London — Matthew Stafford will likely make history Sunday at Wembley Stadium.
In last Sunday’s win over the New Orleans Saints, the Lions' quarterback tied Bobby Layne’s franchise record with 118 career passing touchdowns. Considering he’s thrown at least one touchdown in 58 of his 68 games, it’s a safe bet he’ll fly home from London as the most prolific quarterback in team history.
It also helps that the Lions are facing an Atlanta Falcons team allowing 28.4 points per game, ranking 30th in the NFL.
During an NFL fan rally at Trafalgar Square Saturday, Stafford was asked about the record, but replied with his typical refrain when he breaks a record. Stafford, who's in his sixth season, already holds the franchise marks for career passing yards, attempts and completions.
“I think it’ll probably mean something when I’m all said and done; I’ll look back on (it),” he said. “During the course of the game, I’m just hoping whoever I throw it to doesn’t turn and throw the ball into to stands so I have to fight and go get it.”
The final point likely wasn’t meant to be a joke, but rather a warning to his pass catchers. On Nov. 17 last year, Stafford broke Layne’s record of 15,710 passing yards on a 79-yard touchdown pass to Calvin Johnson in the second quarter of a loss at Pittsburgh’s Heinz Field. After the play, Johnson tossed the ball into the crowd.
Lucky for the Lions, the fan who grabbed the ball was a Lions fan and lived in Metro Detroit, so eventually, the team recovered the ball. Retrieving a ball from one of the 80,000-plus fans at Wembley Stadium on Sunday might be a little more difficult.
“It’s going to be an honor, and it’ll be fun to celebrate,” Stafford said.