Exploring Matthew Stafford’s record versus winning teams: Part 1

By
Updated: June 17, 2013

With quarterback Matthew Stafford at the helm, the Detroit Lions have found myriad ways to lose games against winning teams, even when Stafford himself performed well.

Scott Kacsmar recently in an article published on BleacherReport showing that the Detroit Lions have gone 1-23 against winning teams with quarterback Matthew Stafford taking snaps.

Although the record looks damning on its face, the problem with laying all these losses at Stafford’s feet is that it takes the results of these games out of context. The table itself makes clear that Stafford himself has put up very good performances against winning teams.

Analyzing game by game, I will show how injuries and “improbable plays” — most of which had nothing to do with poor play on the part of Stafford — caused this abysmal record. We then can calculate Stafford’s true record against winning teams based on his performance alone and not what some are fond of referring to as “LOLLoins” moments.

2009

The five games from 2009 should be thrown out the window. Stafford was a rookie inheriting the mess left by general manager Matt Millen, a team that had gone 0-16 the year before. First-year general manager Martin Mayhew had no real chance to upgrade the offense or defense, because no free agent wanted to come to Detroit and he was saddled with serious cap issues.

Remember, this was before wide receiver Nate Burleson, tight end Tony Scheffler, and running back Jahvid Best joined the team. Stafford had no slot wide receiver or explosive running back at his disposal, and rookie tight end Brandon Pettigrew missed the final two of these games.

Moreover, Stafford played hurt the last two games after sustaining a big hit from defensive tackle C.J. Mosley (himself now with Detroit) and failed to the the game against the Cincinnati Bengals game due to the injury.

It’s doubtful any rookie in the history of the game could have done better with the situation that confronted Stafford in 2009.

Stafford’s record: 0-0

2010

This was before Detroit acquired wide receivers Titus Young and Ryan Broyles. Best missed the game against the New York Jets due to turf toe. Most importantly, Stafford was battling injuries of his own and failed to finish either game.

Both times, he left the game with leads against good defenses, having scored 14 points in the first half against the Chicago Bears and 20 points by the late fourth quarter against the Jets.

Indeed, the game at Chicago seemed to have been won, but Calvin Johnson’s touchdown reception in the waning moments was declared incomplete on the infamous “process-of-the-catch” ruling.

Against the Jets, the defense gave up late scores and backup quarterback Drew Stanton threw a costly incompletion on third down when he should have run out the clock. Turning the ball over on downs gave the Jets another chance to force overtime.

Stafford’s record: 2-0

2011

San Francisco

Detroit jumped out to an early lead, but the game went back and forth. Stafford did a solid job against a tough 49ers defense, throwing for 239 yards and two touchdowns (85.6 passer rating).

The chronic inability of running back Jahvid Best to stay healthy didn’t help the Detroit Lions’ prospects on offense.

Kicker Jason Hanson missed a big field goal to end the first half, while 49ers kicker David Akers (also now with Detroit) hit a long field goal.

Best was lost to injury in the fourth quarter.

Late in the game, on San Francisco’s final scoring drive, Ted Ginn’s big punt return to the Lions’ 40-yard line was set up by an obvious illegal block in the back. To make matters worse, the referees spotted the ball incorrectly at the Detroit 35. Had San Francisco faced a longer field, Detroit probably would have won, considering how well they stopped the 49ers offense to that point. That drive ended in a touchdown to put San Francisco up 22-19.

Miscues on special teams caused a six-point swing in a game Detroit lost by six points.

Stafford’s record: 3-0

Atlanta

This is the first loss that can be definitely charged to Stafford. Although Best missed the entire game due to injury, that doesn’t explain Stafford’s off day: he completed only 46 percent of his passes as Detroit scored only 16 points all day.

To cap the day off, returner Stefan Logan muffed a punt, giving the Falcons a short field that they converted into a touchdown to win 23-16.

Stafford’s record: 3-1

Green Bay

This game is tough to call. Best was still out, running back Kevin Smith was lost for three quarters, and Stafford couldn’t grip the ball. Still, his inability to hold onto the ball hadn’t prevented him from throwing five touchdowns just the week before against the Carolina Panthers.

Stafford completed 71 percent of his passes, but he also threw three costly interceptions, one of which came on a tipped ball, the other of which was an improbable play in which cornerback Charles Woodson took the ball out of Pettigrew’s hands to set the Packers up with a short field. These two turnovers lead to 10 Green Bay points.

Until the middle of the second quarter, this game was a defensive battle. Then cornerback Chris Houston and safety Louis Delmas got hurt, and Green Bay started scoring points.

Nevertheless, to be fair, I’ll give this loss to Stafford for the three picks.

Stafford’s record: 3-2

At New Orleans

With Best still sidelined, Stafford completed 71 percent of his passes for 400 yards, one interception, and a 97 passer rating. The pick came on a late-game desperation heave with Detroit down 14 points. Titus Young was flagged for a personal foul in the end zone (a sign of things to come) that negated a touchdown and forced Detroit to settle for a field goal.

Although Stafford played great, the defense did not. They were missing defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, Houston, Delmas, and safety Aaron Berry. Hanson also missed an important field goal late in the game that sealed the defeat.

New Orleans exploited a depleted Detroit secondary to go up 31-17.

Stafford’s record: 4-2

Against the New Orleans Saints in the Wild Card round, Detroit Lions safety Amari Spievey sustained a concussion, and quarterback Drew Brees took swift advantage.

