This was the moment Matthew Stafford always wanted. This was the moment he’d always worked toward.
Final minute of a NFL playoff game, on the road, crowd going wild, momentum against you, some legend on other side, heck, let’s make it Tom Brady no less, and everyone needs you to make a play, needs Stafford to go do something to win the game, a game that truly matters.
This was all Stafford had wanted in his career, to be in the mix. And maybe it was partially his fault that he never could get the Detroit Lions there. Or maybe it was just the Lions. Whatever it was, it was. That was then. This was his new team, this was the Los Angeles Rams, locked at 27-27 with Tampa Bay, 42 seconds left to do something.
Yeah, it sounds a bit ridiculous. Stafford, he of one career playoff victory (last week), against Brady, he of seven Super Bowl titles, in a final, furious shootout.
But throughout those dozen seasons in Detroit, Stafford had prepped for this, pushed toward this. He watched the extra film and studied the situations and did the extra offseason workouts even if he was staring at a six-win roster. He led Detroit 39 comeback victories, an amazing number since he only won 74 games.
Whatever and however, he knew he could do this on the big stage. He just never had.
So while he said afterward it would have been nice if the Rams hadn’t blown a 27-3 lead with four fumbles and a missed field goal, and it would have been relaxing and satisfying to just cruise to a NFC championship game matchup with San Francisco, truth be told, this is what he really wanted.
“I would have loved taking a knee up three scores,”Stafford said. “But it’s a whole lot more fun when you have to make a play to win a game and just steal somebody’s soul.
“That’s what it feels like sometimes,” he continued. “They are sitting there, thinking, ‘Man, we just had this great comeback.’ And you get to reach in there and take it from them. That’s a whole lot of fun.”