JEFF SEIDEL: Lions QB Stafford’s bulldozer run fun to watch, but foolish

Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford dropped back to pass.

Nobody open.

So he rumbled toward the line of scrimmage.

Like a Mack truck without any brakes.

Instead of doing the sane thing, the normal thing, like sliding, Stafford lowered his left shoulder and trucked Tennessee Titans cornerback Perrish Cox.

Just flat out abused him.

Cox crumbled in a heap. Can you imagine a worse moment for a cornerback? Getting flattened by a quarterback?

Stafford kept going and took a hard hit as he was brought down.

Now, there are several things to love about that play. Nobody will ever question Stafford’s toughness, or drive, or determination, or heart. He is a pure competitor who lacks any fear. And it’s fun to watch a quarterback who plays the game like that.

On the other hand, it was absolute foolishness. The risk of getting hurt far outweighs the reward.

“I’m just playing out there,” Stafford said, after a 16-15 loss against Tennessee.

Then, he quickly acknowledged, “there are times I gotta be smarter.”

At another point in this game, Stafford went downfield and threw some blocks for his teammates.

“I look around and everybody is working so dang hard to get yards and try to score points and I figured I’d jump into the action,” Stafford said. “I’ll try to keep out of the fray a little bit more.”

Clearly, this is not part of the Lions’ plan.

“I was just playing, man,” he said. “I’m sure Jim Bob (Cooter) and Coach Caldwell will not be too happy about it, but I’m just trying to help do everything I can to score. But we didn’t get it done today.”

It was such a strange game. The officials were flag happy, penalizing the Lions 17 times. But when Stafford was hit by a defender, who crawled across the turf and nailed his legs, there was no flag.

Stafford limped around the field, yelling at the officials. Showing that fire.

He was upset, and justifiably so. It should have been a penalty.

“Just felt like I got hit low,” Stafford said. “He (the referee) told me that if he wraps up, that’s it’s OK, so I don’t know that rule well enough apparently.”

Stafford had some moments of brilliance in this game.

He threw a 24-yard touchdown to Anquan Boldin that was a thing of beauty. Stafford was rolling to his left. He seemed to point at Boldin, quickly directing him. Stafford threw to the open space – showing off his cannon — and Boldin found the ball.

But he also failed. Overthrowing receivers. Missing plays. And at the end of the game, Stafford failed to deliver another comeback; he threw an interception.

“Guy made a good play,” Stafford said. “He was guarding Anquan (Boldin) on the outside and just kind of sloughed off, and that’s one. (Eric) Ebron had some tough outside leverage, so he kind of had to cut his route short and it was right job by him. Obviously, hindsight’s 20-20. I wish I wouldn’t have thrown it. But he was guarding somebody else and came off and made the play.”

After the game, Stafford acknowledged that he was banged up.

“I’ll be OK,’ He said. “You know, obviously, it’s shortly after a game, so it’s never feeling my best, but I’ll be fine when it comes to next Sunday.”

Yes, Stafford is a competitor.

But there is a fine line between taking a risk and being foolish.

And lowering a shoulder against a defensive back just doesn’t make sense.

If Stafford gets hurt, this season is over. For everybody.

Contact Jeff Seidel at jseidel@freepress.com, or follow him on Twitter@seideljeff.

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Posted by Tribune News Services

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