“I told you so! I told you so! I told you so!”
That was Dan Orlovsky’s emphatic message Monday morning, as he stood inches away from television cameras on ESPN’s “Get Up” show.
The former Detroit Lions backup quarterback to Matthew Stafford said Sunday night he would be “unbearable” the following day, after watching the Los Angeles Rams escape the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on a last-second field thanks to a pinpoint deep ball from Stafford to a wide open Cooper Kupp.
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“This is the all-time ‘I told you so’ moment. This is a career-defining and legacy changing throw from Matthew Stafford. All you writers in Detroit that for years told me, ‘your guy’s not good enough,’ you were wrong! And all the fans in Detroit — and I know I love a lot of you guys — that told me ‘Matthew Stafford stunk,’ you were wrong! And all those people who send me stuff on the internet, memes saying, ‘all your guy does is pad stats,’ you were wrong.
“For years, I have told, and a small group of people have told everybody, ‘Matthew Stafford is a great player.’ And you say (mimicking baby voice), ‘well he doesn’t win games.’ He played in Detroit. ‘He’s never been to the playoffs and won a game.’ He played in Detroit. This was the moment that Matthew Stafford had to prove everybody wrong. … There is not a human being that plays in the NFL, that when the game is on the line, and it is nut-cutting time in the fourth quarter, that I want the ball more than Matthew Stafford.”
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After inexplicably blowing a 27-3 second-half lead to Tom Brady and the Bucs, the Rams got the ball back with 42 seconds left.
Stafford found Kupp, the NFL’s leading receiver, on a sideline pass for 19 yards to get the ball to the Rams’ 44, then with former Lions teammate Ndamukong Suh bearing down on him, lofted a pass down the middle to Kupp for 44 yards to the Bucs’ 13 yard-line.
The Rams hustled down the field to the line of scrimmage, and Stafford spiked the ball with six seconds remaining, setting up Matt Gay’s 30-yard winning field goal, sending the No. 3 seed Rams to the NFC championship game at home, where they’ll face division rival and No. 6 seed San Francisco 49ers next Sunday (6:30 p.m., Fox).
If the Rams were to win that game, they’d play in their home stadium, SoFi Stadium, for Super Bowl 56.
Stafford finished 28-for-38 for 366 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions, helping the Rams (14-5) overcome four lost fumbles in Tampa, including one early in the fourth quarter when Stafford wasn’t ready for the snap and it sailed away.
Stafford, who turns 34 in February, was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2009 NFL draft by the Lions. In 12 seasons, he helped the team reach three postseasons, but lost in the wild-card round each time.
The Lions were 74-90-1 in Stafford’s 165 starts. He was known for orchestrating many fourth-quarter comebacks, but no matter how many different teammates and coaches surrounded him, the team was unable to win the biggest games. The Lions have one playoff win since 1957, and now own the NFL’s longest playoff win drought at 30 years.
He asked to be traded last January and the Lions dealt him to a place he wanted, where he could team up with Rams head coach and offensive wunderkind Sean McVay.
The Lions acquired a third-round pick in 2021 and future first-rounders in 2022 and 2023.
Stafford won his first playoff game last Monday in a 34-11 beatdown of Arizona.
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After his performance on “Get Up,” Orlovsky, a fifth-round pick by the Lions in 2005, joined ESPN’s popular “First Take” and continued to ride for Stafford.
Known by some for running out of the back of the end zone for a safety during the Lions’ 0-16 season in 2008, Orlovsky made 12 starts in 26 appearances in the NFL across four teams, and retired in 2017. He quickly built a following at ESPN due to his articulate analysis and bold opinions on quarterbacks.
Orlovsky does color commentary during the college football season for ESPN, and is a mainstay across the network’s morning and afternoon shows, including “NFL Live.”
[ 0-16 ‘poster boy’: How Dan Orlovsky used infamous safety as a lesson ]
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