Calvin Johnson’s record day that came up just 7 yards short of Willie ‘Flipper’ Anderson’s record of 336 yards in a receiving was simply incredible, but Matthew Stafford had one of the more notable audibles in NFL history in how he scored the touchdown that sealed the victory for the Detroit Lions. Stafford’s day on the stat sheet was impressive despite some turnovers that put them in the position to need to come back, but his jump and sticking the ball over the goal line on the 1-yard line with time running out on the clock was the smartest call by a quarterback in that situation since Dan Marino’s fake spike touchdown pass that enabled them to beat the New York Jets.
There was no question that everyone else on the Lions was preparing to spike the football. That is the move that needs to be made in that situation to preserve the clock and get snaps to be able to try to win. Johnson was on the outside and he almost missed Stafford’s play because he lined up and was looking around waiting for the spike so they could figure out their next play. Rather than spiking the football, which is what his team was expecting and what the Dallas Cowboys were expecting, he took the ball ran up the middle and jumped extending the ball over the goal line, giving the Lions the touchdown which made enabled the Lions to win 31-30. This was an incredible gamble, but it worked and he was able to get the score.
This is not Stafford’s first time with incredible heroics of this brand and his incredible intelligence and awareness. In one of the more anonymous, great quarterback duels of all time that few people saw live, Stafford was able to make a great play to win a game against the Cleveland Browns and Brady Quinn. In that situation, Stafford had taken a vicious hit and really hurt his shoulder after taking a hit from Browns defensive lineman C.J. Mosley. The Browns called a time out on the play as Stafford was being looked over by doctors and he heard the call of time out and immediately knew he could go back in the game, got rid of everyone and ran back onto the field. Despite having an arm basically hanging there and in obvious pain, Stafford was able to come out and throw the pass for the score that enabled the Lions to win the game.
The Stafford-Johnson combo has been the source of so many remarkable plays and this is just the latest but they are really becoming something truly special and the Lions are in the hunt for first place in the NFC North. This was a great way for the Lions to go into their bye at 5-3 as they have two weeks to prepare for the Chicago Bears.