The game had more twists and turns than any in recent memory, but the Lions fell short of a historic comeback in New Orleans. We offer our takeaways on the game.
New Orleans — It’s not clear at what point the Lions would have taken Matthew Stafford out of the game, but a 35-point deficit with more a little more than 23 minutes remaining wasn’t the answer.
Stafford entered the game questionable due to an injured ankle, and appeared to suffer a chest injury after taking a hit in the third quarter. At that point, it seemed nonsensical to leave the franchise quarterback in harm’s way.
But the Lions' faith in Stafford’s ability to lead a comeback, even one that would have been the largest in NFL history, led to sticking with him, and the team was nearly rewarded for it.
“You are always, during the course of the game, really considering a lot of different things,” coach Jim Caldwell said. “One thing that we certainly knew is that we had a chance to bring it back. Nobody else in this universe probably thought so, except for the guys in that locker room.
Stafford threw a pair of touchdown passes in the third quarter, and special teams and defensive scores drew the Lions within seven points before the Saints put the game away with a third defensive touchdown.
To the surprise of no one, Stafford never considered leaving the game, ceding the second half of the blowout (at the time) to backup Jake Rudock.
“No, absolutely not,” Stafford said. “The quarterback of this team will fight ‘til three zeroes are on the clock. That is the attitude that our team has. That is the attitude that I have. No matter how I am feeling, I am going to be out there and trying to help us win.”
Stafford declined to comment on a potential chest/rib injury. He did say the ankle wasn’t an issue.
“Ankle felt great,” he said. “I felt like I was moving around enough. Got that first down on the scramble early in the game, was able to move. The bye week, as far as my body goes, is coming at a good time. There is no question about that.