The Los Angeles Rams must send a thank you package to the Detroit Lions after clinching the opportunity to play in Super Bowl LVI.
However, winning the NFC Championship proves that the former Georgia standout wasn’t the problem in Detroit after all.
12 seasons of suffering prepared him for this opportunity to become a champion finally.
As a result, the gamble paid off for the Rams while the Lions seem to be constantly rebuilding.
Numbers Don’t Lie
Stafford should have made more Pro Bowls if not for the Lions’ organizational dysfunction.
They did draft Hall of Famer Calvin Johnson to give him an extraordinary target.
That lack of depth led to three playoff losses and a five-year postseason drought.
Matthew Stafford first year with the rams:
3 playoff wins
Super Bowl Appearance.
He was never the issue in Detroit. pic.twitter.com/BpFmgJSbrG
— 𝔇𝔢𝔱𝔯𝔬𝔦𝔱 𝗠𝗼𝗺𝗲𝗻𝘁𝘀 (@DetroitMoments) January 31, 2022
Detroit never had a dependable running game when he was commanding the offense.
Despite those disadvantages, Stafford kept playing well despite little help.
He had seven seasons of at least 4,000 yards, including 2011 when he threw for 5,038 yards.
Stafford also had a completion percentage of at least 60 percent in eight seasons.
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) January 31, 2022
The Texas native also became the fastest player to accumulate 45,000 passing yards and 3,000 completions.
The Lions will forever ponder what might have been if they built a solid team around Stafford.
They are lucky to have a talented player who didn’t ask for a trade but secretly hoped that their situation improved.
He played through injury, hoping to put the Lions in the best position to succeed.
When Matthew Stafford played through a hurt shoulder to score a game-winning touchdown.
— NFL (@NFL) January 27, 2022
Instead, the franchise squandered over a decade of a great quarterback’s career.
That’s why his success with the Rams comes as no surprise.
Immediate Transformation In Los Angeles
The Rams had reason to believe that they were one great quarterback from winning the franchise’s second Super Bowl.
For all of Goff’s accomplishments, head coach Sean McVay saw a better option under center.
It turned out he was correct when Stafford elevated the offense to another dimension.
His presence turned Cooper Kupp into one of the league’s elite receivers after leading the league in receptions, receiving yards, and touchdowns this season.
— First Take (@FirstTake) January 31, 2022
Stafford also set franchise records for touchdown passes (41), completions (404), and passing yards (4,886) in a single season.
However, he was at his best during the playoffs, especially against the San Francisco 49ers.
He refused to fail again, especially since he’s so close to fulfilling a lifelong dream.
He yearned to prove that he was more than the Lions quarterback who couldn’t get over the hump.
That mentality inspired him to will his troops in completing a fourth-quarter comeback.
January 30, 2021: #Rams trade for Matthew Stafford.
January 30, 2022: #Rams going to the Super Bowl.
— Ari Meirov (@MySportsUpdate) January 31, 2022
Come-from-behind victories are nothing new to him because he holds the league record for most fourth-quarter comebacks in a season with eight in 2016.
Just like then, Stafford performed in the clutch to win his third playoff game.
He will now enjoy home-field advantage when he leads the Rams in the biggest game of his career.
But this moment could have come earlier if the Lions only knew what they had in him.