Matthew Stafford’s near perfect night led to a Detroit Lions victory and his third Game Ball of the 2015 season.
Matthew Stafford led the Detroit Lions to their fifth win in 2015 after a solid showing in New Orleans. Stafford didn’t light the world on fire, like he did on Thanksgiving, but he showed the confidence, decisiveness, and maturity you want in a team leader.
Matthew Stafford finished the game completing 22 of 25 passes for 254 yards, three touchdowns, zero interceptions, and a 148.6 passer rating. His 88% single-game completion percentage is a Lions record (minimum 20 attempts). He also moved into 66th place for all-time passing yards, moving ahead of Joe Theismann.
Stafford has been playing really solid football lately. Over the last four games Stafford has thrown 12 touchdowns and only one interception.
By spreading the ball around (completions to 9 different receivers), Stafford forced the Saints defense to cover sideline to sideline. This opened up the run game and allowed for a balanced offensive attack. This was the first game of the season where Ameer Abdullah and Joique Bell were each able to run for over 70 yards and a touchdown.
Stafford’s accuracy was on point this game but the Lions offense as a whole played well. “King of the YAC” (yards after catch) Golden Tate caught all six of his targets, scoring on two of them. Not to be outdone, Eric Ebron turned a five yard grab into a 45 yard play, showing his big play ability. Ebron finished with four receptions for 79 yards. Stafford’s third touchdown went to fullback Michael Burton, his first career receiving touchdown of his career.
Stafford’s stat line didn’t show the full impact of his night. While most of his yardage and all three touchdown’s came in the first half, it was his late fourth quarter drive that proved to be his most impressive. After a Saints touchdown that brought the game to within one score, Stafford executed several tough throws to set up the game winning score. When it mattered Stafford stepped up and took the game over.
Dec 21, 2015; New Orleans, LA, USA; Detroit Lions cornerbackDarius Slay
(23) breaks up a pass intended for New Orleans Saints wide receiverBrandin Cooks
(10) in the first second of the game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports
Jon Gruden couldn’t stop gushing over Darius Slay and deservedly so. He brought up the fact that its criminal that Slay is not on the Pro Bowl roster right now and featured him in highlights throughout the game.
Slay didn’t disappoint routinely shutting down the receiver lined up across from him. Finishing the game with seven tackles and two pass breakups, Slay was Gruden’s Grinder (player) of the game.
Another member of the secondary that is coming into his own is nickel back Quandre Diggs. Diggs had five tackles and one pass breakup, but dislodged several balls that would’ve been easy catches by Saints receivers.
Diggs seems to be flying all over the field lately and is establishing himself as a key player on the Lions defense. Diggs is looking like a steal as a sixth round pick in last years draft.
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Previous Game Ball winners:
Week 1: Ameer Abdullah
Week 2: Ezekiel Ansah
Week 3: Calvin Johnson
Week 4: Ezekiel Ansah (2)
Week 5: Theo Riddick
Week 6: Matthew Stafford
Week 7: Caraun Reid
Week 8: Matt Prater
Week 10: Martha Ford
Week 11: Darius Slay
Week 12: Matthew Stafford (2)
Week 13: Isa Abdul-Quddus
Week 14: Golden Tate