Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford is one of the most under-appreciated players in the entire league. He’s done nothing but make plays and put up stats for years, yet he only has a single Pro Bowl on his resume. What he does on a regular basis is nothing short of awesome, and there’s one specific play against the Dallas Cowboys that sums that up pretty perfectly.
Back on October 27, 2013, the Lions were hosting the Cowboys at Ford Field. It was a strong NFC showdown at the time with plenty of star power, including Stafford, Calvin Johnson, Tony Romo and Dez Bryant.
The NFL game proved to be a fourth-quarter shootout for the ages with 41 combined points, and it was capped off with a fake spike by Stafford that literally no one saw coming.
Matthew Stafford Fake Spike vs. Cowboys
After scoring a touchdown late in the first quarter, the Lions’ offense went quiet. They were moving the ball some, primarily with Johnson (326 receiving yards) and running back Reggie Bush (122 total yards), but points were hard to come by.
Then, the fourth quarter happened, the game exploded, and Stafford completed a gutsy comeback on a touchdown run with 12 seconds remaining. How the last drive happened, and especially ended, is what Detroit fans still talk about.
With just over a minute to play on Detroit’s 20-yard line, Stafford led the Lions down the field beautifully with no timeouts. He completed passes to Bush (0 yards) and Johnson (17 yards) before spiking the ball to stop the clock and regroup on the sidelines. He then found wide receiver Kris Durham (40 yards) and Johnson again (22 yards).
Johnson was ruled short of the goal line. The clock was still running. Stafford rushed everyone up to the line of scrimmage to spike it again. But instead of putting it on the turf, Stafford kept the ball himself, reached over the goal line and into the end zone for the touchdown.
David Akers cashed the extra point. The comeback was complete.
Oddly enough, the fake spike from the one-yard line was not by design. It was something Stafford did all on his own. Those things don’t always have a great result, especially reaching over the linemen like that, but this did. The Lions beat the Cowboys, and it will never be forgotten.
Say what you want about Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, or any quarterback taken in the NFL Draft. Stafford will always be overlooked, but there’s no doubt he owns one of the more deceiving trick plays in league history.
This post was originally published on May 7, 2020.