Before becoming quarterback of the Los Angeles Rams ahead of the 2021-22 season, Matthew Stafford spent 12 years with the Detroit Lions. With an 0-3 record in postseason appearances over the course of his time in Detroit, Stafford became saddled with the reputation of a talented quarterback who could not win games when it mattered most.
In one season in Los Angeles, Stafford has flipped that script. With a comeback 20-17 win over the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship in which Stafford made big-time throws, recorded 337 yards and two touchdowns, the Rams have won three straight postseason contests. In the game against the 49ers, Stafford led his 44th career game-winning drive (including playoffs), which puts him in eighth place all time. The stage for Super Bowl LVI is set with the Los Angeles Rams poised to take on the Cincinnati Bengals at SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles on Sunday, Feb. 13. The game will be broadcast live on NBC and Peacock.
Matthew Stafford’s time as QB of the Detroit Lions
In order to appreciate Stafford’s turnaround, it is important to consider the losing seasons that preceded his time in Los Angeles. After a standout career at the University of Georgia, Stafford was the No.1 draft pick in the 2009 NFL Draft by the Lions. He took over starting quarterback duties immediately, starting under center in Week 1 of the 2009 season. While Stafford did not make a lasting impact in the postseason for Detroit, he rewrote the Lions’ record books. His 45,109 passing yards are first in franchise history, nearly 30,000 more than the second QB and his 282 touchdown passes are more than 150 away from second.
That individual success never blossomed to the team level though. During Stafford’s 12 years with the Lions, Detroit posted a winning record just four times and reached the playoffs just three times, never clinching a division title and never advancing beyond the Wild Card round.
Matthew Stafford traded from the Detroit Lions to the Los Angeles Rams
At 33 years old and after 12 years with one team, Stafford became part of the biggest offseason trade in the NFL following the conclusion of the 2020 season. The Lions traded Stafford to the Rams in exchange for QB Jared Goff and first-round picks in 2022 and 2023 and a third-rounder in 2021. The trade benefitted both parties as it gave a rebuilding Lions team plenty of draft capital and it gave Stafford the chance to advance to the postseason. The Rams, who have adopted a “Super Bowl or bust” mentality, do not have a first-round pick in the NFL Draft until 2024 because they have traded picks away in order to acquire players who can help the team win now. It’s a risky strategy, but one that has landed the Rams, and Stafford specifically, right where they want to be: competing for a Lombardi Trophy on their home turf at SoFi Stadium.
Matthew Stafford as QB in Los Angeles
In his first season with the Rams, Stafford was one of the top QBs in the league. He finished the regular season with 404 completions in 601 attempts for 4,886 yards, which was good for third overall. His QB rating of 63.8 was fourth in the league overall behind Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady and Justin Herbert. Stafford finished tied for the league lead with 17 interceptions, but he also finished second overall in touchdowns with 41 in the regular season. Stafford’s success has continued into the postseason as he has led the Rams to their second Super Bowl appearance in four years.
Sean McVay and Matthew Stafford
Rams head coach Sean McVay has also played a major role in the team’s success. He was hired to coach the Rams in 2017 when he was 30 years old and Stafford joined the Rams at age 33. Now McVay (36) is just three years older than his signal-caller. With his appearance in Super Bowl LIII when the Rams fell to the New England Patriots, McVay became the youngest head coach in Super Bowl history. While last year’s Super Bowl featured the oldest coaching matchup in the game’s history with Bruce Arians facing Andy Reid (both of whom were 68 years old at the time), this year’s Super Bowl will feature the youngest coaching matchup in history as Bengals head coach Zac Taylor is just 38 years old.
McVay is turning heads in the NFL due to his youth in the coaching ranks. Meanwhile, Stafford is in the back-half of his career. Together though, McVay and Stafford have the chance to do something neither has done before: win a Lombardi Trophy.
How can I watch and live stream Super Bowl 2022?
- When: Sunday, February 13, 2022
- Where: SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles, California
- TV Channel: NBC
- Live stream: Peacock, NBC Sports app, NBCSports.com
- Follow along with ProFootballTalk and NBC Sports for NFL news, updates, scores, injuries and more
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