make sure we just don't turn it over there."
Stafford's fourth quarter numbers aren't all that off from season's past. Last year he had a 93.2 passer rating in the fourth quarter with nine touchdowns and four interceptions. This season he has a passer rating of 89.8 with eight touchdowns and five interceptions. He has had a couple key fumbles in the fourth quarter this year, however.
It's really been a lack of playmaking on key drives late in the fourth quarter that's been missing. In losses against San Francisco, Seattle, Minnesota, Chicago and Los Angeles, the Lions couldn't find a way to make a play late in close games, or worse, they made critical errors that cost them.
"Any time you don't come away with the win and you have the opportunity to get it done, it's disappointing and frustrating," said Stafford. "There's no question about that. That's why we work so hard to try and make sure it doesn't happen again."
Stafford said it just comes down to not being able to make a play when other year s they've found a way.
"We've had our chances to come back and just haven't gotten it done," he said. "It seems like a play here or a play there turns it, and that's NFL football.
"A couple years ago we were behind every fourth quarter or whatever it was, 15-16 (games), we made a couple plays here or there to help us win enough games. But that's kind of what it boils down to in the NFL, is making those plays or not making them."
QUIN REMEMBERS BUSH
It never gets old meeting the President of the United States, and Detroit Lions safety Glover Quin has lasting memories of the times he met the late George H. W. Bush.
Quin met Bush, who passed away last week, most recently on Oct. 30, 2016, when the Lions were playing the Texans in Houston. Bush took part in the pregame coin toss.
Quin was one of the Lions' captains. When he got to midfield, he introduced himself to the ex-president, and the two shook hands.
"I didn't tell him who I was," Quin said this week. "I just shook his hand. He didn't know who I was."
Quin also had met Bush in similar situations in the four years he played for the Houston Texans (2009-12) before signing with the Lions in 2013. The Bush family lived in Houston. Bush was a big sports fan.
Quin has collected memorabilia throughout his 10-year NFL career, but he doesn't have a picture of that moment with Bush.
"I don't have a picture of it," Quin said. "They probably took pictures of it. It was a cool moment. It happened a few times when I was with Houston."
Traveling out west to play in Arizona Sunday, the Lions are hitting the road a day early leaving Michigan Friday afternoon. Typically, the team leaves the day before a road trip.
"For us it's just a situation where we're trying to get out there and get settled in and get acclimated and have a good day tomorrow," Lions head coach Matt Patricia said Friday morning. "Staying on rhythm as far as that's concerned. Have good night meetings and then get up and play the game. Just kind of thought it was the best approach."
Kickoff Sunday in Arizona is 2:25 p.m. local time and 4:25 here in Michigan.