Detroit Lions analysis: Stafford's aggressiveness wins game -- but almost loses it, too
Stafford throws 2 interceptions vs. Chargers
DETROIT – Down 10-6, with seven minutes left in the game, Matthew Stafford stood tall in the pocket and fired a 30-yard pass to Kenny Golladay for the go ahead and eventually game winning score. It was a great throw, put right on Golladay's chest as he leapt in front of the defender.
Those elite throws are sometimes mixed in with less amazing decisions and results, as Lions fans saw on Stafford's two interceptions earlier in the game.
Let's look at those INTs and two more great throws that helped the Lions beat the Chargers.
Stafford takes a shot to Golladay that's picked off in the endzone:
Let's set the scene. The pick happens early in the third quarter. It's on the Lions' first drive of the second half. Prior to the interception, the Lions steadily move the ball down the field and look like they're going to score.
On the interception, the Lions roll Stafford out after a play action fake. Three receivers go out, including Kenny Golladay on a go route. No one's open and Stafford heaves it, trying to make a play. However, he underthrows Golladay and the defender picks it off.
Stafford forces a deep ball to Marvin Jones:
This one was later in the third with about two minutes to go. The Lions have the ball after a missed field goal. Stafford has a lot of time to throw, almost too much time. He does a good job of moving the defense with his eyes and thinks he has the safety beat when he throws deep to Jones. The safety ends up covering the ground, getting over in time to intercept the pass.
4th and one pass to Marvin Jones
Just before the game winning touchdown was the play that made it happen. After a third-down throw to Kenny Golladay was one yard short, the Lions decided to go for it. Both Jones and Golladay were on the same side of the field. Jones was in the slot, Golladay was on the boundary. Stafford looked, waited and fired a short throw to Jones who ran a hitch route.
Stafford forced the throw but threw it so hard it got to Jones in an instant, and he caught it giving the Lions the first down.
27-yard throw to Golladay
This is the play just before Stafford's first interception. At the snap the Chargers jump offside, so Stafford looks for a one-on-one matchup and takes a shot. Rolling to his right, he throws a perfect pass off one foot down the sideline to Golladay who hauls it in.
What would have been just a five-yard gain and a second and four turned into a big gain and first down because of that amazing throw.
In recent seasons the Lions have wavered between letting Stafford loose or trying to reel him in. It looks like this year they want to reel him in by running the ball more, throwing the ball more quickly, and being select with shots down the field.
So far this season when Stafford has been composed, he's had success. When he's taken some risks, he's ended up turning the ball over. How Stafford and the new offense progress over the coming weeks will go a long way in determining if the Lions can challenge for a playoff spot this year.
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