Lions' Stafford plays it cool, but remembers slights

Justin Rogers
The Detroit News
Matthew Stafford.

Allen Park — Matthew Stafford will tell you he doesn’t pay attention to the national buzz about his recent performance, the early season MVP talk. That’s what the Lions quarterback is supposed to say. But as much as he tries to bury his head in the sand, to not revel in the praise, he can’t help but take some satisfaction in proving his detractors wrong.

Stafford tries to play it cool, the way he handles himself in the huddle when a game is on the line, but every once in a while, he will slip and harken back to some past slight.

Earlier this year, when asked how much pride he had in his consecutive starter streak dating back to 2011, he took a little jab at the reporters in the room.

“(It’s) something that everybody here wanted to write me off about my first two years, had a lot of fun writing articles on that,” he said.

Now that national analysts are trumpeting his accomplishments, Stafford isn’t getting caught up in the wave of good will.

“I don’t pay too much attention to it,” he said. “I’ve had 5,000-yard seasons and 40 touchdowns, and didn’t sniff the Pro Bowl for it, so I don’t really care. I just go play for the guys in that locker room, that’s all that matters to me.”

There it is again. A past slight, not forgotten.

Whether the former criticisms, or lack of recognition, serve as deep-seeded motivations or not, the results are clear — Stafford is playing the best ball of his career. He’s completing better than 68 percent of his passes with a 15-4 touchdown-to-interception ratio. Most importantly, he’s led the Lions to three straight wins, orchestrating a game-winning drive in the closing minutes of each victory.

He also understands this recent love can be fleeting if the team were to return to its losing ways.

“Seems to be the way it goes,” he said. “I think in this business it has a lot to do with what you’ve done lately, and I understand that. That’s part of it, so I just try to play as good as I can as often as I can.”

Twitter: @Justin_Rogers

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