The Lions moved to 9-4 today and remain in strong position to clinch their first NFC North championship, but the franchise’s degree of difficulty looks to have been raised. Matthew Stafford will be required to throw with a glove on his hand due to tearing multiple ligaments in his right middle finger, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reports.
The eighth-year quarterback also dislocated the finger, per Schefter, with the top of it bent downwards “at a 90-degree angle” with the passer having no control over the top part of it at present, Michael Rothstein of ESPN.com notes.
Rothstein points out Stafford intends to play through this malady, one that could well sideline many players. Stafford injured the finger during a first-quarter play on which he was called for intentional grounding, but his throwing hand collided with Bears pass-rusher Leonard Floyd, resulting in Stafford putting a glove on to manage it the rest of the way. Although he threw a touchdown pass to Anquan Boldin and gave the Lions a lead they didn’t relinquish with a touchdown run, leading Detroit to another comeback victory, Stafford said postgame the injury affected his grip and the velocity of his throws.
“Just tried to play through it,” Stafford said, via Rothstein. “Play as good as I could. I let those guys know that it may not be pretty coming in there, but those guys made some great plays for me. Obviously didn’t play as well as I can.”
Stafford completed 21-of-35 passes for 223 yards and threw two interceptions in addition to his TD toss. He has dealt with this kind of setback before. During the 2011 season, the former No. 1 overall pick fractured the index finger on his throwing hand and wore a glove. Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press points out he threw four interceptions in his first game with the glove that year and five more in the ensuing two contests. However, Stafford finished that season with a glowing stat line — 41 touchdown passes and 5,038 air yards — during a campaign in which the Lions qualified for the playoffs.
Seeking their second playoff berth in three years and first division title in 23 seasons, the Lions close the season with games against the Giants, Cowboys and Packers.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.