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Week 9: Detroit Lions QB Matthew Stafford leaps to another level via gutsy call against Dallas Cowboys
October 31, 2013 - Matt Wellens
Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson lived up to his nickname of “Megatron” on Sunday in a 31-30 victory over the Dallas Cowboys at Ford Field.
Catching 14 passes for 329 yards and a touchdown — just ignore that little fumble — Johnson showed he’s the Adrian Peterson of wide receivers in the NFL.
As amazing as Johnson was on Sunday, however, he was not the game’s MVP.
And neither was Cowboys’ loud-mouth, Megatron-wannabe Dez Bryant.
That honor belonged to the man throwing the ball to Megatron all day — quarterback Matthew Stafford.
With 62 seconds left, Stafford orchestrated a game-winning drive that elevated him to a new level in the hierarchy of NFL quarterbacks. Stafford completed passes of 17 and 22 yards to Johnson, plus a 40-yard laser to Kris Durham in the drive.
The latter Johnson pass set up first-and-goal from the 1 and the 40-yard pass to Durham in between Johnson’s catches was the most impressive ball Stafford threw all day.
Then with the clock running down, but still plenty of time to get a few plays in following a spike, Stafford rushed his team to the Cowboys’ 1, gesturing to everyone that he was going to kill the clock.
Only Stafford didn’t. What he did do was pure brilliance.
Noticing the Cowboys linebackers “were just standing there,” Stafford went rogue by ignoring his own instructions. Instead of spiking the ball, Stafford dove over his own confused offensive line and an even more bewildered defensive line to score the game-winning TD.
And for good measure, he ran the ball in as well, just to be safe, while everyone else on the field — Lions and Cowboys — stood shellshocked over what Stafford had done.
Of all the quarterbacks in the NFL, I can only picture two with the awareness and guts to do what Stafford did — Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady — but I’m not even positive they’d make that dive in similar circumstances.
That dive was a key moment for Stafford. He may not have jumped in with the likes of Brady, Rodgers, Drew Brees or Peyton Manning just yet. He’ll need a Super Bowl ring to do that.
But I do feel safe saying he’s surpassed the Cowboys’ Tony Romo and proven he’s the next big thing under center, not Seattle’s Russell Wilson, San Francisco’s Colin Kaepernick or Indianapolis’ Andrew Luck.
He leaped over all of them with a simple, gutsy, game-winning call.
Now onto my picks, which each week will include a short analysis on the Packers’ and Lions’ games, plus the prime-time games on NFL Network, NBC and ESPN.
The Lions have a bye and the Packers are on Monday Night Football, so there will be a few wild cards thrown in for my big games this week.
8:40 p.m. Monday, ESPN
It’s time the Chicago Bears begin looking at what life could be like minus Jay Cutler, who continues to go the opposite way of Stafford. Packers 34, Bears 12
8:25 p.m. Thursday, NFL Network
After starting the year 3-0, the Dolphins have crashed back to reality and lost four straight. Bengals will make it five. Bengals 21, Dolphins 18
1 p.m. Sunday, FOX
As awesome as Stafford’s dive was, the Cowboys‘ apathy was equally embarrassing, if not more. Thankfully for them, they get the NFL’s kings of apathy this week to rebound. Cowboys 28, Vikings 24
1 p.m. Sunday, CBS
Next week everyone will be picking the Broncos to derail the Chiefs’ undefeated season. I’m going out on a limb and saying it happens this weekend in Buffalo. Bills 17, Chiefs 16
8:30 p.m. Sunday, NBC
The Texans have been my biggest disappointment this year, but what do you expect from a team that seems to despise starting QB Matt Schaub? Colts 27, Texans 17
Here are the rest of my picks with winners in bold:
Falcons at Panthers
Saints at Jets
Titans at Rams
Chargers at Redskins
Eagles at Raiders
Buccaneers at Seahawks
Ravens at Browns
Steelers at Patriots
Last week: 10-3.
Matt Wellens is Sports Editor of the Mining Journal. Check out his Armchair QB column every Thursday at www.miningjournal.net and follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/mattwellens. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) celebrates scoring on a 1-yard touchdown run against the Dallas Cowboys in the fourth quarter of an NFL football game in Detroit, Sunday, Oct. 27, 2013. (AP Photo/Rick Osentoski)