Matthew Stafford’s numbers prove he played exceptionally well against the Detroit Lions in the wild-card game: 25-for-36, 367 yards, two touchdowns and no turnovers. He put on a show in his return to Detroit, but it unfortunately wasn’t enough to lift the Rams to victory.
As impressive as the stats are, the film makes his performance even better.
Ted Nguyen of The Athletic shared a cutup of Stafford’s best throws on Sunday night and he was absolutely dealing. Sidearm, no-look, deep balls. You name it, he pulled it off.
Here’s a look at some of Stafford’s most eye-popping plays from the Rams’ 24-23 loss to the Lions, starting with a no-looker to Puka Nacua over the middle where he freezes Aidan Hutchinson in coverage and throws Nacua open in behind him.
Matthew Stafford, trick shot extraordinaire pic.twitter.com/4I6XixtWOE
— Ted Nguyen (@FB_FilmAnalysis) January 16, 2024
His touchdown throw to Tutu Atwell was even better than it looked on the broadcast angle because he threw the receiver open by leading him far enough away from the defender despite releasing the ball while the two were still tied up at the 25-yard line.
One thing’s clear from these clips: Stafford doesn’t do no-look throws for style points. They’re actually effective in manipulating defenders and leading them to a spot where they think he’s throwing, only to zip the pass in behind them.
There’s no question Stafford had been playing some of the best football of his career at the end of the season and it’s just unfortunate we won’t get to see more of these insane throws in the playoffs.