Matthew Stafford is one of the NFL’s best at making big-time throws

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Cameron DaSilva
·3 min read
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Matthew Stafford is a gunslinger at the quarterback position and has been for his entire career. He’s a player who isn’t afraid to take chances down the field or by throwing into tight windows with defenders draped over his target.

Part of that has to do with the fact that he’s had some elite contested-catch receivers such as Calvin Johnson, Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones Jr., but he also has the arm talent to make those throws with a good rate of success.

The Rams will get a taste of that next season with Stafford as their quarterback after agreeing to trade Jared Goff and three draft picks to the Lions for Stafford. What separates him from Goff is not only arm strength and accuracy, but also the willingness to take chances.

Pro Football Focus has a metric called “big-time throws,” which the site says is best described as “a pass with excellent ball location and timing, generally thrown further down the field and/or into a tighter window.”

Essentially, it’s a really tough throw to make.

Stafford is one of the best quarterbacks at completing big-time throws, and has been for years. According to PFF, Stafford completed 32 big-time throws last season, which was eighth-most in the NFL.

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Since 2006, Stafford is tied with Tom Brady for the most big-time throws made in a single game, going all the way back to 2012 when he made nine such throws. In that game, Stafford completed 31 of 61 passes for 441 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions.

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But wait, there’s more!

Since 2019, Stafford has been clutch on third-and-long. He’s made 15 big-time throws on third-and-7 or more, which is tied with Matt Ryan for the third-most in football. Patrick Mahomes, unsurprisingly, is No. 1 with 26 big-time throws in those situations, nine more than any other player.

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When the game is on the line in the fourth quarter or overtime, Stafford knows how to come through in the clutch. Last season, he made 13 big-time throws in the fourth quarter and overtime, once again tied for third-most in the NFL.

What’s incredible is the fact that the Lions only won five games last season, and four of them came on the back of a game-winning drive led by Stafford.

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One of those game-winning drives came against the Falcons, with Detroit marching 75 yards in 1:04 despite having no timeouts.

As you can see in the video below, Stafford was sharp on the drive, completing every pass he threw (except for a spike). His most impressive throw was a deep shot into tight coverage over the leaping linebacker and into the waiting arms of Kenny Golladay for a huge gain.

The Rams should be much better in late-game situations with Stafford under center, which isn’t a knock on Jared Goff. But Stafford simply knows how to get it done with big throws in clutch moments; he’s led the NFL in game-winning drives three times in his career.

It’s easy to see why Sean McVay and the Rams are so excited to have Stafford in L.A.