DETROIT -- Matthew Stafford entered Sunday with numbers befitting a top-10 quarterback. He ranked in the statistical categories of yards per game, yards per completion and first down percentage. His team might not always play like it, but the Detroit Lions quarterback had been having one of the best seasons of his career.
He completed 25 of 32 passes for 342 yards, three touchdowns and one interception -- a bad throw, for sure -- but his only truly bad read on the day. He lofted the ball over Giants defenders. Threw balls into tight windows, including on Kenny Golladay’s first touchdown catch, where he squeezed it into a place where only Golladay could grab it.
Beyond those plays, though, it’s how this offense fits him midway into his first season with Darrell Bevell that stands out the most. The Lions use play-action enough for it to be effective for him (it was always a strength). They also are willing to take the deep shots -- he completed 2 of 6 passes 20 yards or further, including two touchdowns -- and was 6 of 7 when he worked between 10-and-20 yards.
He had complete command of the offense, leading to the his best passer rating of the season (129.4) and yet another reason why his game is continuing to grow in his relationship with his new coordinator.
Promising trend: The Lions brought pressure. And it kind of, sort of, worked. The Lions still didn’t blitz much, but they at least sent four rushers more often than not -- a departure from the three-man rushes Detroit used so often the first month of the season. The Lions got 12 pressures on the Giants according to Next Gen Stats and rediscovered how to use Jarrad Davis as a pass-rusher, as he picked up a couple of quarterback hits, a sack and found a way to use the delayed rush to his advantage. Trey Flowers also started to come alive with his second and third sacks of the season on back-to-back plays in the fourth quarter.
Cause for concern: Days after trading away Quandre Diggs, Detroit starting safety Tracy Walker left the game with 4:54 left in the third quarter with a right knee injury. He was taken immediately to the locker room and didn’t return to the game, despite being listed as questionable. Besides Walker having a strong season -- he was Detroit’s leading tackler -- if he misses any time, the Lions are down to veteran Tavon Wilson and a pair of rookies -- Will Harris and C.J. Moore -- at a position that a week ago was maybe the deepest on the roster.
Pivotal play: There could be a bunch of them, but the tricky pass-back pass that led to a 41-yard Golladay touchdown was the one that essentially ended the game. Matthew Stafford took the snap and pitched the ball right to J.D. McKissic. After taking a couple steps to draw the Giants’ defense away, McKissic threw the ball back to Stafford. The quarterback then had a bunch of time to hit Golladay on a 41-yard touchdown pass that beat New York safety Antoine Bethea by a couple of steps. It was a beautiful playcall by Bevell and a smart call to give the Lions a two-possession lead in the fourth quarter.