From never winning a playoff game with the Detroit Lions to his single Pro Bowl nod over a career that has spanned across three different decades, Matthew Stafford is no stranger to criticism. However, the veteran quarterback put the team on his back in the clutch moments, something he’s had to do many times, and led the L.A. Rams to a come from behind win in Week 11. Will the critics ever learn?
Matthew Stafford’s 200th career start had quite a memorable finish as the Los Angeles Rams held off the Seattle Seahawks 17-16. By no means was this a legendary performance from Stafford. It fact, this outing was largely forgettable for the veteran quarterback who had his second game-winning drive of the 2023 campaign.
Matthew Stafford's first 4th quarter comeback since the Super Bowl, 35th career.— J.B. Long (@JB_Long) November 20, 2023
His second game-winning drive of 2023, 44th career.
Pretty good stuff after getting cut in half by Mario Edwards late. Didn't miss a snap. pic.twitter.com/qLYKHBfAq9
Stafford’s legacy has been under question (a little by yours truly) due in part to his play the last couple years. The Georgia product has been a shell of himself ever since LA’s run to Super Bowl LVI. Whenever Stafford struggles, the haters seemingly come out in full force to bash him any chance they get. Even when he was playing well, the doubters circled him like vultures ready to swoop down for the kill. That clearly wasn’t the case early on.
Matthew Stafford is currently 2/7 for 19 yards. When is it time to have the discussion— Football Talk (@Football_Talk2) November 19, 2023
How did Matthew Stafford win a Super Bowl?— Alexis (@lexyarnold) November 19, 2023
Can we talk about how Matthew Stafford has had plenty time to throw today & has been terrible . Just bad.— Carlos B (@MrCarlosBurrell) November 19, 2023
Matthew Stafford exuding extreme "I should have retired last winter" energy— Patrick Daugherty (@RotoPat) November 19, 2023
matthew stafford missing a wide open darrell henderson is a good time to remind ourselves that no one - not even zach wilson - has been more inaccurate than stafford this season. pic.twitter.com/xgO8YH661r— Denny Carter (@CDCarter13) November 19, 2023
Criticism directed towards Stafford has been rightfully deserved as his start against the Seachickens was pretty poor. However, comparing him to Zach Wilson was a little uncalled for, no matter how close they may be in comparison. Stafford has clearly lost a step but he’s not as offensively challenged as Wilson. He actually knows how to throw the ball to his own team. Actually Wilson has one less interception than Stafford so I should probably keep my mouth shut.
On the year, Stafford has put up eerily similar stats to his injury-riddled 2022 campaign. Through 10 games, Stafford has completed 59.2 percent of his passes for nine touchdown passes and eight interceptions. Heading into Monday Night Football, his eight picks are tied for the fourth-most in the league with Jalen Hurts and Patrick Mahomes. Um, elite company? He also hasn’t completed over 60 percent of his passes since October 15 against the Cardinals. Speak of the devil, would you look at who LA plays this week.
Again, nothing about what Stafford did against the Seahawks was perfect. He was more imperfect than anything. What the Seattle game did prove is that Stafford is one tough cookie as he took a massive shot to the midsection early into the fourth quarter.
If that crushing shot looked especially brutal in real time, here’s a closer look at the blow:
Apparently the hit further unlocked Stafford’s clutch gene as he helped lead the Rams to 10 unanswered points in the final frame. The field goal miss on Seattle’s end had plenty of luck to it but that shouldn’t deny the heroics of Stafford late in the game. Before taking that hit, Stafford had started the game 10-of-20 for 80 yards. After the hit, he was a far different quarterback.
Since taking that vicious shot to the midsection on the deep interception, Matthew Stafford has gone 7 of 11 for 110 yards on a pair of scoring drives as the Rams turned a 16-7 deficit into a 17-16 lead.— Jeff Howe (@jeffphowe) November 20, 2023
For anyone still doubting how Matthew Stafford won a Super Bowl, take notes from his showing against the Seahawks. Stafford won a ring with pure grit and toughness. He’s been one of the toughest players in the NFL during his career and has shown it at points throughout the season.
One of these days, probably as soon as the 2024 offseason, LA will be having a tough conversation regarding Stafford. His play in ‘23 has been painfully mediocre and has left a lot to be desired. Once in a while, Stafford does just enough to get a win and he did exactly that in Week 11. The haters can stay (reasonably) quiet for another week.