At Green Bay

Stafford surely played well enough to win, throwing five touchdowns, scoring 41 points, and posting a 103 passer rating. Calvin Johnson dropped what should have been an easy sixth touchdown. Young caught still another touchdown that was ruled not to be a score, but because Detroit was out of challenges due to a rule that was later changed the following offseason, they were unable to overturn the call. Nate Burleson slipped on a route, leading to an interception. Hanson missed a chip shot to complete the debacle.

Stafford’s record: 5-2

At New Orleans (playoffs)

Once again Stafford played great, despite an injury to left tackle Jeff Backus, completing 65 percent of his passes for 380 yards and three touchdowns. His one late pick during a deep pass on which Titus Young fell down.

A premature whistle on a fumble prevented Detroit from taking what would have been a 21-7 lead.

The defense started falling apart as the injuries piled up. Houston hurt his shoulder, safety Amari Spievey played with a concussion, and Delmas was hobbled by a knee injury. Saints quarterback Drew Brees picked apart the depleted secondary to the tune of 45 points.

An excellent game by Stafford went for naught, and the Lions’ season came to an end. Who knows how far the Lions could have gone with a healthy secondary in Week 17 and on Wild Card weekend!

Stafford’s record: 6-2

About the author(s)

Known as much for his in-depth analytical articles and statistically intensive style as his sometimes brash and confrontational tone, Russ Thomas covers the Detroit Lions beat for Water Cooler Sports. Feel free to contact him at .

1008 comments
jack sprat
jack sprat

Your name is giving this Lions fan an anxiety attack, man. Change it!

To pretty much anything other than Matt Millen.

thebaskett
thebaskett

I just submitted part 1 of 10 articles on how the vikings actually have won 10 Super Bowls. its going to be a great read

Mr. Horse
Mr. Horse

While we're waiting for Part II I'm thinking ahead to game 7 in Miami.

MIBearFan
MIBearFan

Blackhawks are looking like crap. We'll see how they play on Wednesday. They seem to do better when they are under pressure.

MIBearFan
MIBearFan

I'm poking around on amazon for camera accessories. I loaded over $650 worth of shit in my cart.

Preparation_A
Preparation_A

FBI digging around on tip Jimmy Hoffa buried just north of Detroit metro. Implications for the Lions?

Mr. Horse
Mr. Horse

Well, Part II-2012 is going to be anticlimactic. Stafford picks up 15 wins and the Lombardi Trophy.

Classic Nardo
Classic Nardo

 Hey check out Arcanium.  Damn good stuff.

Communist Rockefeller
Communist Rockefeller

Kurt Warner top 10 quarterbacks:

1. Tom Brady

2. Aaron Rodgers

3. Drew Brees

4. Peyton Manning

5. Ben Roethlisberger

6. Eli Manning

7. Matt Ryan

8. Joe Flacco

9. Philip Rivers

10. Tony Romo

aciddragon
aciddragon moderator

so let's talk some hockey, how bout them Bruins eh 

LKP 40 10
LKP 40 10

 I'm not saying the Lions won. I'm saying Stafford played well enough to win

MIBearFan
MIBearFan

  

I'm looking forward to ZZZZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzz......

Staffords_Glove
Staffords_Glove

 It is getting to the point where I am hoping they do not get a power play...

MIBearFan
MIBearFan

  

Sorry, pal. I'm a generate.

MIBearFan
MIBearFan

 

That's all well and good, but if she damages one of those gorgeous boobs, it would be a criminal offense, and should merit some jail time.

MIBearFan
MIBearFan

  

It would make Stafford''s official record against winning teams 8-0!

Preparation_A
Preparation_A

  

Is voted into the HoF prior to retirement and is then crowned King of the Moon.

Kuato Face
Kuato Face moderator

 was there any XBox related terrorist attacks?

BearsSaveLives
BearsSaveLives moderator

Bruin is another word for Bears, so BEARS WIN!

thebaskett
thebaskett

  thats going to be similar to my points

MIBearFan
MIBearFan

  

Their power play sucks. It's gotten to the point where no one wants to take the shot. They need to throw the puck at the net.

Johnathan Wood
Johnathan Wood moderator

  yeah, their power play was pathetic last night.  1 shot in 6 minutes, gave up 3 shots to Boston in that time

MIBearFan
MIBearFan

   

Not gonna happen. I'm just using it for a parking lot for ideas. Some of the items are redundant (variations on lens kits).

Communist Rockefeller
Communist Rockefeller

  My personal list is this:

1. Aaron Rodgers

2. Peyton Manning

3. Tom Brady

4. Matt Ryan

5. Drew Brees

6. Tony Romo

7. Robert Griffin III

8. Ben Roethlisberger

9. Matt Stafford

10. Russell Wilson

(admittedly, it's really just a top 7 with a kneejerk extension)

aciddragon
aciddragon moderator

i'd switch #1 and #2, then move #3 down about 5 spots, 

Johnathan Wood
Johnathan Wood moderator

  in general they just needed to do that more last night.  They were thinking too much, trying too hard to make the perfect play.

Kuato Face
Kuato Face moderator

  Well of course they don't. It fucking handcuffs the owner. It is like some insidious device created by big brother.

aciddragon
aciddragon moderator

 i need to see a lot more out of RG3 and Wilson before i put them in the top 10 

Kuato Face
Kuato Face moderator

   How dare you use LKP logic in reference to a Chicago team. I hat you.

aciddragon
aciddragon moderator

   fluke turnovers and concentrated lack of give a shit?

Mr. Horse
Mr. Horse

  It was really a win.  I could go into it at great length. 

aciddragon
aciddragon moderator

 they lost today that is all that matters 

Mr. Horse
Mr. Horse

  

The Hawks are actually ahead in the series