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NOTEBOOK: Stafford thrives in high-pressure situations

Any time left on the clock nowadays almost seems like too much time for opponents facing Matthew Stafford and the Lions.

This week, Stafford was facing a three-point deficit with the ball on his own 25-yard line with just 23 seconds left on the clock and no timeouts.

No problem.

Eight yards here to Golden Tate, 27 yards there to Andre Roberts, a spike, and boom, Matt Prater is making a game-tying 58-yard field goal to send the game into overtime.

In the extra session, Stafford took the Lions 87 yards in 11 plays capped off with the game-winning 28-yard strike to Golden Tate in a 22-16 come-from-behind win.

It's the fifth come-from-behind win Stafford has orchestrated in the fourth quarter or overtime this year. That's all five of Detroit's wins (5-4) on the season. He's the first quarterback since the merger to accomplish that feat in a team's first five wins of the season.

It's the 25th career game in which he's led the Lions to a win in come-from-behind fashion late. He's simply ice cold in those high-pressure situations.

"Just late in those games, in that huddle those guys believe," Stafford said. "I believe and what did we have 23 (seconds) to start that drive? 23 (seconds) and no timeouts, that's a tough one to get done, but we got it done."

More often than not in those situations, Stafford gets it done.


Teammates got a kick out of Golden Tate's flip into the end zone to end the game, but Tate admitted afterward that he thought it was going to be a solo act.

Instead, Vikings safety Andrew Sendejo hit Tate right as he flipped past the goal line.

"I thought the only safety that was on my side was Harrison Smith," Tate said. "I got him off of me and I didn't realize whichever safety it was, was going to be flying over so quickly. I'm just happy that I held onto the ball and helped us win."


The 27-yard pass to Roberts that set the Lions up at the Minnesota 40-yard line with 17 seconds left was a new play put on the call sheet just this week by offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter.

"Jim Bob (Cooter) put it (the play) in this week as the play when you need 30 yards, maybe 40, with no timeouts," Stafford said. "It's just a heck of a play, a heck of a play design and it worked for us."

Stafford had the guts to throw the ball to the middle of the field to Roberts, who made the sliding catch.

It was Roberts' only catch of the game, and it was a big one.


The Lions started two rookies – Taylor Decker and Graham Glasgow – and a first-time starter in Corey Robinson at right tackle, against a Vikings defense known for its ability to get after the quarterback.

The last time Stafford played in Minnesota, he could barely walk to the bus because his ribs had taken such a beating with the big hits.

Not this time.

Detroit's offensive line played terrific on Sunday, allowing just one sack and four hits on Stafford overall. It was a terrific performance from such a young group.

"I think they did a great job," Stafford said of his O-line. "I was telling them after the game, it might be one of the cleanest I've been in a game playing these guys, especially at their place.

"They were getting off the ball great, but our offensive line was doing a heck of a job." 

The Lions also rushed for 97 yards, more than their season average coming in.


-- Kerry Hyder recorded two more sacks to give him seven on the season, which leads the team.

-- Both Vikings touchdowns came on a 1-yard catch and 1-yard run from the tight end position. They were the ninth and 10th touchdowns allowed by the Lions from the tight end position this year.

-- Marvin Jones Jr. dropped his sixth pass of the season in the game. Coming into this season, Jones had six drops through his entire career. Jones was targeted five times in the game, but caught just one for five yards.

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