In sports, everybody is a winner—some people just win better than others. Like Matthew Stafford, who won the weekend by suddenly turning into Bobby Layne, minus the crippling hangovers.
It was famously said of Layne that "he never lost a game, he just ran out of time." Well, Matthew Stafford did run out of time yesterday and still managed to pull off a legendary come-from behind victory on the last play against the Browns. With only one arm. Urban legend has it that Layne once got in a car accident while driving drunk on a Saturday night, then showed up on Sunday morning and led the Lions to a win. Stafford—who attended the same high school as Layne, don'tcha know—picked himself up off the sideline with a busted shoulder to throw a game-winning touchdown. (He sort of had no choice. Daunte Culpepper sure didn't want to do it and putting on a helmet would have ruined the whole LPGA golfer look that Drew Stanton had going on.)
Urban legend also has it that Layne cursed his former franchise to 50 years of losing after they traded him away in 1958. Well, we're at 51 and counting, but perhaps the statute of limitations has finally been lifted. The team is still a long way from being good, but could they finally havefound the leader with that mythical toughness that inspires nations and make women weep? No one knows what "it" is, but he's got it! If you're going to build yourself a legend, Sunday's "gritty" 5-TD performance would be a good way to start.
Years from now, every Lions fan will talk about how they saw this man in this game and knew that things had finally turned around for this hapless franchise ... and you will know that they are lying because the stadium was half-full and the game was blacked out. (More on that later.) Stafford probably won't play during their nationally televised Thanksgiving game in four days when his team will undoubtedly be spanked, so the legend is going to need a little more time to simmer. But what a glorious four days they will be for Lions fans. Naturally, the greatest post-game glow of good feelings that they've seen in years had to come during the short week.
[Photo: Julian H. Gonzalez/Detroit Free Press]
Matthew Stafford, Matt Cassel lead way in NFL Week 11 [Peter King]
Stafford winning teammates over [The Morning Sun]
There's no doubt now: Stafford is strong enough to lead [Detroit Free Press]
In battle of the bottom, Lions and Browns play a thriller [MJD]
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Here are some other big winners, who did not win quite as big:
Brady Quinn: Looks like someone else benefited from facing a porous secondary and a non-existent pass rush. When you can double your career touchdown total in one quarter, you know the only way to go is up. [Tribune Chronicle - Warren, OH]
San Diego Chargers: Remember when some idiot wrote that Denver had pretty much sewn up the AFC West and Josh McDaniels was the new George Halas? The term you're looking for is "short-sighted." [BroncoTalk]
Real Salt Lake: Why does a team from Utah have a Spanish name? And how does a team with a losing regular-season record win your league championship? (Oh, right. Penalty kicks.) [Salt Lake Tribune]
And who is the Weekend Loser? Anyone who enjoys picking on Charlie Weis. Remember ... if he gets fired, then you can't make fun of Charlie Weis anymore. (And Notre Dame might actually get better.) It's quite a catch, that Catch-22. [Sporting News]