Lions QB Matthew Stafford: Finger still will be an issue in playoffs
Stafford threw for 347 yards and two touchdowns, but also an interception in Sunday's loss to Packers
Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford is headed to the playoffs for the third time in his eight NFL seasons, and he'll take his modified glove with him.
Stafford said after Sunday's 31-24 loss to the Green Bay Packers that he'll play this postseason with the same protective device on his injured right middle finger that he's worn the last three weeks.
The Lions visit the Seattle Seahawks on Saturday night in an NFC wild card game having lost three straight games. Stafford dislocated the tip of the middle finger on his throwing hand in the first quarter of a Week 14 win over the Chicago Bears, then played through the injury the last three weeks in losses to the New York Giants, Dallas Cowboys and Packers.
Lions coach Jim Caldwell has repeatedly downplayed the impact that Stafford's injury has had on his performance.
"I think I've said all along, this guy has thrown millions of balls without a glove on his hand or without an apparatus on his finger," Caldwell said Sunday. "It's naive for me to think that doesn't have some kind of an effect. It does. But does it keep us from winning? No. Did he throw a lot of great balls? Absolutely."
Stafford completed 26 of 41 passes for 347 yards and two touchdowns Sunday, but he also threw his fifth interception in the 15 quarters since he suffered the injury.
In the first 12-plus games of the season, Stafford threw just five picks.
On Sunday, Stafford led two second-quarter touchdown drives then didn't get the Lions into the end zone again until he threw a Hail Mary touchdown to Anquan Boldin with 13 seconds to play. He indicated he thought there should have been a pass-interference penalty on his interception, a back-shoulder throw to Golden Tate that Micah Hyde picked off near the goal line.
"It was a tough call," Stafford said. "We got to be aggressive at that point, try to take a shot, throw a back-shoulder ball and you’re going to get some of those calls, you’re going to not."
Caldwell argued vociferously with officials after the interception to no avail.
"He moved the ball down the field and did some things nice, but you've got to overcome some things," Caldwell said. "I think that's just the way the game is. You don't look for excuses. Excuses are tools of incompetence. They're used by monuments of nothingness. Those who specialize in them are seldom good at anything else, so we don't look for any excuses. We're in the winning business."