Quarterback Matthew Stafford has made his legs a dangerous weapon this season. His 193 rushing yards on the year are a single-season career high, and he still has three games to add to that total.
Stafford's 7-yard scamper for a touchdown late in the fourth quarter Sunday was the difference in Detroit's 20-17 win that pushed their record to 9-4. It was a huge play, and begs the question, what are the three top rushing plays in Matthew Stafford's career?
There are plenty of candidates, but here are the first three that came to mind.
1. Week 8 of the 2013 season vs. Dallas
Dallas scored with 1:07 left in the game to go up 30-24. Stafford countered by guiding Detroit right down the field. He set up a 1st and goal at the Dallas 1-yard line with a 22-yard completion to Calvin Johnson. With no timeouts at his disposal, Stafford rushed the offense to the line of scrimmage (you'll remember him being a little animated with then left tackle Riley Reiff to hurry up) to stop the clock with a spike.
With time ticking away and just 14 seconds left on the clock, Stafford hiked the ball. But instead of spiking it, he reached the ball over the goal line for a touchdown, surprising not only the Cowboys, but also his teammates. A David Akers extra point completed the 31-30 comeback win for the Lions.
2. Week 15 of the 2011 season vs. Oakland
Fans might not remember this one, but it was a huge play midway through the fourth quarter that helped the Lions squash a 27-14 deficit and go on to win 28-27 to help clinch a playoff berth that season.
The Lions were trailing 27-14 and facing a 4th and 2 at the Oakland 8-yard line. Stafford's in the shotgun and the play is designed to be a pass. However, Stafford gets a single linebacker look, and decides he's running it. He tells no one. He puts his foot in the ground and goes for it. He puts a move on the linebacker to get by him for a 5-yard gain and a first down. He throws a 3-yard touchdown on the very next play to trim the score to 27-21.
3. Week 14 of the 2016 season vs. Chicago
After throwing a pick-six to surrender the lead in the fourth quarter, Stafford put the offense on his back and guided them down the field and into position to retake the lead at the Bears 7-yard line.
On 2nd and 7, Stafford scrambles around the pocket, and when no receiver breaks open, he decides to take off for the end zone. He runs through an arm tackle at the 3-yard line and breaks another tackle at the goal line before running over his own teammate, tight end Eric Ebron, in the end zone. It gave the Lions back the lead, 20-17. Detroit ended up winning by that score.
Did I miss one that should be on the list? Let me know on Twitter @ttwentyman.
Here's a look at some other key stats – good and bad – after 14 weeks of football:
- Stafford has now tallied 28 game-winning drives during his career when trailing or tied in the fourth quarter or in overtime. Among his 28 drives, he's now scored a rushing touchdown as the game-winning score in three of those games.
- Under head coach Jim Caldwell and defensive coordinator Teryl Austin, the Lions have held opponents to 20 points or less in 26 of the team's 45 games played (58 percent) since the beginning of the 2014 season. This season, the Lions have held opponents to 20 points or less in nine of their 13 games.
- The Lions' offense is averaging just 4.84 yards on first down, which ranks 30th in the NFL. Only Tampa Bay (4.79) and Houston (4.53) average less. The NFL average is 5.42.
- Stafford has a 105.7 passer rating when blitzed this season.
- Through 13 games, DE Kerry Hyder has a team-high 8.0 sacks. Hyder needs two more sacks to become the 10th Lions defensive player to reach 10-plus sacks in a season since 1982.
- Detroit's 124 offensive possessions are the fewest in the NFL. Washington's 137 are the second fewest.
- The Lions have scored 78 points in the final two minutes of a half, the most in the NFL.
- Detroit's defense has moved into the Top 10 in the NFL in points allowed per game (20.6). They're also 11th against the run (97.7).