By: Will Burchfield
Matthew Stafford and the Lions gutted out another comeback victory on Sunday, topping the Bears 20-17, but not without a cost.
The injury occurred on the final play of the first quarter when Stafford got tangled up with Bears linebacker Leonard Floyd. He received treatment from the training staff between quarters and returned to action with a white glove on his right hand, which he wore for the rest of the game.
Stafford said the glove affected both his grip and his velocity, a fact that seemed to be evident when he threw two fourth quarter interceptions. Nevertheless, the burgeoning MVP candidate executed his eighth game-winning, fourth-quarter drive of the season – an NFL record – punctuated by his seven-yard touchdown scramble.
“I just tried to play through it, play as good as I could,” Stafford said. “I let those guys know that it may not be pretty coming in there, but those guys made some great plays for me. Obviously, didn’t play as well as I can. You know, those two turnovers hurt us, but our defense played great. Then we were able to put together a drive late to go win it.”
Stafford last played with a glove on his throwing hand when he broke his right index finger in the 2011 season. The glove seemed to hinder him then, too, as he threw nine interceptions over the first three games with it on.
He did his best to overcome the challenge on Sunday, and will have to do the same for the rest of the season.
“You know, just not expecting to go into a game and to have to wear a glove. Needed to, was just trying to figure out what was the best way to manage it. The training room guys, the equipment staff, everybody did a great job. Got me all ready to go. I just haven’t thrown with one in a long time. Trying to get the feel back was a little difficult,” Stafford said.
Jim Caldwell praised his quarterback for rising to the occasion in the face of adversity.
“He leads our group and does a tremendous job of that. I don’t think anybody’s ever questioned his toughness, nor have they questioned his ability to come back from a setback. Throws the pick-six and comes right back and takes the team right down the field and puts it in the end zone,” Caldwell said. “Quite a competitor.”