Stafford nears top of opposing QB list again
Every year, one quarterback throws for more yards against the Packers than any other.
For three years running, that honor has belonged to Matthew Stafford. Should he make it four in a row, he'll break the record he shares with two legends who gave Green Bay fits in other places and other times.
The Detroit Lions visit Lambeau Field this week. They are seeking their first win on Wisconsin soil in 23 years. They are on a quest for their first divisional title since 1993.
It was six years ago to the day that the Lions ended their season at Lambeau. Winless coming in, they dropped a 31-21 decision to become the first 0-16 team in NFL history.
Four months later, Detroit used the first pick in the draft to select Stafford. While Stafford's first two seasons were cut short by injury, he has become the definition of reliability since starting a team-record 63 straight regular-season games at quarterback.
Charged with leading a franchise that had the worst record (42-118; .263) over the first decade of this century, Stafford was called upon to do more. As the talent around him improved, his workload lightened, but his career passing yardage remains high.
This season, Aaron Rodgers set the NFL record for most yards passing by a quarterback (27,520) in his first 100 starts. If Stafford maintains his pace, he will have 28,286 yards by the time he reaches 100 starts.
In 2011, Stafford passed for a team-record 5,038 yards. He set the NFL record for most passes attempted (727) in a season in 2012. His 4,967 yards that year led the league.
In 2013, he amassed 4,650 yards. He and Drew Brees are the only quarterbacks in NFL history to have exceeded 4,500 yards in three consecutive seasons. Stafford likely won't make it four in a row. His 4,040 yards this season leave him 460 yards short.
Stafford has put up more than his share of numbers against the Packers. His output over the past three seasons has been particularly noteworthy.
In 2011, Stafford completed 68 of 104 passes for 796 yards against the Packers. Those totals broke the records of Tommy Kramer (57 completions in 1981), Trent Dilfer (90 attempts in 1995) and Randall Cunningham (709 yards in 1998).
A year later, Stafford passed for 530 yards to finish ahead of Brees (446) for the most passing yards against the Packers. In 2013, his 592 yards were far more than the 412 of runner-up Colin Kaepernick.
This season, Jay Cutler leads the way with 528 yards passing against the Packers. Stafford needs 283 yards to cast him aside and move into the No. 1 spot for a fourth time.
Sid Luckman (1943-45) and Johnny Unitas (1962-64) both had streaks of three straight. Luckman gave way to Paul Christmas in 1946 while Unitas stepped aside for John Brodie in 1965.
Stafford is certainly capable of attaining the necessary yards. He's averaged nearly 350 in three starts at Lambeau Field, including a record 520 in a 45-41 loss on Jan. 1, 2012.
Bobby Layne quarterbacked the Lions from 1950-58. He was the starter when Detroit won 10 straight over Green Bay from 1950-54.
In 17 games against the Packers, Layne passed for 2,717 yards. That's the record for a Lions passer.
With 341 yards, Stafford will supplant Layne. Sunday is Stafford's ninth game against the Packers.
■Stafford (2011-13) and Unitas (1959, 1960, 1963) are the only players to have thrown for 500 or more yards against the Packers in three different seasons. Stafford needs 254 yards Sunday to become the first to four.
■Fran Tarkenton holds the career record for most yards passing (4,978) against the Packers. Stafford (2,377) has some work to do before claiming that record.
Quarterbacks with the most consecutive seasons in which they threw for more yards against the Packers than all other passers that season.
Norm Van Brocklin
Overall: Green Bay leads 94-67-7.
At Lambeau Field: Packers lead 30-10-3.
Packers: Aaron Rodgers (69-33 overall; 9-2 vs. Detroit).
Lions: Matthew Stafford (35-41; 2-6 vs. Green Bay).
ONCE A LION, NOW A PACKER
ONCE A PACKER, NOW A LION
Wide receiver Jeremy Ross (2012-13).