Matthew Stafford's 5 Best Memories with the Lions

These 5 memories are why Matthew Stafford is viewed as one of the best Detroit Lions quarterbacks in recent memory.
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Matthew Stafford's time as a member of the Detroit Lions has potentially come to an end. 

If the Lions' 2020 season finale against the Minnesota Vikings Sunday was indeed his last game under center with the team that drafted him No. 1 overall in 2009, he'll have left behind an impressive legacy, consisting of various accolades and positive moments.

Without further ado, let's count down now the five best memories from Stafford's 12 years in the Motor City. 

5.) His comeback against the Cleveland Browns in 2009 

Stafford left an indelible mark on the Detroit fanbase in a Week 11 contest against the Browns during his rookie campaign. 

He led the Lions to a come-from-behind win in the tilt -- the first fourth-quarter comeback and game-winning drive of his NFL career -- despite having injured his shoulder on the second-to-last play of the final drive.

He eluded team doctors, and got back under center after taking the injury-causing hit delivered by then-Browns defensive lineman C.J. Mosley. On that same play, a defensive pass interference penalty was called against Cleveland, resulting in one last play for Stafford & Co. with 0:00 on the clock. 

Stafford took advantage of the extra play, and rifled a one-yard pass to then-Detroit tight end Brandon Pettigrew for the game-winning TD.

The legend of Matthew Stafford was officially born on this day -- Nov. 22, 2009.

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4.) His 5,000-yard passing season in 2011 

He had only played in three games the year prior due to injury, and proceeded to take the league by storm in his third season as a pro.

He threw for a career-high 41 touchdowns and 5,038 yards -- the only season of his 12-year career in which he's surpassed 5,000 yards -- en route to his first of three postseason appearances. 

He's one of only eight quarterbacks in NFL history to have reached the 5,000-yard threshold in a single season. 

His 2011 campaign also included a Week 17 performance against the Green Bay Packers, which was one for the ages. 

Although it resulted in a 45-41 loss for the Lions, he finished the contest with a career-best 520 passing yards and five touchdown passes. 

It put the bow on a regular season that saw Stafford -- only 23 years old at the time -- win the Associated Press' NFL Comeback Player of the Year award.

3.) Fastest to 40,000 and 45,000 passing yards in NFL history 

It's a feat he achieved in Week 7 of last season (his 148th career game), when he threw for 364 yards and four touchdowns against the Minnesota Vikings. 

The 40,000-yard passing club is an exclusive one that includes 21 other quarterbacks, including the Saints' Drew Brees and the Buccaneers' Tom Brady (No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, in all-time passing yards).

Stafford presently possesses 45,109 career passing yards, good for 16th all-time. He sits one spot ahead of former four-time Pro Bowl quarterback Drew Bledsoe and one spot behind former two-time Pro Bowl passer Vinny Testaverde.

He reached 45K passing yards against the same foe that he reached 40K against -- the Vikings (Week 17 of 2020). 

He accomplished the mark in just 165 career games, the fewest needed to achieve the feat in the history of the league. 

Stafford's lack of postseason success is always going to be a part of the narrative when it comes to his time in Detroit. 

However, individual accolades, like the ones above, still are highly impressive, and can never be taken away from him. 

2.) The fake spike against the Dallas Cowboys in 2013 

It was the fake spike heard 'round the world.

It came in a Week 8 contest in 2013 against Stafford's hometown team in the Dallas Cowboys.

Subsequently, you know that Stafford came into this matchup with a little more adrenaline rushing through his veins and with the intention of leaving Cowboys owner Jerry Jones with something to remember about his performance that day.

And boy, did he do so.

With 1:02 remaining and Detroit trailing, 30-24, Stafford and the Lions' offense gained possession, after a 44-yard field goal from then-Dallas kicker Dan Bailey.

Stafford had a chance to lead the Lions down the field for the game-winning touchdown, and he proceeded to do just that and in dramatic fashion.

The longtime Detroit franchise QB completed five passes for 79 yards during the drive. But, the biggest play on this possession wasn't one of the passes. 

Instead, it was a decision he made after completing a 22-yard pass to Lions great Calvin Johnson, which brought the ball to the Dallas one-yard line. 

Everyone watching the game at Ford Field and on TV that day would've put money on No. 9 spiking the ball on the next play, with the clock still running and no timeouts remaining for Detroit.

Yet, Stafford went off script, and successfully faked the spike and snuck in the end zone for the game-deciding score.

The result was an eruption of pandemonium for the Lions fans gathered at Ford Field that day. 

And, it's a moment that will easily go down as one of the best in Stafford's tenure in Motown.

1.) Eight fourth-quarter comebacks in 2016 

It ain't ever over until the clock hits 0:00 with No. 9 under center.

In totality, he's delivered 31 fourth-quarter comebacks in his NFL career, including three this past season, according to Pro Football Reference.

Rolling back the tape to 2016, you'll find that all of Stafford's NFL-record eight fourth-quarter comebacks that season included game-winning drives orchestrated by No. 9.

And, his best performance of the eight came in Week 1 of the season, when he completed 79 percent of his passes and threw for 340 yards and three touchdowns in a 39-35 come-from-behind victory over Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts.

Additionally, Stafford ripped off fourth-quarter comebacks in three straight games two separate times over the course of the campaign -- Weeks 5-7 and the team's ninth-11th games of the season.

Those games provided a huge sampling of "vintage" Stafford for the Lions fanbase to consume. 

And, although the season concluded with a disappointing 26-6 loss to the Seattle Seahawks in the wild card round of the playoffs, it's a season that won't soon be forgotten by the long-suffering fans of the franchise.

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