Matthew Stafford ready to lead Rams in playoff return to Detroit: ‘It’s going to be rocking’

Matthew Stafford led the Lions for 12 seasons before he was traded to the Rams after the 2020 season

Matthew Stafford’s return to Detroit couldn’t come at a bigger time.

Stafford and the Los Angeles Rams will travel to Ford Field next weekend for their first-round playoff matchup against the Lions — which will mark the first home playoff game in Detroit since 1994 and the first ever at Ford Field. Stafford was drafted by the Lions in 2009 and spent 12 seasons with the team before he was traded to the Rams.

"Exciting for this team just to get to where we are right now, to be honest with you," Stafford said Sunday after the Rams’ win over the San Francisco 49ers, via ESPN. "So many people out there didn't think we'd get to this point, and the ability to get to this point is a true testament to everybody in this locker room — coaches, everybody. It's awesome.

"The opportunity happens to be in Detroit, which is fun for me on a personal level. ... I know it's going to be rocking there. Haven't had a playoff game there about 30 years or whatever it is. So it'll be a great atmosphere. It'll be a tough task for us, but definitely excited."

Stafford was traded to the Rams after the 2020 campaign in exchange for Jared Goff, who led the Lions to their first divisional title in three decades this season. Stafford reached the playoffs three different times with the Lions but lost all three times on the road. He won a Super Bowl with the Rams in his first season.

Goff is in a similar boat. After the Rams selected him No. 1 overall in 2016 and he reached the Super Bowl with the Rams, he’ll now get to host his former team.

The Lions will host the Rams in their first round playoff matchup on Sunday night, marking the first playoff game in Detroit in three decades.
The Lions will host Matthew Stafford and the Rams in their first-round playoff matchup on Sunday, marking the first playoff game in Detroit in three decades. (Mike Lawrence/Getty Images)

"It will be fun to see some of the people that I haven't seen in a while, that I know are still around the building," Stafford said. "And obviously, it'll be a different scenario and won't be wearing their colors. But still, appreciate so many of the people there that gave me my start in this league and took care of me for 12 years, too."

Stafford threw for 3,965 yards and had 25 touchdowns with 11 interceptions this season, his third with the Rams. The 35-year-old did not play in Sunday’s 21-20 win in Santa Clara, as the Rams had already locked in their spot in the postseason and couldn’t improve their standing.

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Matthew Stafford
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2023 - 2024 season
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Carson Wentz started in his place against the 49ers and went 17-of-24 for 163 yards with two touchdowns and an interception in the win. He was also the team's leading rusher, with 56 yards and a touchdown. The 49ers rested many of their starters, too, as they had already secured the top seed in the NFC.

The Rams ended the regular season on a four-game winning streak, and they won seven of their last eight games to make it to the playoffs. The only loss in that stretch was in overtime to the Baltimore Ravens, who earned the top seed in the AFC.

“I'm really excited about Matthew leading us. He's done a great job this year,” head coach Sean McVay said, via ESPN. “Proud of this football team, and let's see if we can put together our best game plan, put together a great week of preparation, and then let's see if we can go put it together for all four quarters, let it all hang out and see what the hell happens."