When Matthew Stafford walked into SoFi Stadium, he didn’t miss the plethora of Detroit Lions fans who donned jerseys from his time with his former team.
“It was humbling,” Stafford said. “It was really nice to see. Driving into the stadium today, I saw a few (Lions jerseys) walking around and thought to myself that it was good to see. I really appreciated it. I’ve said it a bunch of times, and I truly mean it, I loved my time there.”
The veteran quarterback, in his first year with the Los Angeles Rams, knew Sunday would be a new experience. For the first time in his career, he was on a sideline opposite the team in Honolulu Blue.
No matchup remaining on the Rams’ schedule will carry the same weight for the team’s quarterback. Now that Detroit is in his rearview mirror, Stafford can focus simply on playing.
“It’s been a little bit of a whirlwind,” Stafford said. “I’m just trying to make sure I’m as prepared as I can every day to come in and help us win. Am I happy it’s over with? Yeah. I’ve got a lot of great friends, people that I care about that are on that team and are from that city. Just glad to have this one over with and put the storylines away and just go out and play football the rest of the year.”
Stafford spent the first 12 years of his NFL career with the Detroit Lions, but faced them for the first time as a Los Angeles Ram Sunday. He was victorious, as his team won, 28-19, and he led a patented fourth-quarter comeback that fans from his former team are all too familiar with.
In 12 years with the Lions, Stafford went 74-90-1 as the team’s starter. His first year as Los Angeles' starting signal-caller has started 6-1.
Before the game, the former Lions QB visited with his former team’s owner, Shelia Ford Hamp, and president, Rod Wood.
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“It was good to see them,” Stafford said.
Though the emotions were lingering pregame, Stafford turned the focus to the game once the ball was kicked off. The Lions came out kicking, using a sequence of a touchdown, onside kick and fake punt to take a 10-0 lead.
L.A.’s new quarterback finished 28-for-41 for 331 yards and three touchdowns, including the game-winner to Cooper Kupp in the fourth quarter. Despite storylines emerging that this game may mean more to him than others, the 13th-year pro said the goal was the same as any other matchup.
“I want to have a really good game every time I step out there,” Stafford said. “So, there was nothing extra to be honest. I just want to do whatever I’ve got to do to help us win.”
After the game, Stafford visited with many of his former Lions teammates, including T.J. Hockenson, Jalen Reeves-Maybin and D’Andre Swift.
In his postgame press conference, he expressed his passion for Detroit fans. He acknowledged the importance of their loyalty and what that has meant to him and his family, as well as his appreciation for the Lions fans who made the trip.
“I love all the people there that treated me, my family, my wife with a ton of respect and a ton of grace for a long time,” Stafford said. “It was cool to see that. Once the ball was snapped, it was football time, and I was ready to go play. But, it was cool to see some of the stuff going around.”