Stafford threw his lone touchdown of the Detroit Lions’ 34-16 win Sunday over the Jaguars midway through the third quarter, on his third straight pass attempt from goal-to-go at the 1.
“It was entirely too hard to score down there on a couple of those,” Stafford said. “It was a tough series to get it in there, but it was nice to score.”
Leading 17-6 early in the second half, Stafford threw a 48-yard bomb to Kenny Golladay that gave the Lions first-and-goal from the 6.
He threw Golladay’s way again on the next play, but Golladay was tackled inside the 1-yard line. Rather than hand the ball to goal-line back Adrian Peterson or rookie D’Andre Swift, who had a career game, offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell called passes on the next three plays.
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Jaguars linebacker Kamalei Correa broke up Stafford’s first pass to T.J. Hockenson, and fullback Jason Cabinda deflected Stafford’s second pass, also intended for Hockenson, thinking it was for him.
On fourth-and-goal, the Lions eschewed a field goal and called a rub route on the goal line, which Stafford completed to Hockenson in the end zone.
Stafford joked this week that he wanted to throw a touchdown against the Jaguars — the only opponent he had not thrown a TD pass against in his first 11 seasons — in order to “have that on the tombstone one day.”
Asked if the Lions were intentionally trying to get him a touchdown pass Sunday, as it appeared, Stafford said he did not think that was the case.
“Surely wasn’t talked about,” he said. “I think more than anything we ran it in earlier. We thought the play action would be there. I think that was more the thought process than anything.”
Had Stafford not thrown a touchdown pass Sunday, he would have had to wait until at least 2024 to try again. The Lions and Jaguars play every four years in the NFL’s current scheduling formula.
Hot to trot
Right tackle Tyrell Crosby and right guard Halapoulivaati Vaitai left Sunday’s game in the first half with dehydration.
Both players were given IVs in the locker room, but neither returned, leaving the Lions to finish the game with Matt Nelson at right tackle and Oday Aboushi at right guard.
Aboushi even played some right tackle snaps when the Lions used Nelson on the left side in their six-lineman package.
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“I don’t know if I’ve been in a game where we’ve played all eight offensive linemen, so that was a little bit unique,” Lions coach Matt Patricia said. “But I thought that was great of those guys just being prepared. So, great lesson for us. I think our guys do a phenomenal job of this every single week of just being ready to go. You never know when your number’s going to be called and when it gets called, you’ve got to go out there and perform really well, which I thought they did.”
The Lions ran for a season-high 180 yards on 39 carries and did not allow a sack Sunday despite the changing personnel on their line.
Joe Dahl, at left guard, and Aboushi, at right guard, played the Lions’ third offensive series in what Patricia indicated was a planned rotation. Vaitai returned at right tackle for the Lions’ fourth offensive series, but was replaced after a few plays by Nelson.
“It was definitely a little more humid than we were probably used to,” defensive end Trey Flowers said. “That’s kind of what you expect coming into Florida, but hopefully we can get back hydrated and (be) better.”
Patricia said Crosby and Vaitai were not the only Lions who needed IVs Sunday, though he did not specify what other players took fluids.
Game-time temperature was 78 degrees, with 78% humidity.
“Pretty humid down here, pretty hot,” Patricia said. “We might have had more than just two have to go in and get IVs and stuff like that. Just sometimes that happens. We got to do a better job of being ready to go with that stuff. Certainly, coming down to Florida in October, it’s still warm. But again, just proud of everybody stepping up and being ready to go when they had to.”
Contact Dave Birkett at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.
This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Detroit Lions QB Matthew Stafford finally get first TD pass vs. Jaguars