Lions' Matthew Stafford moves past Bobby Layne

Josh Katzenstein
The Detroit News

London — Matthew Stafford is officially the most prolific quarterback in Lions history.

With 4:38 remaining in the third quarter of Sunday's game, Stafford threw a 59-yard touchdown pass to Golden Tate, breaking Bobby Layne's franchise record with his 119th career passing touchdown.

The score cut the Lions' deficit to 21-10 and was one of many catalysts for a comeback that ended in a 22-21 victory.

"First of all, I'm fired up I got to break it and win the game," Stafford said.

Stafford broke the record after moving forward in the pocket and hitting Tate with a bullet of a pass on 3rd-and-25, after Tate managed to run free behind safety Kemal Ishmael.

"On that play, third-and-extra long, our team needed a spark," Stafford said. "Coach calls an aggressive down the field shot, and I told everybody to keep running. I said, 'Hey, no matter what, just keep running.'

"I had a chance to step up in the pocket and saw the safety kind of flat-foot for a half second and then I just let one go. I tried to give Golden a chance. He ran underneath it, scored, and he dropped the ball, and I ran and got it."

Grabbing the ball was important for Stafford, who is now the franchise leader in passing touchdowns, attempts, completions and yards. When he broke Layne's yardage record last season, Calvin Johnson tossed the ball into the stands at Pittsburgh's Heinz Field, and even though Johnson gave it to a Lions fan, it was a process to recover the ball.

Stafford had a brilliant second half after being off-target in the first two quarters. In the first half, Stafford finished 9-of-20 for 85 yards and an interception, but in the second half, he was 15-of-27 for 240 yards and two touchdowns.

"Matt's pretty cool under pressure, so I knew we had a chance to get it done," coach Jim Caldwell said of the comeback.

Stafford, 26, is in his sixth season with the Lions after being the first overall pick in 2009. After dealing with injuries his first two years, Stafford has played in 56 consecutive games.

The next step in his Lions legacy would be to improve his 0-1 record in the postseason.

"It's going to mean a lot somewhere down the road," he said of the record. "Hopefully, it's not my last touchdown pass for the Lions. Hopefully, I've got a whole lot more coming. It's something pretty special."