| Detroit Free Press
Assessing Detroit Lions’ coach, GM searches as regular season ends
Free Press sports writers Dave Birkett and Carlos Monarrez debate Jan. 4, 2021, who the Detroit Lions should hire as general manager and head coach.
Carlos Monarrez and Dave Birkett, Detroit Free Press
Add Matthew Stafford to the list of people who weren’t happy with the questionable roughing-the-passer penalty called against Tracy Walker in Sunday’s 37-35 loss to the Minnesota Vikings.
The Detroit Lions quarterback was mic’d for the game and his displeasure with referee Adrian Hill’s pivotal call in the fourth quarter was clear.
“What?” Stafford shouted incredulously as he put on his helmet and prepared to take the field. “What?”
After a brief pause, Stafford shouted another, “What?”
After the penalty is announced, he walked forward and punches the air as he yelled, “No!”
Walker’s sack of Kirk Cousins on fourth down would have given Stafford and the Lions’ offense the ball at their 14-yard line. Instead, the Vikings scored two plays later and took a 37-29 lead with 10:32 left.
“Are you kidding me?” Stafford asked a coach as he walked back to the bench. “He just talked him? Unbelievable?”
Stafford lamented the magnitude of the call and credited Walker for making the play while he spoke with backup Chase Daniel near the water cooler: “That was such a huge field-position play. We were going to be on the 1. Now we’ve got the ball on the (14). Like that’s a huge play by Tracy.”
When the defense returned to the sideline, Stafford encouraged his teammates, saying, “(Expletive) that, that’s good playing. That’s good playing, man, y’all got off the field.”
There was one more tough call that went against the Lions that Stafford was happy with. His deep touchdown pass to Marvin Jones – Jones’ third of the game – was reversed and ruled incomplete when it appeared the ball touched the ground.
As the Lions lined up for a 2-point conversion, the announcement came that the touchdown was under review.
“Marv, did you catch it?” Stafford asked Jones, who appeared to answer in the affirmative. “All right.”
After the announcement that the play was rule an incompletion, Jones told Stafford, “It never touched the ground, bro.”
“Unbelievable,” Stafford said as he shook his head.
“Ain’t that crazy?” Jones said.
The Lions ended up scoring on the drive, but they couldn’t tie the score with on a 2-point conversion attempt when Stafford threw incomplete to receiver Quintez Cephus. He apologized to Cephus as they walked to the sideline.
“My bad,” Stafford told Cephus. “Hey, that’s my fault. Hey, that’s my fault. I thought you saw me.”
As the Lions walked off, defensive end Everson Griffen hugged Stafford and said, “Hey, you played with a (inaudible) rib, thumb, everything. That’s the (inaudible) heart of a warrior.”