The Detroit Lions have rallied around D’Andre Swift all week after he dropped the winning pass in the final seconds of Sunday’s gut-wrenching 27-23 loss to the Chicago Bears.
But the rookie running back got the biggest vote of confidence yet Wednesday, when quarterback Matthew Stafford said he wouldn’t hesitate to throw the same pass in the same situation if it comes up again.
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“No, not at all,” Stafford said in a conference call with reporters. “I’m throwing it to him a hundred times out of a hundred. Trust that kid. He’ll make a play.”
Immediately after the game, coach Matt Patricia walked off the field with Swift and assured him the loss wasn’t all on his shoulders.
“I put my arm around him as soon as we got to the tunnel, walked up the tunnel with him and told him, you know, he’s a great player,” Patricia said Sunday. “The game is not on him. It’s on me, it’s on the entire bad execution and bad plays that we had toward the end of the game and the bad coaching. We all had opportunities to do a better job and we know that we’ve got to do that going forward.
“But he’s a great young player, he’s going to be a good player for a long time, he’s going to make a lot of plays and we’ll just push forward.”
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Running back Adrian Peterson also assured Swift — who ran for a touchdown and led Lions running backs in playing time Sunday — that the team was behind him and that he should learn from his mistake and move forward.
“It’s a long season and at the end of the day, do not let this bother you,” Peterson said Sunday. “Do not let this linger. Focus on the next game, which is Green Bay. And focus on hey, if you’re in that position again, what you going to do to capitalize? That’s all that matters.”
But it has been Stafford who has been steadfastly in Swift’s corner since the Lions drafted him in the second round out of Georgia, their shared alma mater. Stafford invited Swift to private workouts in the spring and even welcomed him into his home.
“Met his wife, met his kids,” Swift said last month. “So he’s just been welcoming me into his family, his life, so I appreciate him for that and our relationship’s been getting better, been growing every day.”
In August, Stafford said on NFL Network’s “Good Morning Football” he appreciated Swift’s work ethic and dogged determination to improve.
“I’m excited about him,” Stafford said. “He’s a guy that just wants to come in here and work and get better. He’s a sponge right now, just trying to learn everything that he can. Obviously, when you hand him the football, you can see the talent, it’s there. You put him out wide and let him run some routes, the talent, it’s there.”
Contact Carlos Monarrez at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @cmonarrez.