Lions’ Stafford shows he’s not afraid to rush it

Josh Katzenstein
The Detroit News
Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford scrambles in the second quarter. He rushed for a career-high 37 yards in Sunday's victory against the Bears.

Matthew Stafford made some key passes to help lead the Lions to a win Sunday, but he also displayed an aspect of his game that’s been mostly non-existent during his seven-year career in the NFL.

With 37 rushing yards, Stafford set a new career high in a win over the Bears. Among his six runs, which also tied a career high achieved in four previous games, were two 10-yard runs to convert third downs and an 11-yarder that gave Matt Prater a shorter field-goal try — a 39-yarder — to give the Lions a 24-16 lead late in the third quarter.

“It was very good,” coach Jim Caldwell said of Stafford’s rushing Sunday. “Obviously he was very effective in that area, had some really good runs and he wasn’t hesitant. There was a couple that he saw open up. … So those were timely and needed.”

Stafford’s 37 rushing yards contributed to the Lions season-high 155 yards on the ground, more than doubling their best run output of 69 yards from Week 1. His 11-yard run and the pair of 10-yarders were his longest of 2015, and Stafford’s rushing total would’ve been higher had he not intentionally lost three yards in setting up Prater’s winning field goal in overtime — the Lions gladly accepted that negative play.

But, don’t expect Stafford to start scrambling as much as he did Sunday. From 2011-14 when he started all 16 games, Stafford never ranked higher than 18th in rushing among quarterbacks, reaching that mark with a career-high 126 yards in 2012.

Stafford’s previous career high for rushing yards was 31, which he set on Nov. 24, 2011 in a home loss to the Green Bay Packers.

Despite Stafford’s runs providing a lift to the offense Sunday, Caldwell said he’d prefer the quarterback gains yards with his right arm moving forward.

“Personally, I think we still want to do it judiciously because anytime you start getting a quarterback that runs around a whole lot, it’s pretty clear what happens to them in this league,” Caldwell said.