For a dozen years, Matthew Stafford watched the NFL’s playoff carnival go off either without him, or with his role limited to bit player.
He threw for 49,995 regular-season yards and 282 touchdowns for the Detroit Lions but had virtually nothing tangible (other than a lot of money, of course) to show for it. Three meager wild-card appearances. Three losses by an average of 13.7 points.
There was lots of couch time watching not just great quarterbacks play in, and win, big games, but even guys without his talent. John Wolford won a playoff game since Stafford entered the league in 2009. So did Case Keenum, Tim Tebow, T.J. Yates and Matt Schaub. At some point, anything counts.
With his prime withering away and another rebuild set to begin in Detroit, he begged his way out of that forlorn franchise and to Los Angeles, where with the Rams he hoped to finally join the fray for real.
Monday was step one: Stafford finally shook off the label of having never won a playoff game courtesy of a lopsided 34-11 victory over Arizona.
The result was as much about the Rams defense and the Cardinals failures – namely a brutal first half by quarterback Kyler Murray – as anything Stafford did, but so what? A victory is a victory.
Matthew Stafford threw for two touchdowns and ran for another as the Rams dominated the Cardinals on Monday night. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
“I’m just excited for the team to get a win,” Stafford said. “… It feels great.”
Stafford will gladly take 13 for 17 for 202 yards and two touchdowns, plus another score via quarterback sneak, when it’s wrapped in a victory. The game plan was to win. The Rams did it mostly by running the ball. It’s all good.
“I thought when we did throw the ball, Matthew was terrific,” coach Sean McVay said.
Stafford certainly didn’t care.
“Happy to get one,” he said. “Looking for more.”
That’s where it starts to get tough.
Up next is a trip Sunday to Tampa Bay to play Tom Brady and the Buccaneers….