By Ashley Dunkak
FORD FIELD (CBS DETROIT) – Trailing by six points, the Detroit Lions stood on the one-yard line with 14 seconds remaining against the Dallas Cowboys. Quarterback Matthew Stafford yelled, “Spike!” He screamed, “Clock!”
Reasonably enough, everyone expected Stafford to spike the ball. Stafford planned to spike the ball. Then, however, he noticed a few details that made him change his mind.
“I told everybody I was spiking it,” Stafford said. “I was screaming, ‘Clock!’ I was going to spike it, but just kind of reading – it was a feel thing. I was yelling spike, they knew I was yelling spike, I saw linebackers kind of standing like this. Our guys didn’t fire off. They just kind of stood up, but I looked down and we were that far.
“Shoot,” Stafford added, recalling his thought. “I’m going to friggin’ go get that!”
Stafford jumped and stretched the ball over the plane of the goal line, much to the confusion of almost everyone else on the field. He never did get tackled, and he ran into the end zone after that, emphatically spiking the ball and going crazy.
“I probably could’ve made it less interesting and just moseyed in around the corner, but I thought I got in the first time,” Stafford said. “I saw how far it was. It was nothing. I felt like I used my supreme vertical and got up and got it in.”
Stafford definitely had the element of surprise, making the split-second decision that even his teammates did not realize until he was already in the end zone celebrating.
“Our whole line just stood straight up,” Stafford said. “I think that probably helped. Maybe their D-line just stood up and was like, ‘Oh, he’s not doing anything.’ I don’t know. I was just going for it man. Shoot. Just trying to win a game.”
Needless to say, the Lions were thrilled. Stafford had thrown two picks in the game, mistakes that might cause a player to be more conservative. Stafford followed his gut, and it paid off.
Center Dominic Raiola could not stop grinning by his locker after the room.
“I called him a tough motherf-er,” Raiola said, sweat still dripping off his face as he smiled. “That’s about all I can give you on that.”
“For Matt to come back and do what he did after what he went through earlier in the game, it’s crazy,” Raiola said. “Mentally to overcome that, overcome that pick to Sean Lee – what can you say? I love the guy. Love his toughness, love his moxie.”
Just like everyone else, Raiola had no clue what Stafford was about to do. He did not even realize it as it happened. Even after the game, it still seemed that the wonderful reality for the Lions had not sunk in.
“I just kind of squatted and tried to protect him and I just saw people scrambling and he ran out,” Raiola explained, then laughed. “That s— was awesome! What can you say?”
“I had no idea, still, even when he scored,” Raiola added. “Maybe even right now, I have no idea. It’s unreal.”