- Michael Rothstein, ESPN Staff Writer
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Over the next two weeks, we will look at ten critical plays that shaped the Detroit Lions' season in one way or another.
Not all of them will be bad and certainly, with the way the Lions cratered to a 7-9 finish, will not all be good. And some might be have just been fantastic plays.
And as always when it comes to these sorts of lists, this is subjective and are plays, for good or bad, that stuck out to me when I made this list. Agree or disagree vehemently, let’s chat about it. Oh, and we’ll be going in reverse order from 10 to 1.
Past plays: No. 10 -- PI in Arizona; No. 9 -- Reggie Bush’s screen vs. Minnesota; No. 8 -- Calvin Johnson gets the drops; No. 7 -- Jeremy Ross’ snow-covered return; No. 6 -- Matthew Stafford’s pick-six; No. 5 -- Mike Nugent’s game-winning field goal; No. 4 -- The kneel to end regulation in Giants-Lions
Today, we present Play No. 3
When: Oct. 27, 2013
Where: Ford Field, where the Lions beat the Dallas Cowboys, 31-30, to finish out the first half of the season.
What happened: The Lions got the ball back with 1:02 left in the game, trailing 30-24. Matthew Stafford then put together a six-play drive, culminating in his best play of the season, a fake spike turned dive into the end zone over his offensive linemen for a touchdown with 12 seconds left. It was a play Stafford called on his own and had it failed, the Lions would have had trouble running another play. No one other than Stafford knew he was running that play.
What they said about it: Stafford: “Sometimes you get a feel and you just go with it. If we don’t get in there, we probably lose the game.
Wide receiver Kris Durham: “I was lined up on the ball. I’m expecting him to spike it and I’m looking down the line and I can see that he got over. I was telling everybody, ‘He got over.’ I probably had a better view than the ref.”
Right guard Larry Warford: “The only thing I saw was him running the other way,” Warford said. “I was like ‘Why haven’t the whistles blown?’ And I saw him running to my left and I was like, ‘What the hell is he doing over there? Like 'How could he mess up spiking the ball?’ Lo and behold.”
How the Lions’ season was impacted: It ended up being the high point and the highlight of the Lions' season and, likely, Stafford’s season. He showed in one drive all the potential he had, both as a late-game leader, as an emerging quarterback and as someone who could lead a franchise for years to come. Unfortunately for the Lions, it was only a glimpse and not a threshold Stafford had crossed. That drive -- and that game -- had given the Lions a 5-3 record in the first half of the season and looked like it could propel the team into the playoffs. Of course, everyone knows what happened in the second half of the season, when Stafford turned into a quarterback that looked more like a rookie than a veteran and the Lions went from a playoff team to one that hired a new coach this week. But for one Sunday, everything looked like the Lions would finally shed all of those old labels.
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